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The American Heart Association recommends aiming for at least two 3-ounce servings of fish a week. It’s a great source of lean protein, B-vitamins and the omega-3 oil that protects your heart, combats arthritis and depression and even fights wrinkles. A recent study found that older people who eat fish at least once a week might reduce their risk of Alzheimer’s by more than half. But what about mercury or those “color added” signs on salmon at the fish counter? Here’s a quick guide to navigating the information:
Salmon: Highest in omega-3 fats and lowest in mercury. While wild salmon is preferable (it’s free from some toxic chemicals and colorants found in the farmed variety) most health experts agree that the benefits of eating farmed salmon far outweigh any risks. The “color added” sign refers to color additives in salmon feed — and while it sounds strange, it’s harmless. (They’re the same additives found in many juices, ketchups, salad dressings, etc.)
Sardines: Packed with omega-3, just two tiny sardines give you as much calcium as 1/3 cup of milk, as well as a full day’s supply of B-12.
Flounder, cod, haddock: Low-fat low-calorie protein and low in mercury. Flounder is high in omega-3, while haddock and cod have less.
Shrimp & scallops: Other low-mercury options, low in calories and fat. Bonus: Shrimp helps you meet your daily iron requirements.
Proceed with caution:
Highest in mercury: swordfish, shark, king mackerel, tilefish, grouper, tuna (fresh). These should be avoided by small children, nursing and pregnant women, as well as those trying to conceive. Other fish relatively high in mercury include Mahi Mahi and red snapper — best if consumed occasionally. Canned tuna is generally lower in mercury, though “light” tuna is lower than albacore.