Fish Safe To Eat On Good Friday


Good Friday, like all Fridays during lent, is a day of abstinence from meat for catholics, so what better time to talk about the potential dangers of too much fish in our diet?

Fish has always been considered a great source of nutrition, but there's been some concern recently about unsafe levels of mercury, which can damage a young child's nervous system.

Health Magazine contributor and clinical nutritionist Samantha Heller talks to The Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith to sort it all out.

"Mercury is a heavy metal and it's a neurotoxin," Heller explains. "Particularly for developing fetuses it can affect the development in the neurological, brain and nervous system. It's very dangerous."

It is particulary dangerous for pregnant women or nursing women because mercury can cross the placenta barrier, Heller explains. "When we eat fish contaminated with mercury it can go into the fetus. Not only that, our bodies store it for a while. Even women considering ever having children have to watch on how much fish they're eating that are high in mercury."

The following are fish with high mercury levels:
King Mackerel,

"They're at the top of the food chain," Heller says, "They're eating the fish that have mercury and they're in the water longer because they're older. The mercury binds with proteen in the fish. When you're eating fish, you're eating proteen that's bound with the mercury."

There are, however, low mercury fish pregnant nursing women, or women who can become pregnant can consume.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, they can consume: shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, pollock, and catfish.

Heller adds, "The FDA says they can have 6 ounces of albacore tuna a week. Some think that's too much as opposed to the chunk light tuna."

The same recommendations apply to young children, Heller says. "Children have smaller bodies. A toddler you want to give smaller portions. I wouldn't give them the albacore tuna."