Mercury Concerns vs. Omega-3s: What Fish Are Best to Feature on the Office Catering Table?

Posted by on Monday, February 17th, 2014 with Comments Off on Mercury Concerns vs. Omega-3s: What Fish Are Best to Feature on the Office Catering Table? Comments

We’ve all heard it before: you should eat more fish! Fish is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, and it’s part of the popular Mediterranean diet, and you should definitely eat less red meat. Fish is so healthy!

But, we’ve also heard this: children, pregnant women, and the elderly should be careful about eating fish. Many species of fish have been contaminated with unhealthy levels of mercury, and it can be toxic if you eat a large amount of seafood. Plus, some kinds of fish are being raised or caught in ways that are terrible for the environment. How can you stay informed about which fish to avoid and which is okay to consume?

staff seafood buffet

Heart-healthy seafood should have a place on the office catering table.
Image source: flickr user Old Shoe Woman

The government-issued guidelines about how much and what kind of fish to eat are, to put it mildly, occasionally confusing. The conflicting information doesn’t just affect grocery shoppers or sushi eaters: in the workplace, it’s tough for employers who are trying to encourage healthy eating as part of a company wellness plan… especially since fish is often served as the default “healthy alternative” at conferences and catered lunches. The confusion around smart seafood choices also makes it difficult for companies that value sustainability to know which options are the best for the environment, and which they should avoid including on the office catering table.

What’s more, some of Americans’ favorite seafood choices — popular items like shrimp, canned tuna, and tilapia — aren’t actually very good sources of the omega-3 fatty acids that have been linked to reducing blood pressure and improving heart health… the very reason fish is extolled as so good for us in the first place.

Platter of salmon and bagel toppings

Perennial catering favorite salmon is high in omega-3s and low in mercury.
Image source: flickr user bensheldon

So which seafood choices are the best ones for the corporate catering table or staff meals? And which kinds of fish should offices with pregnant employees or sustainability commitments avoid? A recent report by the Environmental Working Group, a health and sustainability advocacy organization, attempts to find the best of both worlds: the fish that are highest in omega-3 fatty acids, lowest in mercury levels, and not detrimental to the environment. They recommend:

Say yes to salmon.This popular catering choice deserves its place on the lunch table. Rich in omega-3 fatty acids and low in mercury, choose wild Alaskan salmon over farm-raised Atlantic for the best combination of nutrients and sustainability.

Think small. Sardines and anchovies are both high in omega-3s and low in mercury. In fact, the bigger and longer-living a fish (like swordfish or sea bass), the higher the likely levels of mercury. Include real Caesar salads, complete with anchovy dressings, in the office lunch routine for a healthy dose of omega-3’s.

Caesar salad with anchovies

Smaller fish like anchovies generally have lower mercury levels.
Image source: flickr user adactio

When it comes to trout, go for farmed. While most fish fans think that wild-caught is always better than farmed, that’s not necessarily the case when it comes to trout. Especially in the Great Lakes, overfishing has left wild trout populations pretty decimated. Farm-raised trout are, for the time being, the more sustainable choice; trout’s also rich in omega-3 fatty acids and perfectly safe for pregnant women to enjoy up to twice a week.

Fish guidelines may be murky at times, but you can still choose smarter seafood for office catering events. Whatever the occasion, can help supply your staff with the kind of healthy, wholesome meals that will keep your office swimming in productivity!

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