Mercury Levels in Sushi

Mercury Levels in Sushi

Most women who are pregnant or wishing to become pregnant have heard the warnings about eating sushi. There are risks to pregnant women due to certain bacteria and increased exposure to mercury.

But, women also need to remember that not all sushi is uncooked, and most fish contain essential nutrients and vitamins needed for growth and development of their baby. Eating fish that is cooked can help reduce the risk of exposure to certain bacteria. Eating fish that is not on the “high” mercury list is also a way to eat fish safely.

The NRDC has compiled a list of fish used in sushi and where they rank in their levels of mercury. Many of the main sushi type fish contain high levels of mercury and should be completely avoided or eaten very rarely. If you have further questions regarding sushi, you should talk with your health care provider to get their recommendation.

High Mercury Levels in Sushi

Avoid the following sushi while pregnant:

  • Ahi (yellowfin tuna)
  • Aji (horse mackerel)
  • Buri (adult yellowtail)
  • Hamachi (young yellowtail)
  • Inada (very young yellowtail)
  • Kanpachi (very young yellowtail)
  • Katsuo (bonito)
  • Kajiki (swordfish)
  • Maguro (bigeye, bluefin or yellowfin tuna)
  • Makjiki (blue marlin)
  • Meji (young bigeye, bluefin* or yellowfin tuna)
  • Saba (mackerel)
  • Sawara (spanish mackerel)
  • Shiro (albacore tuna)
  • Seigo (young sea bass)*
  • Suzuki (sea bass)*
  • Toro (bigeye, bluefin or yellowfin tuna)

Lowest Mercury Levels in Sushi

Enjoy up to two 6-oz servings a week:

  • Akagai (ark shell)
  • Anago (conger eel)
  • Aoyagi (round clam)
  • Awabi (abalone)
  • Ayu (sweetfish)
  • Ebi (shrimp)
  • Hamaguri (clam)
  • Hamo (pike conger; sea eel)
  • Hatahata (sandfish)
  • Himo (ark shell)
  • Hokkigai (surf clam)
  • Hotategai (scallop)
  • Ika (squid)
  • Ikura (salmon roe)
  • Kaibashira (shellfish)
  • Kani (crab)
  • Karei (flatfish)
  • Kohada (gizzard shad)
  • Masago (smelt egg)
  • Masu (trout)
  • Mirugai (surf clam)
  • Sake (salmon)
  • Sayori (halfbeak)
  • Shako (mantis shrimp)
  • Tai (sea bream)
  • Tairagai (razor-shell clam)
  • Tako (octopus)
  • Tobikko (flying fish egg)
  • Torigai (cockle)
  • Tsubugai (shellfish)
  • Unagi (freshwater eel)
  • Uni (sea urchin roe)

About the Mercury level categories:

The categories on the list are determined according to the following mercury levels in the flesh of the tested fish.

  • Lower Mercury: Less than 0.29 parts per million
  • High Mercury: More than 0.3 parts per million

List obtained from the Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC) from data obtained by the FDA and the EPA.

Last Updated: 1/2013