Navigating the world of seafood can sometimes feel like sailing through murky waters, especially when it comes to mercury content. While fish is a fantastic source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, certain types pack a punch with high levels of mercury, posing health risks. We’re shining a light on those fish and offering up a net-full of safer alternatives so you can make informed choices to enjoy seafood that’s not only tasty but also good for your health.

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King Mackerel

A plate of fish with sauce and rice.
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King mackerel, which is a different species from the canned Atlantic mackerel you may normally eat, are large, predatory fish that accumulate mercury due to their long life span and high position in the food chain. Opt for smaller, short-lived species such as Atlantic mackerel, sardines or herring for similar oily richness without the mercury risk.

Swordfish

Swordfish on a plate with salad and lemons.
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Swordfish, while a popular steak-like option in any upscale restaurant, are known for their high mercury levels because they are large, predatory fish that eat a lot of smaller fish, accumulating mercury over time. For a similar texture but with lower mercury, try mahi-mahi or salmon.

Shark

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Shark is much less common in most people’s diets but beware that they’re also high on the list of mercury due to their diet of other fish and their long lifespans. A safer alternative with a firm texture is wild-caught Pacific halibut.

Tilefish

Two fish on a plate with chopsticks.
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Tilefish from the Gulf of Mexico are bottom-dwelling fish living at the edge of the continental shelfare. According to the FDA, they contain an average of 1 part per million high in mercury because they live longer and eat smaller, mercury-containing fish. Swap tilefish for tilapia or catfish for a mild, sweet flavor with less environmental impact.

Tuna

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Certain tuna species, like bigeye and bluefin, are high in mercury due to their size, diet, and longevity. Light canned tuna (skipjack) or wild-caught Alaskan salmon are better options for lower mercury content.

Orange Roughy

A plate of fried fish with broccoli and brussels sprouts.
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Orange Roughy is prized for its mild flavor and firm texture, suitable for various cooking methods. Its popularity, however, is shadowed by high mercury levels due to its long lifespan (up to 150 years) and diet. For a similar culinary experience without the mercury concern, consider U.S. farmed trout or Arctic char as sustainable and safer options. These alternatives provide comparable flavor and versatility in recipes.

Marlin

Grilled fish with tomatoes on a white plate.
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Marlin is a highly sought-after game fish known for its impressive size and the challenge it presents to anglers. Its rich, slightly sweet meat makes it a favorite for grilling and sashimi. However, marlins’ high mercury content (about .5 PPM), a result of their predatory lifestyle and position at the top of the food chain, raises health concerns. For those seeking similar taste and texture, striped bass or U.S. farmed barramundi are excellent, lower-mercury alternatives.

Grouper

Grouper fish with chili sauce on a white plate.
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Grouper is celebrated for its moist, mild-flavored meat, which is versatile enough for a range of dishes. If you’ve ever been to Florida, you’ll find Grouper on almost restuarant menu whether fried, steamed or stuffed in a taco. This fish’s tendency to accumulate mercury comes from its diet of smaller fish. As a safer choice, Pacific halibut or U.S. farmed catfish offer a similar flaky texture and mild taste, making them great substitutes for grouper in any recipe.

Bluefish

A group of fish on ice with a lemon slice.
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Bluefish are known for their strong, rich flavor and oily meat, making them a favorite among those who appreciate bolder tasting fish. However, their place high in the marine food web means they can have significant mercury levels. Sardines or mackerel, with their similarly robust flavors but

Sablefish

A white bowl with a piece of sablefish and corn.
Honey Lime Sablefish. Photo credit: Running to the Kitchen.

Sablefish, or black cod, is revered for its buttery, rich flavor and velvety texture, often featured in fine dining establishments, particularly famous for its use in miso-glazing techniques. While it’s lower in mercury compared to the other fish mentioned, it can still pose a risk when consumed in large amounts. Atlantic mackerel or Pacific cod are healthier alternatives that offer a comparable depth of flavor and richness without the high mercury levels.

Which Side Are You On?

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Ever wonder why some foods split the room, with half the table diving in and the other half turning up their noses? It’s not just about picky eating; there’s a whole science behind why certain tastes and textures either hit the spot or miss the mark entirely. From the genetic makeup that affects how we perceive flavors to the love-it-or-hate-it textures, we dive deep into the curious world of polarizing foods.

See Them Here: 11 Foods You Either Love Or Hate – Which Side Are You On?

12 Iconic Foods From The 90s Every Millennial Loved

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Take a nostalgic trip back to the 90s with us as we revisit some of the most iconic snacks of the decade. From the gum that turned every kid into a bubble-blowing champion to the treats that were the highlight of every school lunch, these snacks defined a generation. Remember the excitement of unwrapping your favorite after-school snack?

See Them Here: 12 Iconic Foods From The 90s Every Millennial Loved

These Are 9 Of The Worst Movie Snacks And Here’s Why

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You’re cozied up for movie night, the screen is glowing, and then it happens: your snack choice turns the evening south. It’s a universal truth that not all snacks are created equal, especially when it comes to enjoying them in front of a movie. Here are the top 9 snacks in no particular order that have a notorious reputation for dampening the movie-watching vibe.

See them here: These Are 9 Of The Worst Movie Snacks And Here’s Why

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Founder and Writer at Running to the Kitchen | About

Gina Matsoukas is an AP syndicated writer. She is the founder, photographer and recipe developer of Running to the Kitchen — a food website focused on providing healthy, wholesome recipes using fresh and seasonal ingredients. Her work has been featured in numerous media outlets both digital and print, including MSN, Huffington post, Buzzfeed, Women’s Health and Food Network.

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