PhotoExpectant moms, as well as those who are breastfeeding, are told to eat fish but steer clear of types that are high in mercury. Now, the FDA and the EPA have issued new guidelines on fish intake for kids and pregnant women.

The new guidelines are intended to help clarify which fish are considered by the agencies to be healthy, low-mercury sources of nutrients for pregnant women and young children.

According to the guidelines, recent and expectant mothers should avoid the following seven types of fish due to their high mercury content: tilefish from the Gulf of Mexico, shark, swordfish, orange roughy, bigeye tuna, marlin, and king mackerel.

Fish that are low in mercury include salmon, cod, shrimp, and tilapia. However, the FDA says pregnant women often don’t consume enough of these healthy, nutrient-packed varieties of fish.

2-3 servings per week

Fifty percent of pregnant women consume fewer than 2 ounces of fish per week, according to a survey by the FDA. Since fish contain nutrients that are beneficial to growing babies, women who are pregnant or nursing may want to consider ramping up their fish intake. 

Due to their high protein and healthy fat content, the agencies continue to recommend consuming 2-3 servings (or 8 to 12 ounces) of lower-mercury fish per week. Twelve ounces is the recommended maximum weekly consumption, according to the new guidelines.

“Fish are an important source of protein and other nutrients for young children and women who are or may become pregnant, or are breast-feeding. This advice clearly shows the great diversity of fish in the U.S. market that they can consume safely," said Dr. Stephen Ostroff, FDA Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine.

“This new, clear and concrete advice is an excellent tool for making safe and healthy choices when buying fish," he said in a news release.

To see which types of fish fall under the “best choices” category, click here.


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