Posts for category: Nutrition
FDA Updates Advice on Eating Fish for Pregnant Women, Children
Megan Brooks, July 03, 2019
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has updated advice on fish consumption for women who are pregnant or may become pregnant, breastfeeding mothers, and young children, putting more focus on the health benefits of seafood.
"Fish and shellfish are an important part of a well-rounded diet. However, we know many parents worry about mercury in fish and even choose to limit or avoid fish because of this concern. In fact, women in the US who are pregnant are consuming far less than the recommended amount of seafood," Susan Mayne, PhD, director of the FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, said in a news release.
"Our goal is to make sure Americans are equipped with this knowledge so that they can reap the benefits of eating fish, while choosing types of fish that are safe for them and their families to eat," said Mayne.
In January 2017, the FDA and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a reference chart to help consumers more easily understand the types of fish to eat more or less of, based on their mercury levels.
The information in the chart remains the same. However, the revised advice issued July 2 expands information regarding the benefits of fish as part of a healthy diet by promoting the science-based recommendations of the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The advice pertains to people aged 2 and older.
"While it is important to limit mercury in the diets of women who are pregnant or breastfeeding and young children, many types of fish are both nutritious and lower in mercury," the FDA said in the update.
"The revised advice highlights the many nutritional components in fish, many of which have important roles in growth and development during pregnancy and early childhood. It also highlights the potential health benefits of eating fish as part of a healthy eating pattern, particularly for heart health benefits and lowering the risk of obesity," the FDA said.
Fish provides protein; healthy omega-3 fats; more vitamin B12 and vitamin D than any other type of food; iron, which is important for infants, young children, and women who are pregnant or who could become pregnant; and other minerals such as selenium, zinc, and iodine, the FDA notes.
Last month, the FDA announced it would allow certain "qualified" health claims stating that consuming eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic (DHA) omega-3 fatty acids in food or dietary supplements may reduce the risk of hypertension and coronary heart disease.
The FDA continues to recommend that adults eat at least 8 ounces of seafood per week based on a 2000 calorie diet.
For an adult, one serving is 4 ounces (about the size and thickness of an adult's palm). Adults should eat two to three servings a week from the "Best Choices" list (or one serving from the "Good Choices" list). For children, one serving is 1 ounce at age 2 and increases with age to 4 ounces by age 11.
Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should consume between 8 and 12 ounces of a variety of seafood per week from choices that are lower in mercury.
The 36 types of seafood on the best choices list include salmon, shrimp, pollock, canned light tuna, tilapia, catfish and cod, flounder, haddock, crab, clams, and sole. Nineteen varieties make the good choices list and include bluefish, halibut, mahi mahi, grouper, monkfish, rockfish, snapper, and striped bass (ocean).
The FDA recommends that everyone avoid seven fish that may be high in mercury: king mackerel, marlin, orange roughy, shark, swordfish, tilefish (Gulf of Mexico), and bigeye tuna.
The updated advisory also cautions that some fish caught by family and friends, such as larger carp, catfish, trout, and perch, may contain unknown amounts of mercury or other contaminants. It advises checking local advisories for information on how often it's safe to eat those fish. If there is no advisory, the FDA advises eating only one serving and no other fish that week.
|Also In This Issue|
When do I start giving my baby solid foods?
Lots of parents are excited to start their babies on solid foods. Others are nervous. Starting to eat solid foods (like baby cereal and baby foods, e.g. meats, fruits, veggies, eggs, fish & foul, etc.) is an important part of your baby’s development.
Did you know that babies who start eating solid food too early are more likely to be overweight or obese in childhood and adulthood? This is one more important reason to wait until your baby is really ready before giving him solid foods.
Starting around age 5-6 months, watch for signs that your baby is ready for solid foods.
Pay attention to signs that your 5 to 6 month-old is ready for solid foods. These signs include:
Feed your baby food made for babies.
Simple baby foods, like homemade pureed vegetables, meats, infant cereals, and jarred baby foods, provide the right nutrition for your baby.
Prepared “grown-up” meals and fast foods can cause an allergic reaction and don’t give your growing baby the right nutrition. Also, they often have many more calories than your baby needs.
Remember: Babies don’t need desserts or sweet treats. Skip the baby desserts.
- If you make your own baby food, be aware that spinach, beets, green beans, squash, and carrots contain large amounts of nitrates and are not good choices during early infancy.
Have fun with finger foods!
Let your baby try feeding him/herself as soon as he/she’s ready — usually around 8 or 9 months old. Start giving him/ her foods that baby can easily feed self.
Try very small soft pieces (smaller than a dime) of things like:
You can still feed your baby pureed, mashed, and jarred food, too.
Want more information?
Check out these other tips about starting solid foods:
Starting Solid Foods
Join HealthyChildren.org and leading childhood obesity expert Dr. Sandra G. Hassink for a free informational webinar on what you can do as a parent to help your child achieve and maintain a healthy weight. A question and answer session will follow. Registered participants also have a chance to win a free copy of Dr. Hassink's new book, Achieving a Healthy Weight for Your Child: An Action Plan for Families, published by the American Academy of Pediatrics.