Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Super Green List

Connecting Human and Ocean Health
Seafood plays an important role in a balanced diet. It's often rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which help boost immunity and reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer and other ailments. Omega-3s are especially important for pregnant and nursing women, and young children. Unfortunately, some fish carry toxins that can become harmful when eaten frequently.

Good for You, Good for the Oceans

Combining the work of conservation and public health organizations, the Monterey Bay Aquarium has identified seafood that is "Super Green," meaning that it is good for human health and does not harm the oceans. The Super Green list highlights products that are currently on the Seafood Watch "Best Choices" (green) list, are low in environmental contaminants and are good sources of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids.

This effort draws from experts in human health, notably scientists from the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and Environmental Defense Fund (EDF). The Monterey Bay Aquarium will continue to work with these organizations to balance the health and environmental attributes of seafood.

The Super Green list includes seafood that meets the following three criteria:
  • Low levels of contaminants (below 216 parts per billion [ppb] mercury and 11 ppb PCBs)
  • The daily minimum of omega-3s (at least 250 milligrams per day [mg/d])*
  • Classified as a Seafood Watch "Best Choice" (green)

Contaminants in Seafood

Seafood contaminants include metals (such as mercury, which affects brain function and development), industrial chemicals (PCBs and dioxins) and pesticides (DDT). These toxins usually originate on land and make their way into the smallest plants and animals at the base of the ocean food web. As smaller species are eaten by larger ones, contaminants are concentrated and accumulated. Large predatory fish—like swordfish and shark—end up with the most toxins. You can minimize risks by choosing seafood carefully. Use our Super Green list and learn more about contaminants in seafood on the EDF website.
*The Best of the Best: January 2010
  • Albacore Tuna (troll- or pole-caught, from the U.S. or British Columbia)
  • Freshwater Coho Salmon (farmed in tank systems, from the U.S.)
  • Mussels (farmed)
  • Oysters (farmed)
  • Pacific Sardines (wild-caught)
  • Pink Shrimp (wild-caught, from Oregon)
  • Rainbow Trout (farmed)
  • Salmon (wild-caught, from Alaska)
  • Spot Prawns (wild-caught, from British Columbia)

**Other Healthy "Best Choices"
  • Arctic Char (farmed)
  • Bay Scallops (farmed)
  • Crayfish (farmed, from the U.S.)
  • Dungeness Crab (wild-caught, from California, Oregon or Washington)
  • Longfin Squid (wild-caught, from the U.S. Atlantic)
  • Pacific Cod (longline-caught, from Alaska)

*The "Super Green" list is based on dietary requirements for an average woman of childbearing age (18- 45, 154 pounds) eating 8 ounces of fish per week. The list also applies to men and children; children should eat age-appropriate portions to maximize their health benefits while minimizing risk. The recommendation of 250 mg of omega-3s refers to the combined level of two omega-3s of primary importance to human health: eicosapentanoic acid (EPA) and docosahexanoic acid (DHA).

**Other Healthy "Best Choices" are low in contaminants and provide a smaller amount of omega-3s (between 100 and 250 mg/d, assuming 8 ounces of fish per week)

Contaminant data are from EDF, drawn from more than 250 government databases and peer-reviewed scientific studies on seafood contaminants.

Omega-3 data are primarily from the USDA Nutrient Database.

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