They’re a good source of protein, and even better, the fatty kinds (salmon, sardines, albacore tuna) contain omega-3 fatty acids, whose health benefits―including a lower risk of heart attack and stroke and a probable immunity boost―continue to be discovered. What’s not so clear: how to eat fish safely, since many contain contaminants, like mercury and PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), that can damage the brain, the kidneys, and the lungs. “It’s easy to have blood levels of these chemicals higher than what the Environmental Protection Agency considers safe,” says Deborah Rice, Ph.D., a toxicologist for the state of Maine.
The middle ground: Each week, eat two to three servings of wild-caught fish, as farm-raised varieties have higher levels of added chemicals, says Amy Goodson, a registered dietitian at the Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital, in Fort Worth. Fish to avoid include imported swordfish, non-domestic tilapia, and shark. To see if a fish you like is a healthy choice, go to the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s website (montereybayaquarium.org).