Here are 5 fish that are healthy for you and the planet that Seafood Watch
says you should be eating (summary).
1. Atlantic Mackerel (purse seine, from Canada and the U.S.)
This strong-flavored fish is high in heart-healthy omega-3s, a good source of protein—delivering 20 grams in a 3-ounce fillet—and pairs well with bold seasonings.
2. Freshwater Coho Salmon (farmed in tank systems, from the U.S.)
Freshwater coho salmon is the first—and only—farmed salmon to get a Super Green rating. The majority of farms use open net pens in the ocean, where crowded salmon are easily infected with parasites, may be treated with antibiotics and can spread diseases to wild fish (one reason Alaska has banned salmon farms). Look for land-based
at the fish counter. All salmon is a healthy source of omega-3s. One 3-ounce serving delivers 700 to 1,800 milligrams.
3. Sardines, Pacific (wild-caught)
The tiny, inexpensive sardine is making it onto many lists of superfoods and for good reason. It packs more omega-3s (1,950 mg!) per 3-ounce serving than salmon, tuna or just about any other food; it is also one of the very, very few foods that are naturally high in vitamin D.
4. Salmon (wild-caught, from Alaska)
To give you an idea of how well managed Alaskas salmon fishery is, consider this: biologists are posted at river mouths to count how much wild fish return to spawn. If the numbers begin to dwindle, the fishery is closed before it reaches its limits, as was done recently with some Chinook fisheries. This close monitoring, along with strict quotas and careful management of water quality, means Alaskas wild-caught salmon are both healthier (they pack 1,210 mg of omega-3s per 3-ounce serving and carry few contaminants) and more sustainable than just about any other salmon fishery.
5. Salmon, Canned (wild-caught, from Alaska)
A nutritional powerhouse. In addition to its healthy omega-3 content, canned salmon is one of the best sources of nondairy calcium—with 3 ounces delivering 170 mg. Wild-caught salmon from Alaska is low in contaminants, including mercury and lead, and comes from well-managed fisheries. Canned wild salmon is typically sockeye or pink from Alaska.
Here are the 5 fish to avoid:
The large fish listed below are just five examples EatingWell chose to highlight: popular fish that are both depleted and, in many cases, carry higher levels of mercury and PCBs. The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) has also posted health advisories on some of these fish at edf.org.
1. Bluefin Tuna
Bluefins have high levels of mercury and can be high in PCBs, so EDF recommends eating no more than 1 serving per month of this fish.
2. Orange Roughy
This fish lives a long life but is slow to reproduce, making it vulnerable to overfishing. As Seafood Watch puts it: - Orange roughy lives 100 years or more—so the fillet in your freezer might be from a fish older than your grandmother!- This also means it has high levels of mercury, causing EDF to issue a health advisory.
3. Salmon (Atlantic, farmed in pens)
Most farmed salmon are raised in tightly packed, open-net pens often rife with parasites and diseases that threaten the wild salmon trying to swim by to their ancestral spawning waters. Open-net farmed salmon are often given antibiotics to combat diseases, and their food and waste pollute the ocean. Freshwater-farmed salmon have earned a Best Choice status from Seafood Watch and some open-net systems are rated as Good Alternatives (see more salmon recommendations from Seafood Watch). There is hope that consumer pressure will encourage more farms to continue to adopt better practices.
4. Mahi-Mahi (Costa Rica, Guatemala & Peru)
Imported, longline mahi-mahi, or dolphinfish, is rated as one of the least eco-friendly fish by the Environmental Defense Fund.
5. Halibut (Atlantic, wild)
This fish grows and matures slowly (living as long as 50 years), so it is susceptible to overfishing. Pacific halibut is a good alternative, as it comes from well-managed fisheries with little habitat damage and low rates of other marine life being caught as bycatch.