The US FDA has revised 2017 dietary guidelines providing fish advice for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers and young children highlighting the need for avoiding certain varieties of fish.
The agency aims to help consumers who should limit their exposure to mercury choose from the many types of fish that are lower in mercury – including ones commonly found in grocery stores, such as salmon, shrimp, pollock, canned light tuna, tilapia, catfish and cod.
It is important to note that women who might become pregnant, or who are pregnant or breastfeeding—along with young children—should avoid the few types of commercial fish with the highest levels of mercury including king mackerel, marlin, orange roughy, shark, swordfish, tilefish, bigeye tuna etc listed on the chart .
“Fish and shellfish are an important part of a well-rounded diet. However, we know many consumers worry about mercury in fish and even choose to limit or avoid fish because of this concern,”. said Susan Mayne, Ph.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition in a press release.
Women in the U.S. who are pregnant are consuming far less than the recommended amount of seafood, she added
The agency had released an easy-to-use reference chart to help consumers more easily understand the types of fish to eat more or less based on their mercury levels in 2017.
Though the information in the chart has not changed, the revised guidelines expand information about the benefits of fish as part of healthy eating patterns by promoting the science-based recommendations of the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
They provide advice for people in the U.S. 2 years of age and older and recommend that adults eat at least 8 ounces of seafood per week based on a 2,000 calorie diet.
The new guidance highlights the many nutrients found in fish, several of which have important roles in growth and development during pregnancy and early childhood.
It also throws light on the potential health benefits of eating fish as part of a healthy eating pattern, particularly for improving heart health and lowering the risk of obesity.