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Know where fish comes from before pushing it off the menu
Ask the Nutrionist
By Karen Collins | Columnist
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Published: 7/14/20 12:01 AM

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Q. I recently heard on television that mackerel is a fish high in mercury and amounts we eat should be limited. Isn't it one of the recommended sources of omega-3 fat?

A. That depends on the type of mackerel. Fish can be excellent sources of many nutrients, and some (such as mackerel) are particularly good sources of the omega-3 fat that seems to lower the risk of stroke and heart attack and reduce inflammation throughout the body.

Unfortunately, some fish come with contaminants accumulated from polluted waters. Methylmercury poses particular risk to young children, so women of childbearing age and children up to age 12 are advised to avoid the fish most susceptible to this contamination: swordfish, shark, tile fish and king mackerel.

For other adults, occasional consumption (one to three times monthly) of these choices is considered reasonable. Spanish mackerel is not quite as high in mercury, but high enough that children and childbearing-age women should limit consumption: Recommended limits of this fish vary from 4 ounces a week to once to twice a month. The top choice is Atlantic mackerel (sometimes called Boston mackerel): it's high in omega-3 fat and low in contaminants.

Some other fish choices highest in omega-3 fat and low in contaminants include wild salmon, sablefish (also called "black cod"), Arctic char, sardines and farmed rainbow trout. Barramundi, farmed striped bass and mussels have slightly less, but still substantial, omega 3's and are all-round great options.

• Provided by the American Institute for Cancer Research. More abou the group and its New American Plate program at