- Eating fish regularly is a healthy choice, due to its high levels of Omega-3 fatty acids as well as protein, vitamins, and minerals.
- The US Department of Agriculture and the American Heart Association recommend consuming fish two times a week for the best health benefits.
- However, some types of fish contain more mercury and toxic contaminants than others, and many consumers now shop with sustainable fishing and farming practices in mind.
- Others just plain have more nutritional benefits.
- INSIDER spoke to a registered dietitian nutritionist about the healthiest fish to eat.
- Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more stories.
Eating fish regularly can be a healthy part of your diet, due to its high levels of protein, vitamins, and minerals and the fact that it offers lower amounts of cholesterol and saturated fat than meat.
However, not all fish is created equal (even within the same family), and factors like current farming and fishing practices, mercury content, and sustainability can all play a role in the healthiness of a type of fish.
So, which kinds of fish should you be making a point of incorporating into your diet? INSIDER spoke to registered dietitian nutritionist Amy Gorin, owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition in the New York City area, to help answer that question and shed some light on what you should be looking for when adding fish to your diet.
Here are 10 of the healthiest fish to eat, according to an expert.
Wild-caught salmon contains significant levels of Omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, and essential minerals.
Cooked wild Atlantic salmon is a high-protein option that you’ll want to make a regular part of your diet.
Gorin said, “You should aim to eat at least two 3.5-ounce servings of cooked fatty fish such as salmon each week,” although she notes that you won’t be reaping the exact same health benefits with farmed salmon.
“If you’re take cooked wild Atlantic salmon and compare that with cooked farmed Atlantic salmon, you will find that the wild salmon has a bit more protein and less fat as well as some additional amounts of certain vitamins and minerals,” Gorin said.
Sardines don’t contain the high levels of mercury that some other fish do, due to their small size and the fact that they only feed on plankton.
- Thomson Reuters
Eating smaller deep-water fish like sardines is also a more environmentally sustainable option. Despite their small size, they pack a high amount of Omega-3s in each serving and are high in B-12, Vitamin D, and calcium.
Due to their high Omega-3 content, they can also boost cognitive function. According to Gorin, studies have shown that daily intake of DHA and EPA Omega-3s may help improve memory function in older adults who complain of mild memory issues.
Herring boasts one of the most concentrated sources of Omega-3 fatty acids.
- etitarenko / iStock
Herring is also high in selenium, B-12 vitamins, vitamin D, iron, and antioxidants, according to the US Department of Agriculture. Like sardines, herring is also a smaller fish that’s low in mercury.
Atlantic mackerel contains one of the lowest levels of mercury contamination while serving up plenty of immunity-boosting Vitamin D.
- Flickr / Wapster
“There are very few foods that provide Vitamin D, and fatty fish like mackerel is one of them,” Gorin said. In addition, mackerel is a complete protein and one regular filet offers around 20.8 grams of protein.
However, it’s important to know where you’re sourcing the fish from, as the US Food & Drug Administration advises against consuming too much King Mackerel and Spanish Mackerel due to their relatively high levels of mercury.
While anchovies have plenty of critics due to their strong flavor, they’re one of the healthiest fish options.
- Thomson Reuters
Rainbow trout contains high levels of protein.
Rainbow trout that is found in the US is all farm-raised and held to strict standards, according to the Environmental Defense Fund.
This fish is high up on the list due to its rich Omega-3 content and its significant levels of protein, which clocks in at almost 20 grams per 3 ounces of farmed fish. This is comparable to its wild-caught counterpart.
Tilapia has one of the lowest levels of mercury of any fish.
This makes it one of the best choices of fish for pregnant or breastfeeding women and children over the age of 2 years, according to recommendations from the Food and Drug Administration. In addition to being a lean, relatively inexpensive fish, one filet of tilapia can serve up over 23 grams of protein.
Wild Alaskan Pollock boasts some of the lowest mercury levels of any wild-caught fish.
In addition to serving nearly 15 of protein per 3 ounces, the flaky white fish is also high in Omega-3 fatty acids while being low in carbohydrates and fat. It’s also a more sustainable alternative to cod, which often suffers from over-fishing practices.
Choosing chunk light canned tuna can be a healthier alternative to other types of tuna.
Skipjack tuna, which is used in many canned light tuna products, is a better choice than some other types of canned tuna, according to the FDA, because of lower levels of mercury. For an even healthier option, you can purchase your chunk light canned tuna in water instead of oil.