Sushi to Avoid:
on the Sushi: What Kinds of Sushi to Avoid
By Dr. Ben
a fan of sushi, it's worth noting that some types of fish tend to
contain more mercury than others; by choosing wisely, you can minimize
your risk of experiencing mercury toxicity.
a relatively unpolluted setting, raw fish is an excellent food choice
for most people - few other foods provide the same abundance of
healthy protein, healthy fatty acids, and micronutrients.
many decades of global industrialization have led to high levels
of environmental pollutants in just about every corner of our world,
including deposits of mercury in fish.
January of 2008, The New York Times published an article that reported
the findings of random tests performed on sushi from several Manhattan
stores and restaurants. Their investigative study found that 25
percent of the sushi tested had dangerously high levels of mercury,
high enough to warrant confiscation by the FDA. Store and restaurant
owners were just as surprised by the results as their patrons.
is it important to avoid mercury toxicity?
is highly toxic to your nervous system. Mercury poisoning may lead
dysfunction in your extremities, most commonly presenting as numbness
of your fingers and toes
toxicity is especially dangerous for pregnant women and young children
because exposure to mercury while in the womb and/or during the
first few years of life may cause:
points worth noting from The New York Times article:
the more expensive the variety of tuna, the higher its potential
mercury content, as premium varieties of tuna tend to come from
larger species that eat a lot of fish and accumulate mercury with
each fish eaten.
tuna tends to have higher levels of mercury than yellowfin or
fish doesn't alter its mercury content.
order to reduce risk of mercury toxicity while consuming fish
for its health-promoting nutrients, it's best to eat smaller fish
that are lower in the food chain.
mentioned above, larger fish act as predators to a larger quantity
and greater variety of smaller fish, so larger fish tend to have
the highest concentrations of mercury in their flesh. Unfortunately,
many of the fish that are selected for sushi and sashimi are the
follows are two lists - compiled by the Natural Resources Defense
Council - that highlight sushi choices that tend to contain high
levels of mercury and those that tend to contain low levels of mercury.
that Tend to be High in Mercury (More than 0.3 parts per million)
Aji (horse mackerel) *
Buri (adult yellowtail) *
Hamachi (young yellowtail) *
Inada (very young yellowtail) *
Katsuo (bonito) *
Maguro (bigeye, bluefin or yellowfin tuna)
Makjiki (blue marlin)
Meji (young bigeye, bluefin or yellowfin tuna)
Sawara (Spanish mackerel)
Seigo (young sea bass)
Shiro (albacore tuna)
Suzuki (sea bass)
Toro (bigeye, bluefin or yellowfin tuna)
that Tend to be Low in Mercury (Less than 0.29 parts per million)
(ark shell) *
Anago (conger eel) *
Aoyagi (round clam)
Awabi (abalone) *
Ayu (sweet fish)
Hamo (pike conger; sea eel) *
Hatahata (sand fish)
Himo (ark shell) *
Hokkigai (surf clam)
Ikura (salmon roe)
Karei (flat fish)
Kohada (gizzard shad)
Masago (smelt egg)
Mirugai (surf clam)
Sayori (halfbeak) *
Shako (mantis shrimp)
Tai (sea bream) *
Tairagai (razor-shell clam) *
Tobikko (flying fish egg)
Unagi (fresh water eel) *
Uni (sea urchin roe)
levels in these fish were not available - their levels were extrapolated
from those of fish with similar feeding patterns.
data for these NRDC lists was compiled from the Food and Drug Administration,
which tests fish for mercury, and the Environmental Protection Agency,
which determines mercury levels that it considers safe for women
of childbearing age.
please note that cooking fish doesn't change its mercury content,
so all of this information is relevant to meals that include cooked
you eat sushi and/or sashimi once in a while, you likely have nothing
to worry about. If you eat sushi, sashimi, or cooked fish on a daily
basis, it's definitely in your best interest to choose fish from
the low mercury list and to be on alert for symptoms of mercury
who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant should take special
care not to eat fish from the high mercury list.
the following fish tend to be low in mercury and safe choices for
adults and kids alike:
Wild pacific salmon
* Arctic char
consider sharing this article with family and friends who regularly
eat seafood. Thank you.
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