For a healthy heart, fish is often a better choice than meat. It’s leaner and lower in cholesterol and saturated fats. More importantly, fish is higher in omega-3 fatty acids, a type of “healthy fats”, which are essential to our body as we cannot make them ourselves. This is why adding fish to your diet is a smart choice for your health. Here you will find a few of these finned creatures that you’ll want to make sure are on your grocery list.
In a balanced diet, omega-3 fatty acids should be consumed in equal measures with another essential fatty acid, omega-6. Omega-6s are found in most plant-based oils (such as corn oil) and in nuts or seeds. However, most Americans consume 6 times more omega-6s than omega-3s, because they are easier to find. This is a huge imbalance. However, by eating these seven oily fish 2-4 times a week, you can restore a healthy balance of essential fatty acids.
You can see why Omega-3s are so important and oily fish are a great place to find this essential fatty acid.
1. Wild salmon from Alaska
Fresh, frozen or canned are all OK. Wild salmon will cost you a lot more (on average, $30 per pound) than the farmed variety, but it’s worth the big bucks. Salmon farms hold up to 1 million fish per net, and this overcrowding exposes the farmed salmon to chemicals, lice, bacteria and viruses. Plus, salmon farming practices produce waste and can spread parasites and disease to wild fish, among other problems, according to Seafood Watch.
Calorie count: 180 per 4-ounce serving.
Fillet of wild salmon from alaska :
2. Sockeye Salmon
Available fresh from May to October, sockeye salmon is best wild-caught and mainly from Alaska with smaller amounts from Washington and Oregon. It is also available frozen and canned year round, but again watch out for high sodium and unhealthy fat content.
A 3.5 oz serving of salmon contains 27 grams of protein, 216 calories and 1.4 grams of omega-3s.
Fillet of Sockeye Salmon :
3. Arctic char
At a sushi bar, this fish is known as iwana. Arctic char is an environmentally friendly substitute for farmed salmon because it’s farmed in systems that are chemical-free and usually void of diseases. It’s fine to opt for this farmed fish over wild-caught (which isn’t easy to get, anyway).
Calorie count: 204 per 4-ounce serving.
Fillet of Arctic char :
4. Freshwater Trout
Also known as rainbow trout, this is a close cousin to the salmon. Most of the trout you’ll find in the grocery store is farm raised, which can be good and bad. Only buy farm-raised fish from “raceways which mimic a free-flowing river and use large amounts of freshwater,” rather than open-water net pens. Just ask your grocer or seafood merchant where the fish come from. If they don’t know the answer, take that as a warning sign and shop elsewhere. A 3.5 oz serving of lake trout contains 20 grams of protein, 189 calories and 2.0 grams of omega-3s.
Available year round, you can enjoy trout baked, boiled, grilled, poached, or sauteed. Just make sure to avoid smoked or canned varieties that are high in salt and packed in heavy oils.
Fillet of freshwater trout :
You may have heard that mackerel is one of those fish that is high in mercury, and for some species of mackerel, this is true. But the two mackerel on the safe-to-eat list include Atka Mackerel from Alaska and Atlantic Mackerel.
Fall is the best time to shop for this fish, as it is during this season that it has the highest levels of omega-3s.
A 3.5 ounce serving of mackerel contains about 21 grams of protein, 260 calories, and 2.6 grams of omega-3s.
Mackerel is good baked, broiled, grilled, and poached. Try to avoid the smoked varieties, as these are very high in salt.
Atlantic mackerel fillet :
Sardines come in all shapes and sizes, but pound for pound they really pack a punch in the nutrient department. Rich in calcium, protein, iron, selenium, B12, and omega-3 fatty acids, sardines are an excellent addition to any meal plan.
Best enjoyed fresh in the late summer, you can find frozen and canned sardines year round. Just make sure to read the label for high sodium content and unhealthy oils.
A 3.5 oz serving of sardines contains 22 grams of protein, 203 calories, and 1.5 grams of omega-3s.
Fresh sardines fillet :
6. Albacore Tuna
Everybody’s favorite, if you love tuna fish sandwiches or sushi, that is! However, make sure you limit your weekly intake of tuna, as it is on the ‘moderate’ list for mercury levels.
A 3.5 oz serving of Albacore (or white) tuna contains 23 grams of protein, 103 calories, and 1.5 grams of omega-3s.
Albacore tuna fillet :
Have you ever heard the term, a “red herring?” Well, herring is the true red herring because it’s really a sardine! Or rather, it’s from the same family.
You can find herring in many products on the shelf from pickled to smoked, but most of these are high in sodium and aren’t the healthiest choice. A 3.5 oz serving of herring contains 14 grams of protein, 202 calories and 1.7 grams of omega-3s. You can cook it almost any way, but it’s really good poached.
Herring fillet :
Exact species doesn’t matter – all types of rockfish caught in California are OK, according to the EDF. There are more than 70 species of rockfish living off the U.S. west coast, and most are healthy. A few stocks are recovering from overfishing, but a new management program installed by conservation groups is helping fishermen keep the marine ecosystem intact.
Calorie count: 106 per 4-ounce serving.
Rockfish Fillet :
9. Sablefish / black cod
Sablefish is known for its rich, buttery flesh, which puts it in high demand. Seafood Watch recommends you stick to sablefish caught off California, Alaska and British Columbia, where fishing practices have reduced the likelihood of the accidental catch of other species. The EDF advises children 12 and under to eat only two servings a month due to a moderate mercury content.
Calorie count: 220 calories per 4-ounce serving.
Sablefish Fillet :
This little fish is available year-round and can be frozen, raw or canned. Although all anchovies have low mercury levels and high omega-3s, Seafood Watch recommends only eating those fished from the Adriatic Sea, where fishing methods are sustainable and less likely to accidentally catch marine mammals.
Anchovies fillet :
11. Pacific Halibut
Overfishing has depleted the stock of Atlantic halibut, but the similar Pacific halibut remains an option. These fish are raised in marine fisheries and then caught with longlines, a fishing method more sustainable than nets (which are the main reason why Atlantic halibut are endangered). Still, the EDF suggests kids ages 5 and under eat Pacific halibut only twice a month because of its mild mercury content.
Calorie count: 142 per 4-ounce serving.
Pacific halibut fillet :
Watch out for the country-of-origin label – Seafood Watch recommends purchasing catfish raised exclusively in the U.S. because contamination can occur in countries such as Vietnam, Thailand and China, where the government doesn’t regulate fish farming operations. Catfish is the most commonly farmed fish in the U.S. and is touted for its low mercury levels.
Calorie count: 108 per 4-ounce serving.
Catfish fillet :
Oysters can be either farmed or caught in the wild (although wild-caught oysters are uncommon). Both methods are generally well-managed and have a low impact on the environment, so oysters are always a great option. At the sushi bar, you may see oysters called kaki.
Calorie count: 67 per 4-ounce serving.
Farmed mussels are raised in an environmentally responsible manner – they’re hung from ropes in the ocean. This causes minimal impact to the surrounding ecosystem and in some cases can actually improve the marine environment. You may see them called murugai at a sushi bar.
Calorie count: 97 per 4-ounce serving.