FunWhat are the fish that accumulate the most toxic...

What are the fish that accumulate the most toxic metals such as mercury or lead?

Mercury, cadmium or lead are some of the most persistent toxic metals in the food chain, which can pose a health risk to those who eat animals that accumulate them. A study carried out by researchers from the University of Granada (UGR) and published in 2014 verified which fish and shellfish accumulate these substances the most.

To find out, the researchers analyzed 485 samples of 43 different species , of which 25 were fresh fish, 12 were canned fish and 6 were frozen fish. Of the species analyzed, 18 percent came from fishing grounds in Andalusia; 42 percent, from the rest of Spain; 10 percent, from Europe, and 30 percent from the rest of the world (since species such as panga, perch or frozen squid that we consume came from countries such as Vietnam, Tanzania or Argentina, respectively).

Values, in general, below the maximum permitted limits

The analysis verified that the average concentration of mercury, cadmium, lead, tin and arsenic (the most toxic metals, according to the Spanish Agency for Food Safety and Nutrition) found in the analyzed species were below the limits admitted by the European Authority for Food Safety (EFSA). In fact, only 6 of the 485 samples analyzed (1.24%) exceeded the maximum allowed limits, while in 174 (36%) the levels of toxic metals were even lower than detectable values.

Ultimately, scientists observed that dogfish, swordfish, mussels and cockles are the species of fish and shellfish that accumulate the highest amount of toxic metals, such as mercury and lead. On the contrary, pangasius (traditionally considered one of the most contaminated species) and frozen cod are the two safest types of fish to be consumed.

Food safety

Regarding food safety, the main author of this research, Professor of Toxicology at the UGR Fernando Gil Hernández, recommends, especially to pregnant women and children, “diversify the consumption of fish and shellfish, and not restrict the consumption of any specific species ”. Likewise, Gil points out that it is very important “to take into account the presence of selenium, an antioxidant that prevents cardiovascular diseases, and which is present in salmon and sardines, which makes them two highly recommended species for consumption”, by containing a very low amount of mercury and a remarkable proportion of omega 3 fatty acids whose beneficial effects on the body have been demonstrated on multiple occasions. In short, the advantages of eating fish outweigh the disadvantages and the key is to diversify.

This is a very extensive study that analyzes the levels of toxic metals in shellfish and fish, and the only one carried out in Andalusia. Their conclusions were published in the specialized journal Environment International . And, if you are interested in this topic, we recommend you read this article with the updated guidelines for the consumption of fish in relation to mercury.

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