Why You Shouldn’t Worry About Mercury In Fish (And A Recipe For Pecan Crusted Grouper)

on September 20 | in Recipes | by | with 30 Comments

Does The Thought Of Going Grain-Free . . .

Make you woozy? Do you wake up and think “man, I need to make some changes” and then go “ohhhh, waffles!

I can relate. No seriously, the day Daddypotamus came home and told me he wanted to start GAPS was the actual day we started and, um, I can’t say I didn’t sneak into the garage to indulge in a few GAPS “illegal” foods from time to time. Nursing mamas can’t go hungry just because they don’t know how to cook by the new “rules,” you know?

Fortunately a friend helped me get the hang of things and life was humming again soon. We found fresh versions of old favorite dishes, made some surprising culinary discoveries, and best of all felt better.

Did I tell you we felt better?

Oh yes, all of us. Now that we’ve incorporated grains back into our diet we still feel great – the journey was totally worth it!

Are You Ready To Give Grain-Free A Try?

Great! This pecan crusted grouper from my friend Dr. Jill’s new class, Go Grain Free, has a mild, flaky center rolled in a crunchy crust sprinkled with salt – yummo!

Oh, what’s that? You’re worried about eating fish because the media says fish are loaded with mercury, toxic PCB’s and dioxins? I get that.

The thing is, they’re flat out wrong. As it turns out, most fish contain levels of selenium that are higher than whatever mercury they contain. When this is the case the selenium binds with mercury and prevents absorption, leaving us with all the health benefits and yummy goodness of pan-fried, seared, blackened and broiled FISH!

Oh and those PCB’s and dioxins? According to Chris Kresser:

While it makes perfect sense to try to avoid these toxins to the greatest extent possible, abstaining from fish isn’t a particularly good strategy.

The highest dietary sources of PCBs and dioxins are not fish, but beef, chicken and pork (34%), dairy products (30%) and vegetables (22%). Fish constitute only 9% of our dietary intake of these chemicals.

There are exceptions, of course. Certain fish and seafood – like pilot whale, tarpon, marlin, swordfish and some shark – are naturally low in selenium but contain moderate amounts of mercury. Freshwater fish from contaminated inland sources can also contain high levels of PCB’s and dioxins (thanks Monsanto!). On the whole, though, eating fish is actually safer than not eating it! (Update: Please read the comments for possible regions to avoid)

Now, About That Recipe . . .

Grouper just so happens to be rich in selenium, yay! If you’ve been on the fence about going grain-free give this recipe a try – it just may be a new favorite!

Bon appetit, ya’ll!

Pecan Crusted Grouper

 Ingredients

  • 2 fillets of fresh wild grouper or similar fish  (approximately 1/2 pound each)
  • 1 egg (pastured if possible)
  • 1/2 – ¾ cup crushed crispy pecans
  • 2 tablespoons tallow from pastured cows
  • unrefined sea salt and pepper to taste (where to find unrefined sea salt)
  • Fat for frying – tallow, lard, or palm shortening

 Equipment

  • Large fry pan

Instructions

  1. Measure one cup of crispy pecans
  2. Using a small processor or coffee grinder process the nuts until they are ground fine and spread them out evenly on a large plate
  3. Scramble the egg in a shallow soup bowl and mix in the salt and pepper (and any other seasonings you may like)
  4. Dip the fillets in the scrambled egg, being sure to cover the entire piece on both sides
  5. Dredge the fillets in the crushed pecans until thoroughly coated
  6. Heat the tallow in a large frying pan
  7. Place the fillets in the pan and fry on medium heat on each side until browned and cooked through (approximately 5 – 6 minutes each side, depending upon the thickness)
  8. Serve immediately

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Easy

Click Here To Learn More About The Go Grain-Free eCourse!

This post is shared at Fight Back Friday

 

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30 Responses to Why You Shouldn’t Worry About Mercury In Fish (And A Recipe For Pecan Crusted Grouper)

  1. Leah says:

    We LOVE fish at this house. We moved from walking distance to the beach in Southern Gulf coast of Fl to the NC TN border and miss fresh seafood dearly! My fear these days is not mercury its the Gulf oil spill and Fukushima.

    • Heather says:

      Good points, Leah! The place I buy dried anchovies harvests in Japan – nothing they sell has any detectable levels of radiation, and even many species right on the coast of Fukushima don’t either. Some do, of course, and honestly I avoid buying from things caught there for that reason. Same thing with the Gulf Coast for me – I think the “all clear” was sounded far too early but I’m still comfortable consuming seafood outside of that zone. Nothing’s perfect thanks to industrial practices everywhere, but fish are so incredibly beneficial to our health and carry such minimal risk relative to everything else we eat!

      Of course, anyone that is super-concerned can eat smaller fish like anchovies and sardines, which accumulate almost no toxins before they are caught! So glad you commented, Leah!

