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I need to eat more fish, but I don't know how or where to get fresh fish or what I should look for to make sure it's fresh. What are some of your favorite ways to cook fish?

You are so very right. We all need to eat more fresh fish!! We have all seen the media information about how adding just two servings of fish each week can help our health.

In the St. Louis area, we have two excellent seafood vendors: Bob's Seafood in University City (6655 Delmar Boulevard, 314.725.4844) and Whole Foods Market on Brentwood Boulevard just south of the Galleria in Brentwood Square (1601 S. Brentwood Boulevard, 314.968.7744).

When checking for freshness, always use your nose first. There should be no smell at all. Fresh fish will have a clean, almost nonexistent aroma. The next is the firmness of the flesh — when you touch the flesh, it must bounce back immediately. One advantage of using the seafood dealers I mentioned is that they take the guesswork out of this; they will not sell you a bad product.

When it comes to cooking, my favorite way to keep the calories low and the flavor high is grilling. Keep in mind that some fish is better suited for grilling than others. Great grilling fish include tuna, salmon, halibut, swordfish and all other firm-fleshed fish. You can always get free recipe cards and advice on cooking from your seafood stores. And both of the stores I mentioned are awesome!

Nearly all fish and shellfish, however, contain traces of mercury. For most, the risk from mercury by eating fish and shellfish is not a health concern. Yet, some fish and shellfish contain higher levels of mercury that may harm an unborn baby or young child's developing nervous system. The risks from mercury in fish and shellfish depend upon the amount eaten and the levels of mercury in that fish and shellfish. Therefore, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are advising women who may become pregnant, pregnant women, nursing mothers and young children to avoid some types of fish and shellfish that are higher in mercury.

By following these recommendations for selecting and eating fish and shellfish, women and young children will receive the benefits of eating fish and shellfish and be confident that they have reduced their exposure to the harmful effects of mercury.

High-risk populations should eat no more than two or three meals, 12 ounces total, of low-mercury fish and shellfish a week. If you're in a high-risk population, don't eat the skin and fatty parts of fish, where pollutants collect.

The BEST fish to eat are those that are:

  • Low in mercury
  • Not over-fished or farmed destructively

Shrimp, salmon, tuna, tilapia, trout and abalone are all great, safe fish to eat. Other great options include herring, flounder and lobster. The Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency both recommend limiting fish consumption by category, not by individual species. For example, both cod and mahi mahi are moderate-mercury fish, and only one type from this category should be eaten per month — not one meal of cod and one of mahi mahi.

Critical points here are to be aware of your fish vendor (and the origination of the fish) and if you have any fish allergies. For ideas on more ocean-friendly seafood to consume, go to the EDF Seafood Selector guide or the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch.

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