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  • Writer's pictureLeah Jones

Time to Talk Tuna!

It is time for us to think about Tuna. I’ve never thought about tuna, except that I prefer salmon. No good foodie reason, I just prefer salmon. Well, a friend with some tuna connections has sent me some food for thought on brain food.


Below are some of the thoughts shared with her by a biologist. For the record, this is not a reactionary biologist. He drinks tap water and doesn’t use a brita and generally trusts government standards, but when it comes to Tuna—the industry has done a good job with marketing and lobbying it’s way into our bodies.


If you are going to eat it more than once a month, eat the cheap tuna (chunk light), not the albacore. If you are going to eat the fresh tuna steaks, no more than once every couple of months.


According to the data analysis in “Brain Food”:


Pregnant women, nursing mothers and all women of childbearing age, should not eat tuna steaks, sea bass, oysters from the Gulf Coast, marlin, halibut, pike, walleye, white croaker, and largemouth bass. These are in addition to FDA’s recommendation to entirely avoid shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish.


These women should eat no more than one meal per month combined of canned tuna, mahi-mahi, blue mussel, Eastern oyster, cod, pollock, salmon from the Great Lakes, blue crab from the Gulf of Mexico, wild channel catfish and lake whitefish.


The following fish are safer choices for avoiding mercury exposure: farmed trout or catfish, shrimp, fish sticks, flounder, wild Pacific salmon, croaker, haddock, and blue crab from the mid-Atlantic.


Also note what the biologist said about the cheap “chunk light” tuna being a healthier option than albacore. Please share this info as you see fit.



Like I said, take it with a grain of salt, cuz the tuna folks have influenced it.


Try this one on for size. It is a little more radical, but I think it is a lot better. http://www.ewg.org/reports/BrainFood/pr.html


For a good reference on the recent EPA/FDA agreement, cite the following: http://www.tompaine.com/feature2.cfm/ID/10180


For the tuna industry viewpoint check the following: http://www.tunafacts.com/mercury/statements/20040412.cfm


From what I know about the USEPA science-based position the Tom Paine article is right on the money. The tuna industry has far too much political influence. They have obviously prevailed by peddling their wares at the top of the US Gov. That said, I want to make it clear that the EPA/FDA advice, followed completely, is probably ok.


As I have told you, the thing that concerns me is that too many people, especially young and middle-aged women, have learned that tuna is a good, easy way to get lots of protein and omega 3 fatty acids. That’s almost true! What is also true is that too many people eat tuna every day, or several days a week. In other words they do not limit their consumption according to the EPA/FDA advice!


The EPA/FDA advice is up to 12 ounces a week for chunk light tuna (the less expensive variety). It should be about 1/3 as much albacore (whole white tuna), and probably even less frequent for fresh tuna steaks, which come from the largest tuna species! The EPA/FDA advice is 6 oz/week for albacore, but the levels are nearly 3 times as high as what is found in chunk light tuna.


You already have the websites for the EPA/FDA advice and the Brainfood article.


I think the Brainfood article provides a lot more data than the FDA site. They gathered available data on a lot more species of fish and found some of the ones, for which the FDA had no data, were of concern. Some of the fish they list are there because the larger, older specimans have high levels.


If you wanted to be extra safe, you could limit your fish consumption to:



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