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How to Choose the Best Fish for Your Health & The Environment

You’ve probably heard by now that fish is healthy for you, but some fish can be toxic, most notably having too much mercury.  I’m personally not a big fish eater from a taste perspective, but I do eat fish regularly for my health.  And since I don’t just love fish, I stick to eating the fish that I think provides the biggest bang for my health.  Personally, I believe wild-caught Alaskan salmon is the healthiest fish you can eat and probably behind that would be sardines.  I’ve talked about both of these in my food buying guideFish

But, some people really like fish/seafood and want to know the best choices beyond salmon and sardines.  Thus, this post on choosing fish and seafood.  The best choices are based on their impact on health (how much omega-3 and how many toxins) and their impact on the environment (in terms of sustainable fishing practices). *Please note that I reference where the fish should be coming from.  This is important because one type of fish can be really good from a certain area, but bad from another area (ocean or country).

Best choices – Wild-caught Alaskan Salmon, Sardines (U.S. or Pacific), Alaskan or U.S. Pacific Cod, Rainbow Trout (farmed), Atlantic Mackerel, Alaskan or Canadian Sablefish or Black Cod, Canadian or U.S. pole/troll caught Albacore Tuna (not canned), Farmed Arctic Char, Haddock, Pacific Halibut, Mahimahi (U.S.), Tilapia (U.S. only), Yellow Perch, Alaskan or Atlantic Pollock (except Iceland)

Okay choices – Pacific Flounder or Sole, Grouper (Gulf of Mexico only), Pollock (U.S.),  Yellowtail Snapper, Herring, Tongol Tuna (troll/pole caught)

Worst Choices – Catfish, Swai, Bluefin Tuna, Yellowfin Tuna, Orange Roughy, Chilean Seabass, Shark, Red Snapper, Swordfish, Tilapia (Asia), Sardines (Mediterranean), Bigeye (Ahi) Tuna, King Mackerel, Atlantic Cod, Atlantic Flounder or Sole or Halibut, Atlantic Salmon (farmed or wild)

*When it comes to tuna, there are several different types and different methods of fishing.  I’ve listed a few above, but be sure to consult the sources below.  When it comes to canned tuna, it seems like canned light skipjack tuna that is pole/troll caught might be the safest.

*I don’t eat seafood other than fish because I believe in the Biblical admonition to only eat seafood (or freshwater) with fins and scales.  However, if you don’t believe that and you like crustaceans and non-fish seafood, then the best choices are farmed clams, crab (except Blue and imported King), crawfish (U.S. only), lobster (U.S. only), oysters, scallops, shrimp (U.S. or Canada), and squid.  *Please note that most shrimp is imported and is considered “very dirty”.

*This is not a comprehensive list of all seafood.  For more information, please check out the referenced sources below.

*If you eat sushi, check out the Environmental Defense Fund guide on their website.

*Sources: Environmental Defense Fund,, Natural Resources Defense Council 

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