The American Heart Association recommends everyone aim for two servings of fish each week. But you may wonder whether you should feed your kids fish because much of the seafood we consume contains mercury, an environmental toxin that’s especially dangerous for children’s smaller, still-developing nervous systems. Our advice is to serve fish regularly, but choose it wisely: the Food and Drug Administration (along with the Environmental Protection Agency) recommends some specific guides for safe seafood consumption for young children.
Children should not eat shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish—large “predatory” fish that tend to accumulate high levels of mercury. But kids can safely consume up to 12 ounces (two or three average meals) of fish and shellfish that are lower in mercury; five of the most commonly eaten varieties of fish are low in mercury: shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, pollock (commonly used in fish sticks) and catfish. However, no more than 6 ounces (1 medium can) should come from albacore (premium white) tuna each week.
It’s a good idea to limit fried fish, too: recent evidence suggests that commercially fried fish products may be low in omega-3 fatty acids and high in trans-fatty acids, and do not provide the same benefits as other sources of fish.