Fish is an incredibly great source of protein, and contains DHA, an omega-3 that helps brain development, especially important to small children.
So why are we worried about kids eating fish? Health Canada says that children ages 1 to 4 shouldn’t consume more than 75 grams of fish per month. That’s about the size of a chequebook. Older children (between ages five and 11) can eat up to 125 grams per month, or roughly a chequebook and another half-chequebook.
Why? Because of the risks of mercury or toxins, which pregnant women and children should avoid.
Most moms will tell you: it’s not easy to get kids to eat fish in the first place, so if there are health risks, why bother trying? Well, truth is, there are a lot of fish that are high in omega-3 fat and low in mercury, and study after study, we learn that fish is good for heart health and proves to be a factor for longevity.
Omega-3 fatty acids
A recent study of more than 2,600 older adults found those with the highest blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids — found in salmon, mackerel, herring, and lake trout lived more than two years longer on average than those with lower blood levels.
Fish contains hard-to-find omega-3 fats, which are important for the development of the brain, eyes and nerves in children. Omega-3 fats also protect heart health, which is important now and for the future.
While the benefits of eating fish far outweigh the risks, it’s important to know what fish to eat, as consuming too much mercury can have side effects.
Fish and Mercury
Shark, swordfish, escolar, marlin, orange roughy and fresh or frozen tuna are high in mercury.
Fish low in mercury and high in omega-3’s include char, herring, salmon and sardines. Other fish low in mercury include tilapia, pollock, sole and haddock. If your kids like tuna sandwiches, make sure you opt for skipjack tuna instead of albacore tuna. It’s much lower in mercury, but if you’re worried, see if you can turn them on to pollock or salmon sandwiches. Choose wild salmon instead of farmed and remove the fat and skin before cooking since toxins gather in fatty tissues.