There is much debate about what types of fish are safe to consume. Consumers can fish for information about healthy eating in their wallet thanks to a user-friendly card created by Dr. Charlie Santerre.
"There is a two-prong message that can be confusing when it comes to eating fish," said Dr. Santerre. "Fish has valuable health benefits, such as omega-3 fatty acids that benefit brain development in babies and cardiovascular health in adults. However, eating too much of certain fish can lead to higher mercury exposure which can harm your baby. This card is about getting the message out more efficiently that women should eat fish but also that not all fish are the same."
The "Fish for Your Health" card is available from the Indiana State Department of Health and its county offices, including: County Cooperative Extension offices; the Family Nutrition Program; and the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program. The card also will be distributed at the Indiana state fair and county fairs this summer. More than 300,000 cards have already been distributed.
The cards are designed to provide information for women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or who may become pregnant, as well as for young children. These groups can benefit from the healthy fats, such as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), that are found in fish, said Santerre. The 2004 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee recommended that women eat 8 ounces of fish per week in order to obtain the healthy nutrients found in fish.
The card lists salmon, rainbow trout (farm-raised), herring, mackerel, sardines and whitefish as the best fish choices because they are lowest in mercury and highest in healthy fats. The card also highlights fish that have lower mercury levels, as well as fish childbearing-aged women should never eat because of high mercury levels, such as swordfish, shark, king mackerel and grouper.
IIf eaten regularly, mercury can harm the developing nervous system of a fetus or nursing infant. Pregnant or nursing women should also use caution when eating fish that is caught locally, Santerre said. The project is supported by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management and the Indiana State Department of Health. For more information visit the Fish Consumption Advisory website: http://fn.cfs.purdue.edu/fish4health/.