One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish. The health-minded speak often about the benefits of consuming fish, which are an excellent source of proteins, minerals, and, especially, Omega-3 fatty acids, essential fats which support heart health, improve immune function, reduce inflammation, and can even reverse anxiety. But, as it turns out, all fish are not created equal. Some fish may pose serious health risks due to toxins and metals, and others may have more nutritional value. Read on for six fish you should avoid, and the best choices for your health.
Studies have shown that PCBs and other contaminants are significantly higher in farmed salmon than in wild, and that eating farmed Atlantic salmon can cause health risks that detract from the benefits of eating fish. Because farmed fish are exposed to diseases and parasites, they’re treated with large volumes of antibiotics, which can also pose a health risk as it makes humans more resistant to antibiotic treatments.
If you love salmon, shop wild Alaskan salmon. It also has higher nutritional content—almost 4x as much Vitamin A per serving, almost 9x as much Vitamin D per serving, and 5x less fat. Alternatively, you can also swap in farmed Arctic char or rainbow trout.
Tuna in general is notorious for having high levels of mercrury, which can pose a serious threat to the nervous system, so it should be avoided in general. However, Atlantic Bluefin tuna has the highest mercury levels of any type. If you’re intent on having tuna, make sure to avoid it.
Like tuna, grouperand Chilean sea bass also contain high levels of mercury. Avoid them if you can!
Almost 90% of the catfish imported to the United States are derived from Vietnam, where antibiotics—which are banned in the U.S.—are widely used in fish. Instead, look for domestic, farm-raised catfish.
Often used in sushi, American eel (also called yellow or silver eel) is highly contaminated with PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) and mercury. Not to mention, eel fisheries are also known to suffer from pollution and over-harvesting. PCBs are highly toxic industrial compounds, which can pose serious health risks to fetuses, babies, and children, including developmental and neurological problems.
A whopping 90% of shrimp sold in the U.S. is imported—only 88% of which is inspected before it’s sold. For this reason, imported farmed shrimp has all sorts of contaminants, including E. coli, antibiotics, chemical residue, insect parts, and more unhealthy stuff. If you want shrimp, purchase it domestically, from the Gulf of Mexico or Oregon, and look for certification under the Marine Stewardship Council.
Flatfish like halibut, sole, and flounder caught off the Atlantic coast is known to be heavily contaminated and overfished. Instead, try Pacific halibut or domestically farmed tilapia.
If it feels like all of your favorite fish have been struck from the list, what good, healthy fish can you eat? Here are a few great fish to add to your diet.