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How To Enjoy Fresh Fish Without A Hefty Dose Of Mercury

March 9th, 2010

You’d have to be living in a junk food bubble not to have heard health concerns about mercury levels in fish. We all know that (in theory) fresh fish is an excellent way to increase your omega 3 intake, vary your protein sources and basically just round out an already healthy diet. I’ve found that many health conscious women in particular aim to include fish at least 2 or 3 times each week, and it’s also an obvious choice if you feel like you don’t do well on red meat.

But regardless of the freshness of your catch or just how perfectly you’ve grilled it, you have to admit that this whole mercury issue is a bit of a downer. If you have indeed just stuck your head out of that bubble, here’s a quick heads up –

  • Mercury accumulating in your body is a serious health concern recognized by conventional and alternative health practitioners alike
  • It is fast becoming linked to increased cancer risk
  • Clinical evidence indicates that mercury ramps down your thyroid – the gland that governs your metabolism. This can cause unexplained weight gain and the inability to lose body fat regardless of exercise or nutrition. I’ve personally witness this situation in several so-called healthy people whose only failing over the years was to routinely eat a tin of tuna with lunch – a very popular food amongst gym junkies and fitness types!
  • Blood mercury levels are frequently linked with neuro-degeneration, the most common links being to Alzheimer’s and autism (mercury is still used as a preservative in many childhood vaccines, despite the FDA in the US having released ‘safe’ levels well below the amounts used. Problem is it’s too costly and time-consuming to patent new vaccines).
  • Whilst omega 3 supplements are recommended for pretty much everyone seeking weight loss, ideal health and mental acuity, one of the worst things you can do is purchase any old off-the-shelf supplement. Many cheaper fish oils are chock full of mercury, meaning you’re actually doing yourself more harm than good. A quality fish oil should be sourced from Norway or Canada, and should not cause reflux when taken with food. In Australia, Bioceuticals is the only non-practitioner brand I’d recommend, but it is a very weak blend. For this reason I use only Poliquin fish oils, which are of the most superior quality and available in a range of blends (it’s important to rotate your fish oil source). Click here to check out the Poliquin supplement range. Choose supplements on the left and then fish oil.
  • If you go to pubmed.com and type in ‘mercury toxicity humans’ you’ll find 1507 studies just from the past 6 months. 13 of those show a connection with Alzheimer’s.

Still thinking that eating fish a couple times each week is a good idea? Maybe not, huh? In fact, some health experts recommend eating fish no more than once a fortnight, and at a maximum of 150g. Pregnant women and children are advised to half this number. But before you high-tail it to the butcher and throw out all your fresh fish cookbooks, let me offer you a glimmer of hope. You see, not all fish are high in mercury. According to Naturopath Leah Hechtman, “mercury occurs naturally in the environment, can be released into the air through industrial pollution and accumulates in streams and oceans, where it is turned into methylmercury. Fish absorb the methylmercury as they feed in these waters, it accumulates in the fish and then we consume it. (Whilst) nearly all fish and shellfish contain levels of methylmercury, fish that are more likely to have higher levels are the larger, longer-living or predatory species.”

Now I know this might hurt, but the sorry news is that one of the most toxic fish (whose name in French, by the way, actually means ‘bottom feeder of the sea’), is the tuna. Add a tin can lined with estrogen-loading BPA to that dirty fish and you’ve got a recipe for weight gain and health problems. Leah also recommends to limiting or avoiding the following high-mercury offenders:

Billfish, flake, orange roughy, catfish, barramundi (:-(), gemfish, ling, all tuna, halibut, mahi mahi, pike, ray, seabass, tilefish, walleye and white croaker

So, given that fish can be so tasty, and given that it is a great way to increase healthy fats, what should you eat?

Most smaller fish are lower in mercury, and some of your best options include blue mackerel, herring, John dory, ocean trout (yum!), salmon, sardines (try them fresh, grilled in a little coconut oil. Probably one of the cheapest protein sources you’ll find. Add sea salt to taste), silver trevally, silver warehou, anchovy, blue-eyed cod, bream, flathead, garfish, mullet, snapper and whiting.

And finally, if you’re concerned that you may be a walking mercury-mine due to previous fish choices, then check out this great article on detoxing mercury and other metals. Alternatively contact me here to find out how a BioSIgnature assessment can identify these and other systemic problems causing your body to resist weight loss and ideal health.

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11 people have commented
  1. Michael says:

    Very informative Kat cheers,

    Im disappointed about the Flake there is nothing better at the local fish and chip shop!

    Is there still mercury in our vaccines here?! I asked a GP and she said they dont use it anymore. Bloody GP’s!

    • Kat says:

      I wouldn’t be 100% sure on Aus vaccinations but I do know that the swine flu vaccine definitely had it … and I’m pretty sure cervical cancer. Don’t quote me on that. The best resource for vaccination info is http://www.vaccinationinoz.com, they have all the latest research and links and are very helpful.

  2. I think you should also point out that the fish you eat should be wild caught and sustainable. Otherwise the fish isn’t as healthy, particularly salmon which is dyed pink when factory farmed.
    My favorite type of fish are sardines which I eat regularly for a great source of protein and calcium. They are delicious and nobody is more surprised by this than me!

  3. Farouk says:

    oh thanks for the advice Kat, i eat fish a lot and this article was helpful to me

  4. Kat says:

    This is a really good point Kat. I did think about including it but for some reason decided it would be info-overload. You’re right though, farmed fish are definitely not healthy and salmon in particular are not only heavily farmed but known to be genetically modified.
    PS – I LOVE sardines as well – who would’ve thought!

  5. Thank you for the advice! I sometimes forget what fish I should and should not buy and should and should not consume. I need to take a little card with me to the stores and restaurants.

  6. […] What you read might shock you, but I’d say that’s better than staying uninformed and having it potentially kill you. The truth is that we’re all regularly exposed to a veritable feast of toxic chemicals, with some common offenders being household cleaning products, chemicals in skincare and toothpaste, and even that supposedly healthy tin of tuna. […]

  7. Ic Giyim says:

    I really like the colors here on your blog. did you design this yourself or did you outsource it to a professional?

  8. a davis says:

    thanks kat. another informative article. i compared your fish listings to avoid and eat to the sustainable seafood guide and they correlate. (sustainableseafood.org.au)