There are many benefits to eating fish. It’s low in fat, a good source of protein, it has heart healthy Omega-3’s and it’s considered brain food. If you actually catch your own fish, it’s a fun way to get outside and enjoy Michigan’s 11,000 lakes, rivers and streams.
Although most fish are healthy, certain species can also contain a fair amount chemicals. One to be cautious of is Mercury. Mercury is a toxin released into the air via pollution and then accumulated in fish. When shopping for the healthiest fish, there are a lot of things to consider such as size, species and habitat.
“Mercury will bio-accumulate in the fish. The bigger the fish you will get, the more concentration of mercury you will have. The small fish eat the little plank, then the medium fish eat the small fish, each level it goes up the relative concentration and the contaminates increases,” said Department of Environmental Quality Engineer, Jay Parent.
Perch and Panfish are the lowest in Mercury.
Fish selection, and how you cut and prepare fish can make a huge difference in reducing the amount of toxins.
“If you skin the fish and take out the dark layer of meat between the filet and skin, that has a higher level of fat, that will reduce the levels of dioxins PCB’s. If you poke holes in the skin, that let’s the fat drain away from the fish. PCB’s and dioxins are fat soluble and the majority is tied up with the fat in the fish,” continued Parent.
Broiled and grilled fish is recommended for your health and safety. While carefully cleaning and cooking fish can remove a lot of the chemicals it does not remove Mercury. Controlling Mercury intake can only be regulated by proper fish selection and the amount you eat on a regular basis.
For more detailed information on eating safe fish visit michigan.gov/eatsafefish.