Eating Fish Is More Complicated Than You Think!


Fish is not a health food, according to Dr. Furhman, a board-certified family physician, NY Times best-selling author, nutritional researcher, and an internationally recognized expert on nutrition and natural healing.  He maintains, “If you eat fish regularly, your body is undoubtedly high in mercury, which can damage the heart and brain. Pregnant women may compromise their babies’ brain development by mercury exposure associated with eating fish, and eating more fish is also associated with increased breast cancer risk.”  He recommends to either avoid fish or eat it no more than once a week and choose those lowest in mercury such as flounder, scallops, trout, sole, squid, wild salmon or sardines.

Fish is a healthy and delicious alternative to meat and obviously some choices are safer than others.  Still, reading Dr. Furhman’s report is jarring.  I went to the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch website, which helps consumers and businesses make choices for healthy oceans and for consuming safe fish, to read their recommendations.

The Seafood Watch program categorizes fish into “Best Choices”, “Good Alternatives”, and which ones to “Avoid”.

Their Super Green or “Best Choices” lists seafood that meets the following three criteria:

  • Has low levels of mercury
  • Provides at least 250 milligrams per day (mg/d) of omega-3s
  • Is classified as a Seafood Watch “Best Choice” (green)

Best Choice List includes:

  • Atlantic Mackerel (purse seine from Canada and the U.S.)
  • Freshwater Coho Salmon (farmed in tank systems, from the U.S.)
  • Pacific Sardines (wild-caught)
  • Salmon (wild-caught, from Alaska)
  • Salmon, Canned (wild-caught, from Alaska)

Next Best choices:

  • Albacore Tuna (troll- or pole-caught, from the U.S. or British Columbia)
  • Sablefish/Black Cod (from Alaska and Canadian Pacific)

Click here for the “Good Alternatives” and “Avoid” list, as well as a seafood search for detailed information regarding specific fish.  You can actually download seafood watch lists for your  region of the country.  

The “Best Choices” list isn’t very long.  Sadly, eating safe, nutritious food is getting harder.  Staying informed by reading information from trusted sources is one solution, eating local, organically grown whole food is another.


For more green living tips, visit

Information compiled from: and


8 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by amy nachman on May 29, 2014 at 4:08 pm

    great column, Betsy, though alarming, at best. My Mother was a docent at the Monterey Bay Aquarium – thanks for the memories ( and great tips!)


  2. Posted by Carol Moriarty on May 29, 2014 at 5:08 pm

    Bummer! Carol

    Sent from my iPad


  3. Posted by Tudy on May 29, 2014 at 6:39 pm

    This information is a huge drag; I assume you have a pocket guide. Looking forward to seeing you and Peter tomorrow! Tudy x

    Sent from my iPhone



    • I know. And I hated posting such a negative piece, but it’s such important information.

      We are so excited about you coming! See you tomorrow!


  4. It IS more complicated that you think! I’m grateful for this post, because I’ve tried to find a simple answer to what fish to eat/cook/order in restaurants, etc. and always end up frustrated with little useful knowledge to show for my time. Now I know it’s not just me. I followed your link to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and there’s lots of helpful info (but not simple either). Thank you for that resource, and thanks again for posting that reminder to use caution with eating fish.


    • Thank you for commenting. It’s a sad commentary when an act as necessary as eating gets this complicated! Meat, chicken and produce are too! I’m glad you found my post helpful.



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