Suggestions for how often to eat the most common fish, based on mercury levels and whether the way they were farmed or caught damages the oceans

By Virginia Sole-Smith
Updated July 29, 2008
Fish tail
| Credit: Charles Schiller

Real Simple asked Tim Fitzgerald, a marine scientist for the Oceans program of the nonprofit organization Environmental Defense, to list the healthiest picks for you―and for the environment. You can download and cut out a foldable pocket-size guide.

* Because this fish is high in mercury or other contaminants, those who are pregnant, nursing, of child-bearing age, or feeding young children should avoid it entirely.

Twice a Week:

  • Catfish, U.S.
  • Caviar, U.S. farmed
  • Char, Arctic; farmed
  • Clams, farmed
  • Crab, Dungeness and stone
  • Herring, Atlantic
  • Mackerel, Atlantic
  • Mussels, farmed
  • Salmon, wild Alaskan
  • Scallops, bay; farmed
  • Shrimp, U.S. farmed
  • Striped bass, farmed
  • Sturgeon, farmed
  • Tilapia, U.S.
  • Trout, rainbow; farmed

Once a Week:

  • Halibut, Pacific
  • Sablefish (a.k.a. black cod), Alaska or Canada
  • Tuna, albacore (a.k.a. white); canned or fresh; U.S. or Canada*

Once a Month:

  • Basa or tra (a.k.a. catfish), Vietnam
  • Clams, wild
  • Cod, Pacific
  • Crab, blue*
  • Crab, king; U.S.
  • Crab, snow (a.k.a. tanner)
  • Flounder and sole, Pacific
  • Lobster, American or Maine
  • Mahimahi
  • Sablefish (a.k.a. black cod); California, Oregon, or Washington Salmon, wild; California, Oregon, or Washington
  • Scallops, sea; New England or Canada
  • Shrimp, northern; U.S. or Canada Shrimp, wild; U.S.
  • Squid
  • Swordfish, U.S.*
  • Tilapia, Latin America
  • Tuna, albacore (a.k.a. white); canned; imported*
  • Tuna, light; canned
  • Tuna, yellowfin (a.k.a. ahi); U.S.*

Try to Avoid:

  • Caviar, imported wild
  • Chilean sea bass*
  • Cod, Atlantic
  • Crab, king; imported
  • Crawfish, China
  • Flounder and sole, Atlantic
  • Grouper*
  • Haddock
  • Halibut, Atlantic
  • Monkfish
  • Orange roughy*
  • Rockfish, Pacific
  • Salmon, farmed or Atlantic
  • Shark*
  • Shrimp and prawns, imported
  • Skate
  • Snapper, red
  • Swordfish, imported*
  • Tilapia, Asia
  • Tuna, bluefin*
  • Tuna, yellowfin (a.k.a. ahi); imported*