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Cautionary Tale: Eat Seafood Safely

By Sara Butler

Fish has some serious health street cred. After all, fish and other seafood are often high in vitamins and minerals you need for good health, plus they’re low in calories and saturated fat. The only problem with fish is that some of it may not be safe to eat due to environmental pollutants that can put your health at risk. There are some types of fish contaminated with industrial chemicals, metals, and even parasites that you need to avoid. Here’s your guide to fish that are best kept off your plate.

Wild Chilean Sea Bass

One of the rules of thumb when choosing a fish to eat is to be picky about where it comes from. Chilean sea bass is high in mercury. That means it’s only recommended to be eaten by healthy adults twice a month – assuming no other contaminated fish are eaten in that time frame. Ecologically, Chilean sea bass is also threatened by overfishing. If you’re looking for sea bass that is safe to eat, get fish from the South Pacific, Argentina, or the Falkland Islands.


This fish isn’t recommended for anyone. Tilefish just so happens to have some of the highest mercury levels of any fish, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Plus, these fish are overfished, so if you want to safely consume the one serving of tilefish you can have each month, then look for fish from the mid-Atlantic region.


Contaminants tend to go up the food chain and since the shark is at the top of the ocean food chain, you can probably guess that it has high levels of mercury, too. Shark is very high in mercury, but they should also be avoided because many species are endangered due to overfishing.

King Mackerel

King mackerel is so contaminated with mercury that the EPA recommends it never be consumed by women or children. Men should have it less than once a month – so it’s best to leave it off your plate altogether. If you’re looking for mackerel, try Atlantic mackerel instead. It is low in mercury and is recommended by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch.

Mahi Mahi

Mahi mahi is not recommended because it can cause scombroid poisoning – also called histamine poisoning. When not properly refrigerated, the bacteria in this fish breaks down an amino acid called histidine, forming histamine and resulting in a reaction in the eater that resembles an allergic reaction. So beware!

Enjoy fish, but make sure you eat the right kind!

To learn more about your health and wellness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Hoboken, N.J. 


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