Monday, October 31, 2011

Safe Sushi: A Consumer’s Guide to Preventing Mercury Poisoning

Sushi lovers beware: It does matter what types of fish are rolled up in that nori. With the help of the Monterey Bay Aquarium, you can select fish that is healthier for both you and the environment.

Plate of sushi with chopsticks
Avoid mercury-laden sushi

Mercury is a metal that originates on land, then works its way into our waters where it's absorbed by smaller fish. However, mercury does not dissolve or break down, but rather accumulates as larger, predatory fish eat down the food chain.

When humans consume mercury-laden fish, the mercury is absorbed into our systems, acting as a toxin that can impact brain function and development. Those who are pregnant should specifically stay away from food sources that could contain mercury.

Use the following information to create a more sustainable and safe roll:

  • Tuna is the most common source of mercury exposure, because Americans consume it more than other mercury-laden fish. The Environmental Defense Fund has reported that bluefin tuna have some of the highest mercury levels.
  • Albacore tuna is known as shiro maguro when prepared for sushi. Order troll- or pole-caught albacore as these methods catch younger tuna with lower mercury levels.
  • Other alternatives include freshwater Coho salmon, wild-caught Masago (smelt roe) and Atlantic mackerel.
  • Take advantage of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program. Its recommendations are science-based, peer-reviewed and use ecosystem-based criteria. Download its sushi guide (pdf).

Angela Waco, dietetic intern, and Debra A. Boutin, MS, RD, chair and dietetic internship director, Department of Nutrition and Exercise Science at Bastyr University.

FALL 2016
Have questions about a program?
Request information »

More Health Tips

The chemicals found in many conventional cleaners can range from mildly irritating to carcinogenic or downright damaging to your body and the environment. Do yourself and the planet a favor by making your own using safe, natural products.

Other than potential food safety concerns, date codes are usually about what will taste the best.

Avoid jet lag on your next trip... naturally.

In search of better rest? Try these foods rich in nutrients that support a healthy sleep cycle.

A deeper dive into the causes of allergies -- and lots of natural ways to relieve symptoms.

Smoothies can be a source of excessive sugar or calories if you don't pay attention to ingredients.

Subscribe to Newsletters

CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
4 + 0 =
Solve this simple math problem and enter the result. E.g. for 1+3, enter 4.