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Fish Breakdown: Omegas and Mercury


Fish is a great source for lean protein. Fish is part of a healthy eating plan. Fish provides much lacking omega-3 fatty acids to our diets. OK, I get it. Message received. Eat fish.

The American Heart Association recommends eating fish at least twice weekly to help reach the recommendation of consuming 1.1 grams of omega-3 fats a day. Although fish is a great source of these healthy fats, you have to be careful about ingesting too much mercury, especially if you're pregnant. Expecting moms should stick to types of fish that have mercury levels of 1 part per million (ppm) or lower. The rest of us can safely consume fish with mercury levels that average 5.5 ppm. So take a look at the chart below to see where the fish you eat falls on the spectrum.

Mercury in parts per million (ppm) Omega-3s in grams per 3 oz. serving
Canned Tuna .12 .17 - .24
Shrimp below the level of detection .29
Polluck .06 .45
Salmon .01 1.1 - 1.9
Cod .11 .15 - .24
Catfish .05 .22 - .3
Clams below the level of detection .25
Flounder or Sole .05 .48
Crabs .06 .27 - .4
Scallops .05 .18 - .34

If you don't see your favorite seafood on the list then read more.

Mercury in parts per million (ppm) Omega-3s in grams per 3 oz. serving
Lobster .31 .07 - .46
Grouper .55 .23
Halibut .26 .6 - 1.12
Oysters below the level of detection .37 - 1.14
Mahi mahi .19 .13
Herring .04 1.9 - 2
Shark .99 .83
Swordfish .97 .97
Golden bass or golden snapper 1.45 .9
King mackerel .73 .36
Fresh or frozen tuna .38 .21 - 1.1
Red snapper .6 .29
Orange roughy .54 .03

Fit's Tip: Since it may be tough to consume 1.1 grams of omega-3 fatty acids a day solely from fish, remember that flaxseeds, flaxseed oil, omega-3 enriched foods, and fish oil supplements are also great sources for this healthy fat.

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