Whether you’re on a budget or just trying to pack more protein into your diet, tuna may be a food of choice for you, but a new study shows too much canned tuna could be dangerous.
The study, done by the University of California, Santa Cruz, found people who are eating more than three servings of tuna a week might be exposing themselves to dangerous amounts of mercury, a toxic metal that can cause serious health problems.
Researchers surveyed college students on their tuna consumption habits and then measured the mercury levels in their hair samples.
Researchers reported the mercury levels they measured closely correlated with how much tuna the students ate, and some of their measurements were above a “level of concern.”
"It doesn't necessarily mean that they would be experiencing toxic effects, but it's a level at which it's recommended to try to lower your mercury exposure," said Myra Finkelstein, an associate adjunct professor of environmental toxicology at UC Santa Cruz.
She said she began the study after hearing how much tuna some students were eating.
"I've been dumbfounded when students have told me they eat tuna every day," Finkelstein said. "Their lack of knowledge about the risk of exposure to mercury is surprising."
But there are plenty of fish that contain mercury.
So what exactly is the risk of mercury exposure?
There are many fish, including tuna, which have significant amounts of the most toxic form of mercury — methylmercury. Too much of the toxin can cause neurological damage, and that’s of utmost concern to pregnant women and children, but also to college students, who are still in their reproductive age and whose nervous systems are still developing.
The Federal Department of Agriculture released dietary guidelines for Americans when it comes to fish consumption. See above.
Adults should eat no more than two to three servings a week of fish from the “Best choices” list or one serving from the “Good choices” list. One serving for an adult is 4 ounces, which is about the size of your palm.
Children should not eat more than 1 ounce at age 2, going up to 4 ounces by age 11.
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