The 5 Healthiest Fish You Should Be Eating More
You know how good fish is for your health, but that’s only true if you’re eating the right kind. Here are the ones to feast on.
Fish are loaded with nutrients that support your health. The World Health Organization recommends eating two servings of fatty fish each week—the equivalent of 300 to 500 mg of omega-3 fatty acids a day.
“Most of us still don’t eat enough fish,” says registered dietitian nutritionist Bonnie Taub-Dix, creator of betterthandieting.com and author of Read It Before You Eat It: Taking You from Label to Table. If you want to incorporate more seafood into your diet, be sure that you’re choosing the right varieties.
Wild Pacific salmon
You’ll get vitamin D, selenium which supports your metabolism, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin B12 which is good for your brain and body.
Experts say that wild-caught Pacific salmon is your best choice: “Wild-caught means less mercury build-up and fewer antibiotics and hormones, and the fish get to swim freely,” says registered dietitian nutritionist Monica Auslander Moreno of Essence Nutrition. The wild variety will cost more than farmed, but it’s worth the expense.
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Cod is a flaky, mild-flavoured white fish similar to haddock and pollock. It’s a good source of vitamin B-12, protein, phosphorus, and niacin. Try this meatier fish grilled or baked.
“It can hold up well to different types of preparations without falling apart,” says Taub-Dix. “Cod is like a blank canvas that pairs well with any sauce.” Compared to men who consumed beef for lunch, those who had cod ate 11 per cent less at dinner in a European Journal of Clinical Nutrition study.
Researchers attribute its slimming properties to cod’s heavy bulk of high-quality protein and its metabolism-regulating amino acids.
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Fresh or in a tin, sardines are nutritional and inexpensive. You can find them salted, smoked, or canned in most markets. The canned kinds have whole or fillet sardines in oil, water, tomato sauce, or hot sauce. “If you don’t ditch the bones in sardines, your bones will thank you,” Taub-Dix says—you’ll get about 40 per cent of your recommended daily value of calcium per serving. “Since most of us don’t get enough calcium, sardines are an excellent choice for many types of diets, especially those that can’t handle dairy,” she says.
The bite-sized fish is naturally high in vitamin D, too—many people fail to get enough D. Because they’re at the bottom of the food chain, they tend to contain less mercury. (The element builds up in large fish that feast on other big fish.)
Toss a salad with the fish or mash them on a slice of bread with mayo and tomato. “If you’re new to the taste, I recommend starting with canned sardines in olive oil instead of water,” says registered dietitian Jenna Appel, owner of Appel Nutrition Inc in Boca Raton, Florida. One note of caution: A can of sardines has about 282 milligrams of sodium, says Appel.
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The smaller fish at the bottom of the food chain tend to be a better choice: They reproduce in great numbers, grow fast, and contain fewer contaminants. Herring are one of the world’s best sources of vitamin D, a vitamin that protects bone, prevents breast and prostate cancers, and boosts heart health. (Herring has around 7 mcg per 3-oz. serving.)
A fatty fish, herring is especially good when it’s smoked—though that also means it will be loaded with sodium, so eat it in moderation. “Traditionally, pickled herring is served in a sour cream sauce,” says registered dietitian Alix Turoff. “A lighter take on this dish could use Greek yogurt instead of sour cream and stevia instead of sugar. It’s often mixed with vinegar and raw chopped onions.”
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Farmed rainbow trout
This tasty and affordable fish is high in omega-3 fatty acids and B vitamins. It has a soft texture and flavour kids will likely enjoy. “Trout pairs well with lemon and herbs like dill, thyme, or parsley,” says Turoff. “It can be grilled or roasted for a simple meal.
Nearly all trout at your local supermarket is farmed rainbow trout. Because the farms are contained, the fish are more protected from contaminants and keeps mercury levels low.
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