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Facts on Fish

Benefits of Eating Fish

Fish is a good source of high-quality protein and one of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids and other essential nutrients like vitamin D. Eating fish and shellfish is important for heart health, for growth and development of children and for a healthy pregnancy. It is recommended that everyone over the age of two (including pregnant women) consume at least 150 grams (5 ounces) of fish and shellfish low in mercury each week.

Low Mercury Fish to Eat Weekly

  • “Light” canned Tuna (specifically labelled as ‘skipjack’, ‘yellowfin’ and ‘tongol’), Salmon, Cod, Haddock, Halibut, Sole and Tilapia, Rainbow Trout, Char, Herring, Atlantic mackerel, Pollock (Boston bluefish), Blue crab, Scallop, Shrimp, Clam, Mussel, Oyster, Lake whitefish,  Anchovy, Sardines, Perch, Bass

Which Fish should be Eaten Less Often?

Mercury can build up in certain fish. Eating these types of fish in large amounts or too often can lead to health risks, especially in women who are pregnant or may become pregnant and in young children. It is the big predatory fish that usually contain the most mercury. These are shark, swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish, marlin, orange roughy, escolar, and fresh or frozen tuna steaks.

How Often can I Eat these Higher Mercury Fish?

  • General population – no more than 150 grams (5 ounces) per week.
  • Women who are or may become pregnant or are breastfeeding – no more than 150 grams (5 ounces) per month.
  • Children 1-4 years old – no more than 75 grams (2 ½ ounces) per month.
  • Children 5 -11 years old – no more than 125 grams (about 4 ounces) per month.

What about Canned Tuna?

As long as you eat the canned light tuna variety, which is safe and low in mercury (skipjack, yellowfin, and tongol) you don’t need to be concerned. Canned albacore (white) tuna however, can be higher in mercury so children 1 to 11 years old and women who are or may become pregnant or are breastfeeding need to limit how much they eat of just this type of tuna. Here are the recommendations:

  • Women who are or may become pregnant or are breastfeeding – no more than 300 grams (10 ounces) per week.
  • Children 1 – 4 years old – no more than 75 grams (2 ½ ounces) per week.
  • Children 5 – 11 years old – no more than 150 grams (5 ounces) per week.

What about Sport Fish?

Sport fish are caught in local lakes and rivers. Some of these fish may not be safe to eat. If you eat sport fish, check the Guide to Eating Ontario Sport Fish at www.ene.gov.on.ca/envision/guide/index.htm or phone 1-800-820-2716 to get a free copy.

Tips for Eating Fish

  • Use lower fat cooking methods like grilling, poaching, broiling or baking fish. Avoid eating deep fried or battered fish often.
  • Flavour fish using lemon, herbs like dill or spices such as curry.
  • Eat canned fish cold on salad or as a sandwich filling if you prefer a milder fish taste.

Special Considerations for Pregnant Women and Young Children

  • Make sure fish and seafood is well cooked. Raw fish should be avoided due to increased risk of bacterial contamination.
  • Avoid taking cod liver oil supplements.They may contain too much vitamin A.
  • Make sure all bones are removed from fish when serving to babies and young children.