Fish and shellfish are an important part of a healthy diet. They are a great source of protein and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. However, for women who are nursing, pregnant or may become pregnant, it is important to consider the quantity and type of fish and shellfish before you eat it.
Mercury is a metal that can harm the brain of your unborn baby, even before it is conceived. Unfortunately, almost all fish and shellfish contain some mercury. Mercury mainly gets into our bodies by the fish we eat. However, different kinds of fish and shellfish have varying levels of mercury. Fish is still an important part of your diet, but it is necessary that you avoid certain types of fish and limit your portions of others.
You can eat one serving (six ounces) per week of:
- Tuna steaks
- Canned albacore or chunk white tuna
You can eat two servings (12 ounces) per week of:
- Shrimp, crab, clams, oysters, scallops
- Canned light tuna
Fish to avoid:
- King mackerel
- Raw or uncooked fish or shellfish (e.g. clams, oysters, scallops)
- Refrigerated uncooked seafood (labeled nova-style, lox, kippered, smoked or jerky)
If you eat fish caught locally, you should check local advisories from your state health department about any mercury or other pollution warnings. Local fish advisories can also be found on the Web site of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. If you’re unsure about the safety of a fish from local waters, only eat six ounces per week and don’t eat any other fish that week.