California Department of Public Health logo: three likenesses of people colored blue, green, and orange  
Last Edited: 7/7/09

Fish

Fish and shellfish are an important part of a nutritious and healthy diet. They are low in saturated fats and an excellent source of protein and other nutrients.  Fish are also an important source of omega-3 fatty acids, which can reduce the risk of heart disease. Recent studies have also shown improved cognitive development in babies born to mothers who ate fish while pregnant. 

 
But, some fish may also contain chemicals like mercury which may be harmful to your health.  Mercury is of greatest concern to the developing fetus and children.  In 2004, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) issued a Consumer Advisory for women ages 18-45 and children. The Consumer Advisory recommends that women and children limit the amount of fish they eat and avoid some types of fish.  The Consumer Advisory is summarized below.  See also the link to the FDA.  
 
Fish Eating Guidelines for Women 18-45 and Children 1-17

 

You can get the most health benefits by choosing fish low in chemicals and high in Omega-3 fatty acids.  The fish listed below are low in mercury and good sources of Omega-3s:

 
  • Salmon
  • Sardines
  • Herring
  • Atlantic and Chub (Pacific) Mackerel (NOT King Mackerel)
  • Trout
Fish Consumption Advice for Waterbodies in California
 
Some lakes, reservoirs, rivers, and bays where people fish in California have been contaminated with mercury, PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) or other chemicals. The California Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) has issued advisories for many water bodies in California. The advisories provide information for safely eating fish caught in these areas. To learn more about advisories for waterbodies in California, see:http://www.oehha.ca.gov/fish.html
 
Below are links for more information on fishing and eating fish in California.

Topics

 

Fact Sheets

  • Mercury in Fish Fact Sheet  --  Fish are nutritious for you and your family....

  • San Francisco Bay Fish Postcard  --  This 5.5 by 8.5 inch postcard provides information on the San Francisco Bay fish advisory and how to safely fish, cook, and consume fish caught in San Francisco Bay....

 

Papers

 

Related Projects

 

Contacts

  • Alyce Ujihara , Ian Walker