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The Serving Size for Fish

by
author image Bridget Coila
Bridget Coila specializes in health, nutrition, pregnancy, pet and parenting topics. Her articles have appeared in Oxygen, American Fitness and on various websites. Coila has a Bachelor of Science in cell and molecular biology from the University of Cincinnati and more than 10 years of medical research experience.
The Serving Size for Fish
Fresh salmon on ice Photo Credit Jupiterimages/liquidlibrary/Getty Images

Fish is promoted for its beneficial effects on the heart, joints and brain, but the amount in a single serving can sometimes be confusing. Different organizations have differing definitions for the size of a serving, but the general recommendations of how much you should eat over the course of a week are fairly well-established. Your own health conditions can impact how much fish you should consume, so keep this in mind when calculating your own ideal serving size.

Typical Serving Size

A typical serving size of fish can range from 3 to 6 oz, depending on the type of fish and its preparation. The American Heart Association considers 3.5 oz. of cooked fish, or about 3/4 cup, to be a single serving. A can of tuna contains about 5 oz. and lists 2 oz., or 1/4 cup, as an appropriate single serving size on the nutrition label. The American Dietetic Association food exchange lists calculate using 1 oz. servings of fish. Many restaurants and home cooks serve more than one serving's worth in a single meal. To estimate a single serving without weighing or measuring it, 3 oz of fish is generally about the size of a woman's palm.

Nutritional Calculations

One oz. of fish contains approximately 35 calories and 1 g of fat, placing it into the category of a very lean protein, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. A 3 oz serving of fish can have between 0.1 and 1.9 g of heart-healthy omega-3 fats, with Atlantic salmon, blue fin tuna and sardines topping the list.

Serving Limits

The American Heart Association recommends eating about two servings of fish per week, 6 or 7 oz. of fish, to reap the benefits of high levels of omega-3 fats. Most people should try to keep fish consumption under 12 oz. per week, or about three to four servings, to avoid mercury contamination. A single serving of shark, swordfish, tilefish, and king mackerel has unhealthy levels of mercury, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Pregnant women, lactating mothers and young children should avoid consuming even a small amount of these fish and limit their two weekly servings to low-mercury fish such as salmon, catfish, pollock and canned light tuna.

Considerations

Some people should get extra servings of fish each week. People with heart disease should aim to get 1 g or more of the fish-derived omega-3 fats EPA and DHA every day, and people with high triglycerides might need as much as 4 g per day, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Individuals who want to get the benefits of fish but eat fewer than the recommended servings per week might consider taking a fish oil supplement.

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