Guide to Mercury in Fish

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List of Fish Low and High in Mercury

Research over the past few decades has shown that the nutrients and minerals in seafood can make improvements in brain development and reproduction and has highlighted the role for seafood in the functionality of the human body.

But what about mercury?

Some fish contain more mercury than others. The presence of mercury in fish can be a health issue, particularly for women who are or may become pregnant, nursing mothers and young children.

Adult men and women who are not planning to become pregnant, are less at risk from mercury exposure but may wish to refer to the list for low-mercury choices.

Guide to Mercury in Fish

LEAST MERCURY (Safest to Enjoy):

  • Anchovies
  • Butterfish
  • Catfish
  • Clam
  • Crab (Domestic)
  • Crawfish/Crayfish
  • Croaker (Atlantic)
  • Flounder*
  • Haddock (Atlantic)*
  • Hake
  • Herring
  • Mackerel (N. Atlantic, Chub)
  • Mullet
  • Oyster
  • Perch (Ocean)
  • Plaice
  • Pollock
  • Salmon (Canned)**
  • Salmon (Fresh)**
  • Sardine
  • Scallop*
  • Shad (American)
  • Shrimp*
  • Sole (Pacific)
  • Squid (Calamari)
  • Tilapia
  • Trout (Freshwater)
  • Whitefish
  • Whiting

MODERATE MERCURY (Six Servings or Less Per Month):

  • Bass (Striped, Black)
  • Carp
  • Cod (Alaskan)*
  • Croaker (White Pacific)
  • Halibut (Atlantic)*
  • Halibut (Pacific)
  • Jacksmelt (Silverside)
  • Lobster
  • Mahi Mahi
  • Monkfish*
  • Perch (Freshwater)
  • Sablefish
  • Skate*
  • Snapper*
  • Tuna (Canned chunk light)
  • Tuna (Skipjack)*
  • Weakfish (Sea Trout)

HIGH MERCURY (Three Servings or Less Per Month):

  • Bluefish
  • Grouper*
  • Mackerel (Spanish, Gulf)
  • Sea Bass (Chilean)*
  • Tuna (Canned Albacore)
  • Tuna (Yellowfin)*

HIGHEST MERCURY (Avoid Eating):

  • Mackerel (King)
  • Marlin*
  • Orange Roughy*
  • Shark*
  • Swordfish*
  • Tilefish*
  • Tuna (Bigeye, Ahi)*

Mercury Food Chain

* Fish in Trouble: These fish are perilously low in numbers or are caught using environmentally destructive methods.

** Farmed Salmon may contain PCB’s, chemicals with serious long-term health effects.

Sources for the guide: The data for this guide to mercury in fish comes from two federal agencies:

About the mercury-level categories: The categories on the list (least mercury to highest mercury) are determined according to the following mercury levels in the flesh of tested fish.

  • Least mercury: Less than 0.09 parts per million
  • Moderate mercury: From 0.09 to 0.29 parts per million
  • High mercury: From 0.3 to 0.49 parts per million
  • Highest mercury: More than .5 parts per million

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