Fish Nutrition: Is Fish the Healthiest Choice?

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on StumbleUponShare on RedditPin on Pinterest

Fish Nutrition: Is Fish Always the Healthiest Choice?

Fish is a great source of protein, with low amounts of saturated fat and high amounts of heart-healthy omega-3 fats. Indeed, certain species are nearly perfect health foods.

American Heart Association Recommendations

The American Heart Association recommends eating fish, especially fish high in omega-3 fats, at least two times (two servings) per week.1 Fish high in omega-3 fats include salmon, mackerel, herring, trout, sardines, and albacore tuna.

Best Fishes for Omega-3s

Salmon
Mackerel
Herring
Trout
Sardines
Albacore
Tuna

Farm Raised Fish

However, similar to beef and chicken, the manner in which fish are raised significantly changes the content and healthfulness of the fish. Not all fish are caught in the wild. In fact, most fish are raised on fish farms that mimic large-scale chicken or beef feed lots. For example, farm-raised salmon feed on feed meal rather than on krill found in the ocean, which changes the character of the fish.

Farmed fish generally contain more saturated fats and less omega-3 fats and less protein than their wild-caught counterparts. For example, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, farmed salmon contains 20% more saturated fat and 20% less protein than wild salmon. Additionally, farmed-fish contains more “persistent organic pollutants,” including dioxins and PCBs.

In general, the healthiest fish choices are fish caught in the wild. For optimal nutrition, choose wild-caught fish over farmed-raised fish. Additionally, do not be fooled by some supermarket labels or restaurant menu descriptions, such as “North Atlantic Salmon” or  “Chilean Sea Bass”. These are simply breeds; this does not mean they were caught in the North Atlantic or in Chile.

1. Fish 101. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/Fish-101_UCM_305986_Article.jsp: American Heart Association; 2012.