Fish / Seafood High and Least Mercury Contamination - List of Safe and Unsafe

Latest update: November 3, 2022. Page URL indicates original publication date; meanwhile, times change and the updates continue.

Fish - Seafood - Mercury Contamination Lists

Fish and Mercury Contamination – A General Rule of Thumb

The larger the particular seafood species and the longer that species normally lives, the higher that species' mercury content and levels.

This is the result of two factors:
  • Larger fish consume more food, and therefor consume more mercury.
  • Longer-living species consume more food than shorter-lived species, thus again consuming more mercury.
A basic ranking list of fish / seafood species and their relative mercury content levels follows.

List of Fish and Seafood Having the Highest Mercury Levels and Content

The following list of fish species having the worst mercury content contamination. The mercury levels are so high, the EPA flatly states that pregnant women (and women trying to become pregnant) and young children should not eat them at all.

What fish have high mercury content?

  • King Mackerel
  • Tilefish
  • Swordfish
  • Shark
  • Marlin
  • Tuna. When it comes to albacore tuna, I am doomed.  Though the mercury level is not as high as the others, it is still significant. I try to keep consumption within the FDA recommended limit, but I usually fail miserably.

List of Seafood and Fish That Are Lowest in Mercury Levels and Content

Considered safe to eat by pregnant women and young children in moderation, two 6-ounce portions spread out over the course of a week.

Which fish are low in mercury content and safest to eat?

  • Scallop
  • Clam
  • Anchovies
  • Salmon
  • Shrimp
  • Pacific oysters
  • Sardines
  • Herring
  • Pollock
  • Trout
  • Catfish
  • Anchovies
  • Atlantic and Pacific mackerel
  • Fish sticks, other fast-food fish, etc.
  • Canned, light tuna. Note. Albacore tuna has more mercury than light tuna. The EPA recommendation for albacore tuna is only one 6-ounce can a week.
  • Cod
  • Sablefish

Basic List of Nutrition Information for Fish and Other Seafood

Generally rich in:
  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Protein
  • B-complex vitamins
  • Vitamin E
  • Magnesium
  • Zinc
  • Iron
  • Red sockeye salmon is especially rich in vitamin D. Most people do not get enough of this vitamin.
  • Shellfish is loaded with iodine. It turns out that some people can have major allergic reactions to this particular mineral.

Fish Without Mercury List

There are none. Well, maybe your goldfish. Fortunately, the above list pretty much saves the day; leastwise, for now. The listed FDA resources substantiate and include additional information.

And speaking of seafood nutrition, here's an article about kelp and kelp supplements; talks about both the pros and cons. The Food Info Data Advice Label may also be worth a perusal.

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  1. I wrote a couple of blogs about this, but yours is so muh better and more information is included.

  2. Thanks for this helpful article!
    Shouldn’t scallops be on the lowest mercury list?

  3. Thank you as we are enhancing our puppy's food with light canned tuna and sardines.

    1. AS a professional canine nutritionist, I would not follow the advice here as no references are given for its conclusions and while it is generally known that albacore is likely higher in Mercury than other forms of tuna, commercial sardines even high end brands are almost always products of Thailand where there is absolutely no checks on how fish are raised and in MANY cases those fish are raised in crowded cages hung in water underneath the CROWDED cages of American chickens that are shipped overseas for processes and the diet of the fish contains virtually nothing but chicken excrement. Do NOT do that to your puppy - even adult humans at, say, 180lbs in weight are warned not to eat much tuna, so a 15 lb puppy... you do the math. If you want to add something akin to those fishes for your dog's meal try wild caught smelt about maybe $7/lb which is about what Bumblebee sardines cost.

  4. On what authority are you relying for your list? I just did a lot of research on safety of wild salmon and, of course, all of the coporate purveyors of same insisted that their fish was safe, had low toxins/mercury. But none had independent, non-industry owned verification of same. So exactly what expertise or sources are you relying on for creating this list? And why do not distinguish btwn, say, Pacific vs Atlantic Salmon which are very different levels?

  5. I will eat within the guideline & stay safe!!


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