I have to admit that this topic makes my head spin. This is such a controversial subject that every individual needs to make his or her own decision. Do the benefits outweigh the risks of eating canned fish? I am just sharing some information with you to consider. When in doubt, you should seek the advice of your physician.
First, I want to address a group of people, who are at a higher risk for health issues associated with mercury. In a brochure published by the U.S.D.A., “What You Need to Know About Mercury in Fish and Shellfish,”* women who are or may become pregnant, nursing mothers and young children should follow these guidelines to avoid their exposure to the harmful effects of mercury:
- Fish to avoid entirely are shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish, because they have high levels of mercury.
- Eat no more than 12 ounces (2 meals) a week of a variety of fish and shellfish. Fish that are low in mercury are shrimp, canned light tuna, wild Alaskan salmon, pollock, and catfish. Albacore tuna should be limited to one 6 ounce serving a week.
- “Check local advisories about the safety of fish caught by family and friends in your local lakes, rivers, and coastal areas.”
When researching canned salmon, the following things were always mentioned:
- Canned salmon is an excellent or good choice.
- It is less expensive than fresh or frozen.
- All canned salmon is wild, but check label for place or origin. Fish from Alaska is recommended.
This is what I found out about canned tuna:
- “Light” tuna (skipjack), which contains lower levels of mercury, is the one that was recommended.
- If you are going to purchase albacore, make sure “it’s caught in the U.S. or British Columbia. This tuna is caught when it’s younger and therefore has less time to build up high levels of mercury, but albacore imported from other countries is caught when it’s older and thus contains more mercury.” This is according to a Rodale internet article, “How to Know Which Tuna is Most Toxic,” by Emily Main.
Other things to consider:
- Whenever possible buy fish in containers that are BPA-free. Fish can be purchased in BPA-free pouches.
- Buy tuna and salmon packed in water instead of oil. You lose some omega-3 fatty acids when you drain the liquid.
- Look for troll caught or pole caught fish. The fishing methods are considered environment friendly.
The benefits of omega-3 fats found in fish according to the Harvard School of Health:
- Protect the heart against the development of erratic and potentially deadly cardiac rhythm disturbances.
- Lower blood pressure and the heart rate.
- Improve blood vessel function.
- Lower triglycerides at higher doses.
After doing this research, I believe there are more positives than negatives to eating canned fish. I will make a conscious effort to eat a variety of fish in small portions twice a week, but you do what is right for you. Hope you find this blog article helpful and good luck with your choices.
For further information, read the following links:
*The brochure, “What You Need to Know About Mercury in Fish and Shellfish” is in the process of being revised by the U.S.D.A. and the link above contains the updated draft.