Go Fish! The Scoop on Mercury and Why Fish is a Good Choice

I love eating fish. Of course you probably wouldn’t know that given all the flack I took  for pulling Jeremy Piven from his smash hit David Mamet Broadway play “Speed the Plow”. Piven was under my care for fatigue and difficulty concentrating. Blood work revealed toxic levels of mercury in his system. The mercury was probably due to his penchant for large volumes of sushi. Piven enjoyed sushi twice a day for many, many years. 

So what’s the moral of this story? Thanks to the way modern industry has polluted our ocean environment, we have to be careful how much fish we consume. Fresh fish is extremely healthy, but in modern times we have to watch that we don’t overdo it.

In my days of competitive bodybuilding, I recall consuming as many as three cans of tuna a day. Things are different now. As a result of toxic pollutants in our oceans, our fish have suffered by taking on these toxins. When we eat the fish, we eat the toxins. So even though I love fish and still want the health benefits of including fish in my diet, I generally don’t eat fish more than a few times per week.

I choose fish like tuna steak, salmon, sole, and river trout because they tend to have lower levels of heavy metals. Snapper, monkfish, and whitefish also contain negligible mercury levels, as do crab, scallop, and squid.

Swordfish broiled with butter is a long-time favorite of mine, but I now enjoy this only a couple of times a year. This is because larger and older predatory fish higher in the food chain tend to harbor the most heavy metals. Armed with that wisdom, choose your fish, and let’s get started.

Fish is often high in the healthy omega fats that our bodies desperately need to help control our cholesterol and reduce our risk for health problems down the line. And preparing fish is so simple. Remember that fish cooks very fast and the worst thing you can do is overcook fish. If anything, stop the cooking process a bit on the early side (remember, people eat sashimi, and that’s raw!). Fish can be baked, broiled, or fried.

My secret for creating amazing flavor: I marinate my fish before cooking for a few hours. Here are some simple sauces for marinating and basting your fish:

  • Fresh Lemon or Lime Juice: That’s it!
  • Seasoned Lemon Baste: Combine lemon juice with a dash or two of white wine or vermouth, soy sauce, and/or seasonings of your choice such as dill, mustard, pepper, rosemary or thyme.
  • Italian-Style Marinade: Marinate fish for 30 minutes in Italian salad dressing and then broil.
  • Honey-Curry Baste or Marinade: Marinate fish for 15 to 30 minutes, turning occasionally in a marinade containing 1/2 cup soy sauce, 2 tsp oil, 1 Tb sugar, 2 tsp lemon juice, ½ to 1 tsp ground ginger, ½ to 1 tsp minced garlic and 2 Tb sherry.  This makes enough for 1 to 2 pounds of fish.
  • Garlic-Rosemary Marinade:  Mix 2 tsp olive oil, ¼ cup fresh lemon juice, 2 cloves of minced garlic, 1 Tbs minced parsley and 1-1/2 Tbs fresh rosemary sprigs. Pour over 1 pound of halibut, swordfish or other fish steaks.  Marinate for 35 to 40 minutes and broil or grill.

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