5 best fish to eat for good health

Go, you! You have decided now is the time to start improving your lifestyle, starting with eating healthier foods. Congratulations on taking this first step! There are a lot of ways to update your menu to get the nutrients you need. First, add more vegetables and fruits. Second, add more fish.

Why add fish? Fish not only supplies you with the protein you need for your day but you also get much-needed vitamins such as vitamin B, as well as zinc and iron. You also get important omega-3 fatty acids which your body cannot produce on its own.

And, fish contains less cholesterol and saturated fat than meat so it will aid in maintaining a healthy weight.

There is some confusion as to what types of fish to eat and which is the healthiest.

In this article, we've combed the most authoritative health and medical sites and have broken it down for you.

Which Are the Top 5 Healthiest Fish? 

According to Healthline.com, the list below summarizes the top 5 best fish for your health.

1. Alaskan Salmon 

Salmon is an ideal choice for your omega-3 acids, vitamins, and minerals. Right now, there is much debate concerning whether farmed or wild salmon is better for you. Both have advantages and disadvantages. As with all fish, make sure you choose from a reputable source that sustainably and responsibly raises salmon.

2. Cod 

You get a good deal of phosphorus, niacin, and vitamin B-12 from this delicious white, flaky fish. Just 3 ounces of cooked cod can provide 15 to 20 grams of protein. You can't go wrong with this selection.

3. Herring 

This is a fatty fish very much similar to sardines. It is especially delicious when smoked. However, take care when eating smoked herring, since it often contains more sodium than other fish.

4. Mackerel 

This oily fish is high in healthy fats. However, you want to opt for Spanish or smaller sized mackerel as the King mackerel has high amounts of mercury, a dangerous pollutant.

5. Mahi-mahi 

Mahi-mahi is a resilient tropical fish which makes it versatile for any type of preparation. Another name for mahi-mahi is dolphinfish and people tend to confuse it with the dolphin. Rest assured, however - mahi-mahi is completely different from a dolphin.

What Kind of Fish Can You Eat Every Day? 

According to Eric Rimm, a professor of epidemiology and nutrition in a post on August 30, 2015, on Today.com, it is fine for most people to eat fish every day. However, research is still out on people who consume fish more than twice per week since studies have not covered that frequency of consumption.

What studies have found so far is that people who eat fish numerous times per week have a lower rate of fatal heart attacks than those who don't consume fish at all.

If you stick to the top 5 fish listed earlier, eating fish on a daily basis should be perfectly okay since it is much healthier than eating meat every day.

What Is the Safest Fish to Eat? 

Green List

The U.S. Food and Drug Association (FDA) has released a "Green List" of fish that is safe to eat 2 to 3 times per week. This includes the following types:

  • Trout
  • Anchovies
  • Herring
  • Mackerel
  • Oysters
  • Coho Salmon (from U.S. & British Columbia)
  • Alaska Salmon
  • Sardines 
An image of Trout Fish on an olive wood board with seasoning

Yellow List

An image of Red Snapper cooked in Italian style

In addition, the FDA has furnished a "Yellow List" of fish that is safe to eat once per week, including the following fish types:

  • Sablefish/Black Cod
  • Tuna, Albacore
  • Mahi-mahi
  • Red Snapper

It is recommended that you eat from only from the green or yellow lists but not from both. If you have eaten the recommended amount of fish from the green or yellow lists, no other fish should be eaten for the rest of that week.

However, if you would like to eat fish every day as discussed earlier, your healthiest bet would be to stick to the green list and choose the varieties highest in omega-3 fatty acids.

What Fish Is High in Mercury? 

While for the most part, eating fish several times a week does not pose any threats, there are some risks related to eating certain fish regularly. Toxins, pollutants, and hazardous waste including mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are released from our households and power plants which then enter into rivers, lakes, and oceans. As a result, these dangerous chemicals affect all marine life living there, including fish.

The "Red List" 

The FDA, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), have released a number of cautions for women of child-bearing age, pregnant and breastfeeding women, and children. If you fit in any of these categories, you should not eat the following fish due to their high mercury content:

  • Marlin
  • Shark
  • Swordfish
  • King Mackerel
  • Tilefish
  • Tuna Steak

Not only are women of childbearing age and children at risk for conditions such as mercury poisoning, but all other people can suffer troubling symptoms as well if they eat excessive amounts of fish high in mercury. These symptoms include:

  • Tiredness
  • Migraine headaches
  • Joint discomfort
  • Diminished memory and focus 

Keep in mind that fish with a high mercury content is not completely forbidden if you are not a woman of childbearing age, pregnant, nursing, or a child. However, if you do eat fish in this category, make sure to eat only fish from the green list for the remaining part of the that month.

An image of red list fish chained with a plate.

Eat Responsibly

Once you choose your healthy fish, make sure you verify its source. Check the farming company and its methods. The farms should be reputable, sustainable, and environmentally friendly. They should also take care in maintaining the health of the fish.

Fish farms also need to operate in a socially responsible manner by looking out for their neighbors and employees.

These values and standards will definitely show up on your dinner table as you and your family enjoy healthy and safe fish.

As many other countries have demonstrated by example, fish is among the best food sources for optimal health, boundless energy, and long life. Pick up that shopping list, check your farming sources, and find some healthy fish recipes to try. Here's to your health!

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