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Fishy Business – Safe and Unsafe Fish to Consume While Pregnant or Breastfeeding

Fishy Business_123rf-2Fish has a lot of nutrients that are very beneficial for you and your baby. Fish is a great source of protein, healthy fats and omega-3 fatty acids all of which have innumerable health benefits. You should definitely plan to regularly include fish in your pregnancy diet, as the benefits for your baby are enormous.

However, there are many types of fish that should be avoided when you are pregnant and breastfeeding. This article is dedicated to make it easier for expectant and new mothers to ascertain the types of fish they can eat.

Generally, make sure you know the mercury content for the type of fish you are eating (talk to your doctor and consult the chart below). Also, ensure that the fish you eat is completely cooked  to avoid any chance of infections.

As a general rule of thumb, avoid eating big ocean fish, which are higher up the food chain and live in deep waters. Mercury works its way up the food chain as large fish consume contaminated smaller fish. Mercury accumulates in the bodies of large fish and they can have mercury concentrations that are 10,000 times higher than those of their surrounding habitat.

Fish Checklist


Here is a list of fish according to mercury content:

Highest Mercury Content

You should completely avoid eating these varieties of fish if pregnant of breastfeeding:

  • Mackerel (King)
  • Marlin
  • Orange Roughy
  • Shark
  • Swordfish
  • Tilefish
  • Tuna (Bigeye, Ahi)
  • Hamour


High Mercury Content

Do not eat more than three servings (of 6 oz. each) of these types of fish, per month:

  • Bluefish
  • Grouper
  • Mackerel (Spanish, Gulf)
  • Sea Bass (Chilean)
  • Tuna (Canned Albacore)
  • Tuna (Yellow fin)


Moderate Mercury Content

Try not to eat more than six servings (of 6 oz. each), per month:

  • Bass (Striped, Black)
  • Carp
  • Cod (Alaskan)
  • Croaker (White Pacific)
  • Halibut (Atlantic)
  • Halibut (Pacific)
  • Jack smelt (Silverside)
  • Lobster
  • Mahi Mahi
  • Monkfish
  • Perch (Freshwater)
  • Sablefish
  • Skate
  • Snapper
  • Tuna (Canned
  • chunk light)
  • Tuna (Skipjack)
  • Weakfish (Sea Trout)


Low Mercury Content

You can consume up to 8 servings (of 6 oz. each) per month:

  • Anchovies
  • Butterfish
  • Catfish
  • Clam
  • Crab (Domestic)
  • Crawfish/Crayfish
  • Croaker (Atlantic)
  • Flounder
  • Haddock (Atlantic)
  • Hake
  • Herring
  • Mackerel (N. Atlantic, Chub)
  • Mullet
  • Oyster
  • Perch (Ocean)
  • Plaice
  • Pollock
  • Salmon (Canned)
  • Salmon (Fresh)
  • Sardine
  • Scallop
  • Shad (American)
  • Shrimp
  • Sole (Pacific)
  • Squid (Calamari)
  • Tilapia
  • Trout (Freshwater)
  • Whitefish
  • Whiting


Printout this list and take it on your next shopping expedition. We also highly recommend getting the “Mercury in Fish” app for your iPhone as it provides a quick and simple way to make decisions regarding seafood safety.

Best of luck and healthy eating!


  • Photograph credit: Copyright (c) <a href=’http://www.123rf.com’>123RF Stock Photos</a>
  • “American Pregnancy Association.” Promoting Pregnancy Wellness” http://www.americanpregnancy.org
  • “Natural Resources Defense Council – The Earth’s Best Defense | NRDC.” http://www.nrdc.org
  • “US Environmental Protection Agency.” EPA. http://www.epa.gov



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