Sushi and Mercury Levels

Most women who are pregnant or wishing to become pregnant have heard the warnings about eating sushi due to the risk of certain bacteria and increased exposure to mercury. But women also need to remember that not all sushi is uncooked, and most fish contain essential nutrients and vitamins needed for growth and development of their baby. Eating fish that is cooked can help reduce the risk of exposure to certain bacteria. Eating fish that is not on the “high” mercury list is also a way to eat fish safely. There are 4 types of fish that pregnant women should avoid.

The NRDC has compiled a list of fish used in sushi and their levels of mercury. Many of the main sushi type fish contain high levels of mercury and should be completely avoided. If you have further questions regarding sushi, you should talk with your health care provider to get their recommendation.

Highest mercury

AVOID

Kajiki (swordfish)

Saba (mackerel)

Shark

Tilefish

High Mercury

Eat no more than three 6-oz servings a month

Ahi (yellowfin tuna)
Buri (adult yellowtail)
Hamachi (young yellowtail)
Inada (very young yellowtail)
Kanpachi (very young yellowtail)
Katsuo (bonito)
Maguro (bigeye, bluefin or yellowfin tuna)
Makjiki (blue marlin)
Masu (trout)
Meji (young bigeye, bluefin* or yellowfin tuna)
Shiro (albacore tuna)
Toro (bigeye, bluefin or yellowfin tuna)

LOWER MERCURY

Eat no more than six 6-oz servings per month

Kani (crab)
Seigo (young sea bass)*
Suzuki (sea bass)*

LOWEST MERCURY

Enjoy two 6-oz servings a week

Aji (horse mackerel)
Akagai (ark shell)
Anago (conger eel)
Aoyagi (round clam)
Awabi (abalone)
Ayu (sweetfish)
Ebi (shrimp)
Hamaguri (clam)
Hamo (pike conger; sea eel)
Hatahata (sandfish)
Himo (ark shell)
Hokkigai (surf clam)
Hotategai (scallop)
Ika (squid)
Ikura (salmon roe)
Kaibashira (shellfish)
Kaiware (daikon-radish sprouts)
Karei (flatfish)
Kohada (gizzard shad)
Masago (smelt egg)
Mirugai (surf clam)
Nori-tama (egg)
Sake (salmon)
Sawara (spanish mackerel)
Sayori (halfbeak)
Shako (mantis shrimp)
Tai (sea bream)
Tairagai (razor-shell clam)
Tako (octopus)
Tamago (egg) Tobikko (flying fish egg)
Torigai (cockle)
Tsubugai (shellfish)
Unagi (freshwater eel)
Uni (sea urchin roe)

Chart obtained from the Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC); data obtained by the FDA and the EPA.

Last Updated: 09/2008

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