One of the staple proteins of a sensible low carb diet has always been fish. One of the best food sources for important nutrients, such as omega fats, is fish. But all the bad news about PCBs, heavy metals, and other toxins found in fish makes you pause to reconsider the wisdom of enjoying them very often, whatever the weight loss, brain health, or cardiovascular benefits might be. After all, you can get protein from other less toxic sources–pasture-fed beef and lamb, natural chicken and pork, cage free eggs. And you can get purified omegas from both marine and farmed algae sources and not have to worry about the contaminants.
But, doggone it, if you like fish (and I do) how can you reconcile feasting on them in good conscience?
With these thoughts in my head, I happened to be sorting through the big bags of literature that Mike and I lugged home from the big Natural Foods Expo West that we attended in March, when I stumbled onto a handy little wallet sized card I’d picked up at the Nordic Naturals booth. (Nordic Naturals is a company that makes a really high quality line of fresh, pure omega-3 supplement products for adults and kids–free of heavy metals, dioxins, and PCBs.) The card they were handing out contains a quick reference to the mercury levels found in all the fish we typically consume as food. It avers that its data came from the Natural Resources Defense Council or NRDC, so I clicked onto their website, which indeed contains the same helpful groupings of fish by ‘Highest” “High” “Lower” and Lowest” mercury content and a whole lot more fish and shellfish info. Their data, so they say, comes from tests conducted by the FDA.
I was gratified to see that some of my favorites are in the lowest category: Anchovies, calamari, caviar, spiny lobster, oysters, and sardines. I admit that I was secretly pleased to see mackerel in the “Highest – Avoid Eating” category, since I don’t especially like mackerel and now I have a good reason to eliminate it from my sashimi combo in the future. Sadly, other of my favorites–Maine Lobster and Tuna–were in the “High” category.
I suppose I can take some small measure of solace that my beloved lobsters weren’t in the very highest category. That’s not to say I won’t eat them now and again, because my love of eating a big, hot, Maine lobster with the butter dripping down my chin and onto my lobster bib is legend; I enjoy one every time we visit Maine and intend to continue to do so. Fortunately, we don’t travel to Maine as often as we once did, so my heavy metal exposure will have a limit. If I lived on the coast of Maine, I fear I would probably have destroyed my brain with mercury long go.
In the meantime, thanks to this info, I can order up a plate of oysters on the half shell and pile extra anchovies on my Caesar salad with a clear conscience.