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Myth: Limit fish and seafood because of the risk of mercury poisoning.

TRUTH:  Though it’s not entirely a myth, the mercury levels in fish are usually not cause for alarm.  Tilefish, swordfish, king mackerel, and shark all contain high levels of mercury and should be a limited part of your meals.  Albacore tuna also contains high amounts, but it’s ok to have 6 oz. or less per week.  Light canned tuna in water is a better choice than tuna steaks or canned albacore if you really love tuna.

Other fishes and seafood contain low levels of mercury.  They could add up but rarely do (unless you’re eating fish in substatial portions daily).  Generally, you can have up to 12 ounces of low mercury fish per week (2-3 meals).  Try seafood like bass, cod, halibut, lobster, shrimp, sole, tilapia or trout.

*Pregnant women should avoid fish with high levels of mercury and should not have raw fish or oysters.

BOTTOM LINE: Fish is a great source of lean protein and is part of a healthy diet.  Don’t avoid fish because you’re concerned about mercury poisoning but pay attention to your portion sizes.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

  1. Environmental Protection Agency (great info on what’s available locally): http://water.epa.gov/scitech/swguidance/fishshellfish/fishadvisories/advisories_index.cfm
  2. FDA: http://www.fda.gov/Food/FoodSafety/Product-SpecificInformation/Seafood/FoodbornePathogensContaminants/Methylmercury/ucm115662.htm

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