17 Fish You Should Be Very Careful of Eating

Fish are amazing to include in your diet. They give you healthy proteins, vitamins, and nutrients that regulate your blood pressure and reduce your risk of heart attacks. However, in your search for a healthier diet, you’d want to avoid the following 17 fish for both safety and ethical reasons

Grouper

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With grouper fish, mercury once again makes an appearance, making them dangerous for children and pregnant women just like Chilean Sea Bass. However, their population is also very prone to overfishing, so eating them is a lose-lose situation for both us and the species.

Sharks

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Sharks may be meaty, but they’re the last thing you want to eat. As apex predators of the ocean, they have up to three times the mercury limits for edible fish. Disturbingly, Florida International University writes that exposure to this mercury meat may lead to damage to your brain and central nervous system.

Orange Roughy

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The orange roughy fish has two problems: mercury and extinction. Its average lifespan is 200 years, which means it accumulates a lot of unhealthy chemicals like mercury over the years. It also takes up to 40 years before it reproduces, making overconsumption a danger to the species’ extinction.

Mackerel

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Mackerel may be tasty, but you’ll want to be careful about some types of it, especially the King Mackerel and Spanish Mackerel. These sub-species contain dangerously high amounts of mercury, which is especially risky for children, pregnant women, and nursing mothers.

Swordfish

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Swordfish is said to have a sweet taste, with swordfish steak being a favorite dish for many people worldwide. Sadly, like sharks and king mackerels, swordfish also pack an unhealthy load of mercury, and the FDA advises against their consumption. However good it tastes, it’s not worth it.

Tilapia

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You probably see Tilapia in your local supermarket every day, but be warned – consuming it exposes you to arsenic poisoning. Many of them are bred in arsenic-rich environments and are commonly fed feces, so consuming them in large amounts increases your exposure to cancer development… yikes!

Atlantic Salmon

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Excessive, harmful PCBs are used to farm Atlantic salmon, chemicals that expose you to contaminants and diseases. Nutritionists believe that wild Atlantic salmon is fine, but how are you going to reliably differentiate between wild and farmed Atlantic salmon in the store? It’s best to stay off them entirely.

Pufferfish

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Pufferfish are the most poisonous fish in the seven seas. Discover Wildlife investigated them and learned that their ovaries, liver, skin, and muscles all contain tetrodotoxin, a poison that could kill a human within three to six hours. Some chefs in Japan specialize in cooking them ‘safely’, but is it worth the risk?

Basa

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Also called the swai, basa is a species of catfish that is a culinary favorite, but sadly, this makes them staples on overpopulated fish farms. From chemicals to unhealthy amounts of banned antibiotics, factory-farmed basa poses a threat to your health. They also hold low nutritional value, so you’re not missing out.

Chilean Sea Bass

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Chilean sea bass may not be as toxic as others on this list, but they still contain a lot of mercury. Adults shouldn’t consume more than two portions per month, while children should avoid exceeding a single portion. Let’s be honest though–avoiding them entirely would be a weight off your mind.

Eel

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Many seafood enthusiasts are not aware that Eel blood contains a toxic protein that’s proven to cause anaphylaxis, a life-threatening type of allergic reaction. Thankfully, heat and digestion take care of this, and properly cooked eel is generally considered safe to eat—just make sure you trust the chef’s skills!

Lionfish

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Unlike most poisonous fish, lionfish is venomous, meaning it’s only toxic when it stings you, and this poison can be avoided once its spines have been removed. Nonetheless, CNBC shared that FDA scientists still aren’t convinced of their safety, as they have ciguatoxins that could cause ciguatera fish poisoning.

Atlantic Cod

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The Atlantic cod is highly nutritious and has moderately safe amounts of mercury. Bad news, though—this makes it popular and prone to extinction. Unless you don’t care about the species surviving, it’s best to do the little you can to save its population. Pacific cods are great alternatives, and they’re tasty!

Bluefin Tuna

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Bluefin tuna faces a similar issue to Atlantic cod—it’s being overfished for its food benefits, this time due to its large size. Pacific and Southern bluefins are also vulnerable, but the Atlantic bluefins, being the largest of the three, have become endangered.

Atlantic Flatfish

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Certain species of Atlantic flatfish are contaminated with industrial waste and could potentially bring these pollutants to your dishes. A study published by the National Library of Medicine even concluded that they expose you to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), which are a dangerous class of cancer-inducing chemical compounds. Avoid!

Beluga Sturgeon (Caviar)

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If you care about environmental conservation efforts, with the beluga sturgeon, it’s the eggs you shouldn’t eat. Unfortunately, these eggs or ‘caviar’ are a famous global delicacy. Sadly, female beluga sturgeons take up to 20 years to mature, and eggs aren’t laid annually, so fishing for them has caused their population to deplete badly.

Imported Shrimp

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Finally, although they aren’t part of the fish family, shrimp are worth mentioning. Imported shrimp are raised in dirty, overpopulated, and unhygienic fish farms, and are known to bring banned chemicals and even cockroaches to your plate… gross! So, unless you know where the shrimp were caught, we’d give them a miss.

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