Fish

  • We should be eating at least two portions (2 x 140g cooked weight) of sustainably sourced fish per week, including a portion of oily fish (we will explain a little more about sustainability below).
  • In the UK, people should be trying to eat more fish, as average fish consumption among adults is only 54g per week (well below the recommendation of two 140g portions per week).

Remember:

   Oily fish can be fresh, frozen or canned, and includes salmon, sardines, mackerel, whitebait and trout.

 

  • Fish and shellfish are good sources of lots of vitamins and minerals. However, in particular, oily fish are natural sources of vitamin D and are the richest source of a special type of fat called long chain omega-3 fatty acids, which may help to prevent heart disease.
  • To make healthier choices with fish, we should try and grill, bake, steam or poach fish rather than frying. We should also watch out for fish products in batter, pastry or breadcrumbs as they can be high in fat and/or salt.

Although currently we should be eating more fish, there are set government recommended maximum amounts for oily fish, some white fish and crab, as they can contain low levels of pollutants that may build up in the body. These recommendations are set to keep the intake of these pollutants to very low and safe limits:

 Type of fish  Population group  Recommendation for fish consumption

Oily fish

all types

General population

No more than 4 portions per week
Women planning pregnancy and women who are currently pregnant or breastfeeding No more than 2 portions per week
Swordfish General adult population (including breastfeeding women) No more than 1 portion per week

Children (under 16)

Women planning pregnancy and women who are currently pregnant

Should not consume swordfish (as it contains more mercury* than other fish)

White fish

shark and marlin

General adult population (including breastfeeding women) No more than 1 portion per week

Children (under 16)

Women planning pregnancy and women who are currently pregnant
Should not consume marlin (as it contains more mercury* than other fish)

White fish

sea bream, sea bass, turbot, halibut and rock salmon

General population (who regularly eat lots of fish) Avoid eating these types too often

Shellfish

brown crab meat

General population (who regularly eat lots of fish) Avoid eating too often

Canned tuna

 

Women planning pregnancy and women who are currently pregnant No more than 4 cans of tuna per week

*consuming high levels of mercury can cause health problems.

For more information about eating fish and shellfish when pregnant or trying for a baby, click here.

 

Fish and Sustainability

To ensure there are enough fish to eat now and in the future, we should try to eat a wide variety of fish and to buy fish from sustainable sources.

‘Sustainable’ fish or shellfish are those that don’t cause unnecessary damage to other marine animals and plants, and are caught or produced in a way that will allow fish stocks to be replenished. Some stocks are believed to be more abundant, such as coley, gurnard and mackerel.

Look out for ecolabels on certified fish products at the supermarket, such as the blue Marine Stewardship Council logo.

Next page: Meat, poultry and game