Is Tuna Safe To Eat? Here’s What You Need To Know

Tuna is a saltwater fish founds in Atlantic Ocean and eaten all over the world.

The bigger fish like tuna have more mercury because they eat the smaller fish, who also eat mercury. Tuna has a lot of fat where the mercury accumulates.

Mercury, an element that occurs naturally in the environment. Is also released to the environment through many types of human activity. It can collect in streams, lakes, and oceans, and is turned into methylmercury in the water or sediment. It is this type of mercury that is present in fish. Methylmercury is harmful to the brain and nervous system if a person gets too much of it over time.

How Contaminated Is Tuna?

Mercury is released into the atmosphere or directly into the ocean by both natural processes. Natural volcanic eruptions and industrial processes. Also responsible reasons are like coal burning, where it begins to accumulate in marine life.

Tuna has more mercury than salmon, oysters, lobster, scallops, and tilapia, which are all popular seafood.

This is due to the fact that tuna eats smaller fish already contaminated with mercury in varying concentrations. Mercury builds up in tuna tissues over time because it is hard to get rid of.

Chart showing mercury levels in Tuna

Chart showing mercury levels in Tuna

Dangers of Mercury Exposure

Due to the dangers of mercury exposure, the mercury in tuna is a health concern.

Mercury can build up in your body in the same way it does in fish tissues over time. A doctor can measure the concentration of mercury in your hair and blood to determine how much mercury is in your body.

Brain Cells

Mercury exposure at high levels can cause the death of brain cells and impair fine motor skills, memory, and focus.

One study of 129 adults found that on tests of memory, logic, and fine motor skills, those with the highest mercury levels performed significantly worse than those with lower mercury levels.

Anxiety and Depression

Anxiety and depression can also result from mercury exposure.

Adults exposed to mercury at work had significantly more symptoms of depression and anxiety and took longer to process information than control subjects, according to a study.

Is there methylmercury in all fish?

Nearly all fish contain at least traces of methylmercury. Fish absorb methylmercury from the food they eat. It tends to build up more in some types of fish than others, especially in larger fish that eat other fish and those fish that live longer.

Cardiovascular Disease

Lastly, mercury accumulation may result in an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. This could be because mercury plays a role in the process of fat oxidation, which can cause this disease.

A study of over 1,800 men found that those who consumed the most fish and had the highest mercury levels were twice as likely to die from heart attacks and heart disease.

However, other studies suggest that eating fish for heart health may outweigh the potential dangers of mercury consumption and that high mercury exposure does not increase the risk of heart disease.

Should I Stop Eating Fish To Avoid Mercury?

No. Fish can contribute to a healthy diet. Studies on pregnant ladies found that the nutritional benefits of fish were important for their child’s brain development. While it is important to limit mercury in the diets of those who are pregnant or breastfeeding and children, many types of fish are both nutritious and lower in mercury.

Most individuals, including those who are pregnant or breastfeeding and children, eat less than the recommended amount of fish. On average, individuals who are pregnant eat only 4.2 ounces and those who are breastfeeding eat only 7 ounces of fish a week, rather than the recommended amount of 8 to 12 ounces per week. Almost all children do not eat the recommended amount of fish. The chart in this advice shows which fish are the “Best Choices” for those who might become or are pregnant or breastfeeding and for children.

Remember – Eat a variety of fish

It is a good idea to remove skin, fat, and internal organs where other types of harmful pollutants may accumulate for fish you and your friends catch before you cook these fish. This is particularly true because fish from some local waters may be more likely to contain other contaminants.

And remember – eat a variety of fish, not just the same type every time you eat fish.

Source of protein, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, minerals, and vitamins

Fish are one source of protein, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, minerals, and vitamins that are beneficial to overall health. A healthy eating pattern consists of choices across all food groups (vegetables, fruits, grains, dairy, and protein foods which can include nutritious options other than fish).

There are different types (or species) of tuna, such as albacore, bigeye, and yellowfin. Some types of tuna that are bigger or live longer tend to have higher mercury levels, and that is why they are in different categories. So, canned light tuna is in the “Best Choices” category, albacore (or white) tuna and yellowfin tuna are in the “Good Choices” category.

Bigeye tuna is in the “Choices to Avoid” category for pregnant women. In addition, fish from the same species that are caught in different geographic locations can vary in mercury content. Like tilefish are in two categories because tilefish in the Gulf of Mexico have higher mercury levels than those in the Atlantic Ocean.

Nutrients In Fish

Most fish are an excellent source of protein. Most of the fat that is present in fish is healthy polyunsaturated fat.

The polyunsaturated omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and omega-6 fatty acids are present in many types of fish and – along with iron, iodine, and choline – are among the key nutrients for the rapid brain development that occurs in early childhood. Fish are important sources of selenium, zinc, and other minerals needed by the body. Fish are also natural sources of many B vitamins, like vitamin B12, and oily fish provide vitamins A and D. Iron and zinc also support children’s immune systems, and choline also supports development of the baby’s spinal cord.

Eating fish may provide heart health benefits. Healthy eating patterns that include fish may have other benefits, too. Moderate scientific evidence shows that eating patterns relatively higher in fish.

Also in other foods, including vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, low- or non-fat dairy, lean meats and poultry, nuts, and unsaturated vegetable oils. Observed lower in red and processed meats, sugar-sweetened foods and beverages.

The refined grains associate with the promotion of bone health, decreased risk of becoming overweight or obese and decreased risk for colon and rectal cancers.

Fish intake during pregnancy is recommended because moderate evidence shows it can help the baby’s cognitive development.