Choosing The Right Fish, Seafood

We’ve all heard about the dangers of mercury contamination in larger fish such as bluefin tuna and swordfish. That raises a new question. Just what fish should we be eating without wiping out another species or exposing ourselves to additional health hazards? Should we prefer wild, sustainable fish over farm-raised varieties? Is there a difference?

Large, sea-going fish are carnivorous. They eat other fish. It’s that diet that makes many varieties of sea fish rich in omega-3 fats, which are beneficial to the heart. Farmed fish and seafood are a growing business. But the hard part is feeding them. That’s why they don’t always taste as good as wild fish. Technology is improving, but the danger lies in emptying the oceans of vital small fish to feed large farm fish. Too often, farms rely on corn pellets. Those release large amounts of omega-6 fats, which are not good.

So, what do we do? How do we know what fish are sustainable and which are endangered? And how do we know which farm-raised fish are good?

One thing to do is to download and print this handy card from the Natural Resources Defense Council, courtesy of Dr. Mark Hyman, a practicing physician and columnist. The card tells you how much of different kinds of fish are safe, which are endangered and which species are the safest. Curiously, most of the safest fish are also the most abundant.

Another tool is to look for the brand label. Yes, many high quality farm-raised fish are sporting a brand name. You can learn more about those from Cleanfish, a company that brings artisanal fisherman and fisheries to the marketplace under recognizable brands. These feature Scottish and Irish farm raised salmon, wild and farm raised shrimp and more.

If you don’t eat much fish, you might want to consider taking a fish oil supplement, because your body needs omega-3’s to function properly and most people don’t get enough.

It sounds silly to have to do homework to figure out what to order in a seafood restaurant. But knowing which kinds of fish pose the most danger and are most threatened is a start.