FDA Recommendations on Healthy Seafood Selection for Families

Fish, an incredibly nutritious superfood, is essential for families. The FDA Recommendations on Healthy Seafood Selection for Families and the EPA provide guidance on how much to consume and how to choose the safest options.

Fish provides numerous health benefits, particularly for infants, young children, and pregnant women. So how much and which varieties of fish should you offer your family? The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provide standards for safe fish consumption, making it easy to navigate the fish counter. This is what parents must know.

How Much Fish Should My Household Consume?

The FDA suggests that children consume fish twice each week. This is because the nutrients in fish, such as omega-3 fats, protein, vitamins, and minerals, boost the development of their brains and immune systems. Pregnant or breastfeeding women are advised to eat two or three servings of fish a week because fish is good for a growing baby.

Selecting the Best Fish Choices

The FDA has produced a three-tiered list of fish based on mercury concentration, a heavy metal that can cause brain and nervous system damage if taken in excess. The list is separated into “Best Choices,” “Good Choices,” and “Avoid Choices.”

Below is the content of each category.

Best Choices

Always choose fish from the “Best Choices” category, as these species contain the lowest levels of mercury and other heavy metals, making them the healthiest options. The FDA recognizes 36 species of fish, including popular variations that frequently appear on restaurant menus and supermarket fish counters.

  • Atlantic mackerel
  • Black sea bass
  • Cod
  • Lobster
  • Oyster
  • Crab
  • Catfish
  • Clams
  • Flounder Haddock
  • Tilapia
  • Trout
  • Salmon
  • Shrimp
  • Whitefish
  • Tuna (canned-lite, includes skipjack)

Good Choices

The “Good Choices” category contains 19 species of fish. These fish have greater mercury levels than those mentioned under “Best Options,” so you should limit weekly meals to one. They consist of the following:

  • Canned albacore (white) tuna
  • Grouper
  • Halibut
  • Mahi Mahi
  • Snapper
  • Tuna

Choices To Avoid

Because of the high mercury level, children, as well as pregnant and breastfeeding women, should avoid all types on the FDA’s “Choices to Avoid” list. The seven identified species include:

  • King mackerel
  • Swordfish
  • Tilefish (Gulf of Mexico)
  • Orange roughy
  • Shark
  • Marlin
  • Tuna, bigeye

What About Captured Fish?

The FDA advises checking for fish or shellfish advisories to ensure the safety of your catch. You can search the EPA’s online database for fish advisories depending on state, territory, or tribe.

FDA Recommendations for Safe Fish Consumption

If your family consumes fish, follow these FDA and EPA rules and recommendations for safe eating.

Fish is suitable for babies.

After their first birthday, children can consume around 1 ounce of fish from the “Best Choices” list twice per week. This recommendation follows the most recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which advice introducing potentially allergic foods such as fish, peanuts, egg, cow’s milk, and soy when other solids are introduced.

There is no scientific evidence that postponing the consumption of certain foods can help prevent food allergies. But, always consult your pediatrician first, especially if there is a history of food allergies in your family or if there are indicators of other sensitivities.

Fish is healthy for pregnant women.

According to research, fish consumption is related to improved cognitive results in infants. The FDA advises pregnant women to consume between two and three servings each week. As with children, the majority of fish servings for adults should come from the list of “Best Choices.”

Fish is essential for young children.

The body utilizes several nutrients in fish, including omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, iron, zinc, and choline for fetal and early childhood brain, spinal cord, and immune system development.

Fish is beneficial to general health.

Fish has health benefits for more than only infants and children. Those who consume fish have a lower incidence of obesity, hip fractures, colon cancer, and rectal cancer, according to scientific research.

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