Although a lot of expecting women already avoid eating certain types of fish during their pregnancies, the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency has now released new guidelines to help moms know exactly what's safe for them and their children to consume.
The new guidelines organized 62 types of fish and shellfish into three categories of safety for pregnant women, breastfeeding moms, and young kids. For the best choices, they recommend two to three servings a week; for good choices, they suggest one serving a week; and for fish to avoid, they outline the types that should not be consumed at all.
According to the FDA and the EPA, nearly 90 percent of all fish eaten in the United States falls within the best choices category, and these agencies now recommend two to three servings of lower-mercury fish per week with a maximum consumption of 12 ounces. However, they note that 50 percent of pregnant women eat less than two ounces of fish per week despite the nutritional benefits during pregnancy and early childhood.
"Fish are an important source of protein and other nutrients for young children and women who are or may become pregnant or are breastfeeding. This advice clearly shows the great diversity of fish in the U.S. market that they can consume safely," Dr. Stephen Ostroff, FDA Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine, said in a news release. "This new, clear, and concrete advice is an excellent tool for making safe and healthy choices when buying fish."
According the FDA's helpful chart, here's a breakdown of the three categories of fish and the popular types of fish that fall under each (to see the complete list of fish in each category, visit the FDA's website):
Best Choices (two to three servings a week)
Anchovy, Atlantic mackerel, Black sea bass, Butterfish, Catfish, Clam, Cod, Crab, Crawfish, Flounder, Haddock, Hake, Herring, Lobster, Oyster, Salmon, Sardine, Scallop, Shrimp, Sole, Squid, Tilapia, Trout (freshwater), Tuna (canned light), Whitefish, Whiting
Good Choices (one serving per week)
Bluefish, Buffalofish, Carp, Chilean sea bass, Grouper, Halibut, Mahi mahi, Monkfish, Rockfish, Snapper, Spanish mackerel, Striped bass (ocean), Tilefish (Atlantic Ocean), Tuna (albacore/white tuna, canned and fresh/frozen), Tuna (yellowfin)
Fish to Avoid (highest mercury levels)
King mackerel, Marlin, Orange roughy, Shark, Swordfish, Tilefish (Gulf of Mexico), Tuna (bigeye)