  2. So glad you think so, Creative Christian Mama! I can’t believe all the years I avoided fish because I thought it was too contaminated – I LOVE seafood!

  3. Sara Creitz Rockarts via FB says:

    Also, cilantro rids your body of heavy metal toxins. I think the dosage was a handful a day for 10 days. Or something like that.

  4. As a former marine biology major with a emphasis in sustainability (Monsanto has a heavy hand in the fishing industry, have I ever mentioned how much I want to take them down?) can one of your next posts be on sustainability please? Monterey Bay Aquarium has a seafood watch program, but if you need any additional notes please let me know :)

  5. Jill Reznick-Hill via FB says:

    Wow! I’ll have to read this. I’ve been avoiding fish since I was pregnant and now because I’m still nursing. Thanks for this. ;-)

  6. Brianna Crow – I will put it on the calender!

  7. AnnMarie Deis says:

    I live in Michigan and we have the Great Lakes which have TONS of fish. Is this a region I should avoid? Just curious. I am so glad that you posted this because I have been so fearful of eating fish for the mercury. Oh, yeah, and I don’t like the taste of fish. :) I’m working on it. It’s getting there, slowly, but it’s getting there. The good news, though, is that my five-year-son LOVES fish!!!!! YAY! Thanks for your beautiful posts.

    • Heather says:

      Hi AnnMarie! I’m not really sure about what the pollution levels are like in the Great Lakes, but in general it seems that ocean caught fish are higher in seleniu. Hope that helps!

  8. Chelsea says:

    Does this mean when I crave tuna when I’m pregnant I can eat it more often than the recommended once a week? :)

  9. Leah says:

    I was so inspired we had fish for lunch. I think we have decided to grow our own fish next year. We grow everything it seems. Chickens, turkeys, piggies, now a cow, and meal worms for the chickens. Plus 99% of our fruit and veggies. Now I want to add fish since they can be used to fertilize duckweed for the birds as well. Till then we’ve been getting a lot of fish from the Atlantic and just thinking about the Gulf and Fukushima. So many issues. I’ll have to try my lil ones on sardines and anchovies. They LOVE LOVE LOVE grouper, salmon, cod pretty much everything.

  10. desiree says:

    Rejoice! I’ve been avoiding regular fish for a while now! Thanks!

  11. Lori says:

    Wow, I’m SO happy to hear about this!! I was worried about fish because I’m nursing, but no longer! And that recipe looks delicious! One question: where do you get tallow?

  12. K says:

    What about mercury in vaccines? Do you think the effects can be offset from selenium intake?

    • Heather says:

      I don’t think so. Mercury that enters the digestive tract has the opportunity to bind with selenium and be flushed out of the body. Mercury introduced via vaccines enters directly into the bloodstream where it can then travel to all the major organs. Considering the fact that it has an affinity for testosterone the organ most likely affected in little boys is the brain.

  13. Hi Heather,

    I wanted to thank you for this post, and for talking about mercury in a context that is scientifically accurate. Recent reports that provide “recommendations” that are not based on any peer reviewed scientific studies really do more harm than good. Reporting only on the trace amounts of mercury found in fish and ignoring the multitude of studies showing the benefits of eating tuna —and the harm that comes when people don’t eat enough seafood— scares people away from an inherently healthy food.

    The USDA states, “A well-balanced diet that includes a variety of fish and shellfish can contribute to heart health and children’s proper growth and development. So, women and young children in particular should include fish or shellfish in their diets due to the many nutritional benefits.”

    It’s great to see someone who accurately looks at fish as a whole product, and who didn’t join the bandwagon of misinformation designed to scare mothers and children away from fish.

    Thank you again.

    Lynsee Fowler
    Communication Coordinator
    National Fisheries Institute

  14. Erin says:

    So what are your thoughts on farmed salmon and shrimp if the wild caught stuff is totally unaffordable? I know it’s not the most Eco-friendly, but from a health perspective….

    • Heather says:

      They are often fed GMO corn and soy in addition to lots of PCB exposure, etc. I would pass and go for more affordable, sustainably caught and low-contaminant fish like anchovies and sardines :)

  15. Peg says:

    So where in Michigan is it posible to buy anchovies or sardines outside of a can? I can’t find herring either. Frustrating! The link to dried sardines didn’t work for me. Are their other dried sources by mail?

    • Heather says:

      If you have a Whole Foods nearby they probably carry Crown Prince anchovies in glass containers. I’m not sure if the lids have BPA but I personally think the benefits outweigh the risks for such a nutrient-dense food. If you can’t find them at the health food store you an always order them on Amazon!

      • Peg says:

        Thanks for the suggestion. We don’t have a Whole Foods near by. And I haven’t seen the anchovies at our health food store though there are a few items in BPA free cans. (Not sure I trust what they substituted!). I’ll try Amazon.

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  18. Becky says:

    This gives me a reason to eat some fish!!! :)

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