How Much Fish is Enough Fish?

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By Colleen McTiernan

As you navigate the ever-changing world of nutrition, you may have heard that you should be eating fish three times a week for its many health benefits. But, you may also have heard that you should avoid eating too much fish as it can contain a high mercury content, which we all know is something we want to avoid ingesting. So, which is it?

Fish is a major source of omega-3 fatty acids, selenium, protein and vitamin D. According to an article from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, omega-3 fatty acids improve blood vessel function, lower blood pressure and heart rate, and protect the heart from potentially deadly abnormal heartbeats. This heart-protective and nutritious combination has led to the American Heart Association recommending that you eat a 3.5-ounce serving of fish (particularly fatty fish like salmon, sardines and albacore tuna) at least two times per week.

But what about mercury? It is true that some fish, mostly larger predatory fish, contain high levels of mercury and other environmental contaminants. These include shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish. By avoiding these fish and sticking with a variety of fish known to be low in mercury (shrimp, salmon, pollock, catfish, etc.) you can still reap the benefits of a fish-filled diet without the risk of introducing too much mercury into your body.