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Good Question: What Kind Of Fish (And How Much Of It) Should We Eat?

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(credit: CBS) Heather Brown
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A new report out says pregnant women should avoid all canned tuna. Consumer Reports said on Thursday it’s concerned about the mercury levels in some kinds of tuna.

This comes on the heels of the FDA’s new guideline that suggest pregnant women should eat between 8 and 12 ounces of fish a week.

So, what kind of fish — and how much of it — should we eat?

“In Minnesota, the main contaminant is mercury,” said Patricia McCann, a research scientist with the Minnesota Department of Health. There are also some PCBs from fish in Lake Superior and the main river systems.

The Department of Health offers fish consumption guidelines for men and non-pregnant women. Walleyes, northern pike, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, channel catfish, flathead catfish, white sucker, drum, burbot, sauger, carp, lake trout, white bass, rock bass, white fish and other species should be eaten once a week.

Sunfish, crappie, yellow perch and bullheads are unrestricted. Shark, swordfish, tile fish and king mackerel should be limited to once a month.

“Fish get mercury from their diet, so the higher up the food chain, the higher amounts of mercury that can build up,” McCann said.

The longer a fish lives and the bigger it gets is also a factor because fish don’t excrete mercury as well as humans.
For pregnant women, the Department of Health’s list is more restrictive.

Catfish (farm-raised), cod, crab, flatfish, herring, oysters, pollock, salmon, sardines, scallops, shrimp and tilapia can be eaten twice a week. Canned “light” tuna, sunfish, crappie, yellow perch and bullheads should be limited to once a week. Canned white tuna, Chilean seabass, grouper, halibut, marlin, orange roughy, tuna steak, bass, catfish, walleye shorter than 20 inches and northern pike shorter than 30 inches should be eaten only once a month.

“The biggest thing to remember is eating you fish in general, if it’s low in contaminants, it’s good for your health,” McCann said.

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