Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Fish anyone?

  • Canada’s Food Guide recommends at least two - 75 g servings of fish per week. 

Pat MacIntosh, Alberta Health Services - Fish is an important part of a healthy diet for people of all ages. It is an excellent source of protein, vitamin D, and omega-3 fatty acids which help maintain a healthy heart. When pregnant women eat fish, it helps with brain and eye development of the growing baby.

However, some people avoid fish due to concerns about mercury. Most fish is low in mercury and safe to eat. Common examples are Atlantic mackerel, canned light tuna, clams, haddock, herring, oysters, rainbow trout, salmon, sardines, shrimp, sole, pollock (Boston bluefish), and whitefish.

Other fish such as canned albacore (white) tuna, fresh or frozen tuna, marlin, shark or swordfish contain high amounts of mercury. Limit intake of these fish. High amounts of mercury can harm an unborn baby or young child’s developing nervous system. For adults, mercury levels can build up over time which can damage the brain, kidney and heart. It is very important for women of childbearing age and children to limit their intake of foods containing mercury. 

For more information on mercury, search ‘Mercury in Fish’ at Health Canada or go to The levels of mercury in fish caught in local lakes, rivers or coastal areas can vary. Check for fish consumption advisories at under ‘Advisories, Corrections and Closures.’

There are so many benefits of eating fish. Choose low mercury fish options and try them in a variety of tasty ways. One of my favourite fish recipes is Cedar Baked Salmon. Fast Fish and Fresh Herb Veggie Packets is another tasty option. It is a quick and easy meal that can be prepared with almost any type of fish and would work equally well at home or when camping this summer. These two recipes and others can be found on the Dietitians of Canada website,

On a side note: Alberta’s many lakes, rivers and streams have a variety of freshwater fish. If you are thinking you would like to try your hand at fishing, July 7 and 8 is a free family fishing weekend. No fishing license is required but fishing regulations still apply. Maybe you will get ‘hooked’ on fishing!

Pat MacIntosh is a Registered Dietitian with Alberta Health Services, Nutrition Services. She can be reached by e-mail,

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