Advice for Fish You Buy from Stores and Restaurants

Fish and shellfish are an important part of a healthy diet.

  • Fish and shellfish supply high-quality protein and other essential nutrients and most are low in saturated fat.
  • Eating fish and shellfish can contribute to heart health and children's proper growth.
  • Women and children especially should include fish or shellfish in their diets because of the many nutritional benefits.

Guide to fish you buy
that are lower in mercury and higher in omega-3 fatty acids


Recommendations from the EPA/FDA Advisory for Eating Fish

Federal Advice about Eating Fish for Women of Childbearing Age and Parents of Young Children

In January 2017, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Food and Drug Administration updated their advice “for women of childbearing age (about 16-49 years old), especially pregnant and breastfeeding women, and for parents and caregivers of young children.”  The advice covers fish from stores and restaurants, as well as sport fish.  The advice is based on mercury levels found in fish and recommends consumption rates for “best choices” and “good choices”, as well as “choices to avoid.” “Choices to avoid” include King mackerel, shark, tilefish (from the Gulf of Mexico), swordfish, marlin, bigeye tuna, and orange roughy.

For more information and to see the list of “best choices” and “good choices”, see the joint EPA/FDA advice chart.

Recommendations from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020

The advice relating to seafood consumption states, in part:

“For the general population, consumption of about 8 ounces per week of a variety of seafood, which provide an average consumption of 250 mg per day of EPA and DHA [omega 3s], is associated with reduced cardiac deaths among individuals with and without preexisting CVD [cardiovascular disease].  Similarly, consumption by women who are pregnant or breastfeeding of at least 8 ounces per week from seafood choices that are sources of DHA is associated with improved infant health outcomes. 


The recommendation to consume 8 or more ounces per week (less for young children) of seafood is for the total package of nutrients that seafood provides, including its EPA and DHA content.  Some seafood choices with higher amounts of EPA and DHA should be included. 


Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should consume at least 8 and up to 12 ounces of a variety of seafood per week, from choices that are lower in methyl mercury.


Obstetricians and pediatricians should provide guidance on how to make healthy food choices that include seafood.  Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding and young children should not eat certain types of fish that are high in methyl mercury.”

More detailed information can be found in the full report, Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020.