According to dieticians, two portions of fish should be a part of our weekly diet. Even if you don’t want to cook it at home, choose to eat at seafood restaurants to make sure that you are consuming enough fish. Fish is a great source of healthy and lean protein. Especially if you are observing a keto diet, fish can prove to be a wonderful protein source. Moreover, if you opt for oily kinds of fish, like salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines, you can benefit from their meat which is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These fats help keep your brain and heart healthy.
However, when it comes to fish, a real concern for the environment comes into question. And the worry of choosing sustainable seafood rises. So, if you are someone who really cares about the planet and find yourself perplexed when standing in a fish market and asking the question of what is good for you as well as the planet. Then you can let go of your worry now! We have done some research for you and talked to some nutritionists, looking for the healthiest fish to eat. Keeping in mind sustainability, mercury content, and the nutritional benefits of each fish.
Why is it Important to Include Fish in your Diet?
It is common knowledge that fish is a great source of lean protein that is high in omega-3 fatty acids. However, it is not just that. Fish meat is also rich in multiple minerals, especially iodine, zinc, magnesium, potassium, and iron. Moreover, it also contains a good amount of calcium and phosphorus. When it comes to vitamins you will get both vitamin D and B2 (riboflavin) from fish.
Therefore, adding fish to your regular diet can improve your brain and heart health, as it provides you with vitamins, minerals, and other micronutrients all in one. Even the American Heart Association recommends that you consume at least two servings of fish in a week.
Salmon is one of the healthiest fish that you can include in your diet. It is high in protein and is the best source of omega-3 fatty acids. These are essential for your body as the body cannot make them on its own and it has to be obtained from food sources. Moreover, salmon is also rich in vitamin B12, phosphorus and selenium. You can opt for either wild or farmed salmon depending on the availability in your area or the seafood restaurants you frequent to. However, experts at the National Institutes of Health advise on consuming wild salmon as they have higher amounts of omega-3 fats and are not as exposed to contaminants like pollutants and antibiotics, as compared to ones farmed. Farmed versions of salmon are exposed to multiple antibiotics to help them combat diseases and also have high levels of PCBs and are therefore not recommended by the health advisory. If you visit a seafood restaurant ask them for fresh wild-caught fish to get the best nutritional value.
Wild Alaskan Salmon is the best one to consume as it is rich in fats and is notable for its low amount of contamination. You can also go for the canned version if fresh wild salmon is not available. It is recommended to consume baked or seared fish. This helps retain its nutrients to the maximum. Consuming smoked fish is not a healthy option as smoked meats can increase your risk of developing cancer.
Nutritional information for a 100g serving of wild-caught, baked salmon:
Calories: 182 kcal
Protein: 25.4 g
Omega-3 content: 2,209 mg
The Atlantic mackerel is a fast-breeding fish and this the reason it is available in abundance everywhere. This fish has a strong flavor, is high in heart-healthy omega-3s, and delivers about 23.8 grams of protein per 100g of fish. Not only this but is an excellent source of vitamin B12 and vitamin D. You will also find copious amounts of selenium in Mackerel, which is important to build a strong immune system and regulate thyroid function. Another great thing about Mackerel is that it is a sustainable and affordable fish that is low in mercury.
So, you can consume this fish without having to worry about it being heavy on your pocket. Just like salmon you can opt for either fresh or canned, depending on its availability. However, refrain from consuming a large amount of smoked mackerel as smoked meat has a high nitrate content and can increase the risk of developing cancer. You can bake or sear your fish fillet to avail its full nutritional benefits. You can also dine out as many seafood restaurants have various mackerel dishes to offer.
When it comes to other mackerel species, try to avoid King Mackerel to limit its overfishing, and pollution and to steer clear of contaminants like mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls. Both the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the FDA have issued guidelines regarding children and women of childbearing age, pregnant or breastfeeding to not consume fish that is high in mercury. Therefore, it is important to shop smartly when it comes to Mackerel.
Nutritional information for a 100g serving of fresh, baked Atlantic Mackerel:
Calories: 262 kcal
Protein: 23.8 g
Omega-3 content: 1,309 mg
Herring is also one of the healthiest fish that you will find. It is also a Nordic staple and rightfully so. This fish is rich in omega-3 fats, even more than either Mackerel or Sardines. You will also find it to be an excellent source of Vitamin D, B12, B6, niacin, phosphorus, and selenium. All of which are essential for proper brain and body development. You will typically find Herring served in canned, cured, or smoked form at seafood restaurants. However, the healthiest way is to opt for fresh Herring that is baked, grilled, or pan-seared.
Nutritional information for a 100g serving of baked Herring:
Calories: 158 kcal
Omega-3 content: 2800 mg
Tuna is probably one of the most commonly consumed fish across the US, especially when it comes to the canned variety. Whether you go for canned or fresh Tuna, it is a great source of protein. Tuna is rich in all the essential amino acids that your body needs for growth and maintenance.
Just 100 grams of tuna can fulfill your daily requirement of vitamin B12, vitamin B3, and selenium. These vitamins and minerals help increase energy levels in your body and nourish the nervous system. While Tuna is not an oily fish it is still a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. You will also obtain vitamin D and iodine through its consumption. This fish is also a great source of phosphorus and is low in calories, isn’t that the best? You get to enjoy a delicious meal without having to worry about your calorie intake.
Therefore, Tuna can prove to be a great addition to a balanced diet. However, as it is a big fish, it is also important to consider where your Tuna is coming from and to track your weekly consumption of the fish. This is to ensure that you do not consume high levels of mercury. You can take Tuna in a sandwich or add it to your everyday salads. Opt for Albacore, Skipjack, and Yellowfin Tuna as they are readily available at seafood restaurants and are the best in terms of sustainability. Avoid Bluefin Tuna, primarily as they are getting endangered and also have high levels of mercury which is not good to consume.
Nutritional information for a 100g serving of baked Tuna:
Calories: 132 kcal
Protein: 28.2 g
Omega-3 content: 345 mg
Last on the list we have Sardines. All of you must be aware of the nutritional benefits of sardines. While this fish is not the most pleasant one to consume it is really good for your health. These tiny fishes pack a large amount of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B12, calcium, and other minerals. However, if you want to benefit from the calcium in sardines you will have to consume its bones. If you consume canned sardines that are packed with olive oil. You will benefit from both the fish and the oil. The omega-3 fats in sardines can work wonders for your nervous system. It helps provide a soothing effect when one is under stress. Moreover, olive oil is rich in antioxidants and healthy fats that provide nourishment and strength to the body.
To consume it weekly you can sauté them in olive oil, some tomatoes, and garlic. Season with salt, pepper, and lemon juice and you will have a delicious sardine dish ready. You can also try them in wraps, sandwiches, with crackers, or in pasta just like you will find on the menu of many seafood restaurants.
Nutritional information for a 100g serving of canned Sardines:
Calories: 208 kcal
Protein: 24.6 g
Omega-3 content: 982 mg