What with all the tales of mercury poisoning, it's enough to turn a pescatarian off of fish altogether. In addition to bacterial and parasitic contamination, chemical contamination is a vital worry among seafood eaters. Certain fish are even more likely to contain concentrated amounts of toxins that wend their way into rivers, lakes, and seas, because they contain more fat (fat stores the toxins), are older fish, or simply swim around in more toxic waters. Mercury is a huge problem in large predator fish (shark and swordfish) as well as tuna, all of which absorb mercury from their prey. Mercury in the human body can in turn lead to developmental problems among fetuses and children, as well as neurological impairments. Women of childbearing age are recommended to consume shark, swordfish, and fresh tuna steaks no more than once a month, while everyone else should limit fish intake to about seven ounces per week. Here are some more tips from the FDA on fish intake:
1) Eat fish from a variety of different places.
2) If you fish for sport, avoid eating fish that you catch if you fish regularly in the same area.
3) Check with your Department of Public Health before eating fish from nearby waters.
4) Eat farm-raised fish more often than freshwater fish; they're less likely to have been exposed to toxic chemicals.
5) Eat smaller and younger fish, which have had less time to store toxins in their bodies.
6) Lean ocean fish like cod and flounder are less likely to have stored toxins, while freshwater fish are more likely to have.