Many of us try to eat lots of seafood expressly to be more healthy. The FDA used to recommend that most adults eat at least 8oz per week…implying the more the better. Not any more. Although they still recommend eating 8oz per week for its benefits to heart and brain health, they now recommend limiting intake to no more than 12oz per week.
The reason is depressing, but not surprising: Our oceans and lakes are getting more polluted. We don’t want to overdose on mercury, flame retardants, or the many other pollutants that can be in seafood.
In addition to limiting quantity, we should be choosing fish that are lower in mercury, like wild Alaskan salmon, and avoiding fish at the top of the food chain, like shark, tilefish, king mackerel and swordfish. For women who may become pregnant, the FDA recommends eating only seafood low in mercury.
So what should we eat instead of excess seafood?
For protein sans bioaccumulation of pollutants, nothing beats eating plant proteins: Beans, legumes, nuts, seeds and whole grains.
Another option is to replace excess seafood with animal foods that are believed to be “cleaner”, like organic grass-fed beef or dairy, buffalo or bison, organic cage-free poultry or eggs, wild game, emu, ostrich and such. Conventional chicken is not considered a cleaner protein, according to NutritionFacts.org, because arsenic and flame retardants are among the common pollutants in non-organic chicken.
But since most Americans already overeat protein, many of us could just consume more veggies to replace the lost seafood.
We can also help pollutants leave our bodies by eating cruciferous veggies. Broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale, cabbage and other crucifers are known for helping to rid the body of toxins, in addition to their many other benefits.
I hate to be a pessimist, but if our oceans continue to get warmer and more polluted, we might have to keep cutting back over time. So…savor every bite of that yummy wild Alaska salmon and keep an eye out for future updates to the recommendations for consumption.
- For details, see the EPA/FDA recommendations for adults here: https://www.epa.gov/fish-tech/2017-epa-fda-advice-about-eating-fish-and-shellfish
- And for children under 10 and pregnant or breastfeeding women,: https://www.fda.gov/Food/FoodborneIllnessContaminants/Metals/ucm393070.htm