eat the healthiest fish

Fish and other seafood are healthy sources of protein and good fats. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that adults eat two servings of fish or seafood per week. Those who are pregnant or breastfeeding should eat one more serving, aiming for a total of 12 ounces of fish.

Fish is a great source of vitamins and nutrients. It also helps support brain and cardiovascular health.

This article will discuss the best fish to eat, why fish is healthy, including fatty fish, and the types to avoid.

What makes fish healthy?

Fish is high in protein and relatively low in fat and calories. Eating fish regularly can reduce the risk of being overweight, heart disease, and stroke. The reasons are as follows:

Vitamin and Mineral Content

Fish is rich in beneficial vitamins and minerals. These substances help our bodies do their job, but usually the body can’t make them, you have to get them from the food you eat. When you eat fish, you get a dose of essential vitamins and minerals, including:

  • iron
  • Zinc
  • iodine
  • magnesium
  • Potassium
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin B2

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Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Fish is the best food source of omega-3 fatty acids. Your body cannot produce omega-3s, but they are essential for overall health. Get enough of these good fats to keep your brain and heart healthy. This is especially important for pregnant women and fetal development. In fact, omega-3s are so important that they can help you live longer and reduce your combined risk of dying from cancer, cardiovascular disease, and other causes.

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A significant number of Americans are not meeting current recommendations for omega-3 intake.

Farm-raised Atlantic salmon is one of the best sources of omega-3, but other fatty fish like mackerel and tuna also contain omega-3.

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Health Precautions

While fish is generally very healthy, there are a few things you should consider when choosing what to eat.

wild or farmed

Globally, about half of the fish consumed is farmed and half caught in the wild. When you’re choosing between wild or farmed fish, weigh the following factors:

  • Nutritional value: Wild fish are generally lower in saturated fat (“bad” fat), while farmed fish are higher in omega-3s.
  • Contaminants: Some studies show that farmed fish contain more contaminants that can be harmful to health, but wild fish can contain mercury, which is dangerous.
  • Environmental impact: Farming some fish is more sustainable than fishing in the wild; for others, the opposite is true.

mercury content

Mercury is a naturally occurring element that can be harmful to humans in high concentrations. Avoiding mercury is especially important for pregnant women and children. Excessive exposure to mercury can affect the central nervous system, kidneys and liver.

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Some fish are high in mercury and should be avoided. This includes predatory fish, such as swordfish, and fish caught in bodies of water where mercury is present. If you are eating caught fish, be sure to follow any local warnings about mercury.

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best fish

The FDA recently released a list of the best fish to eat. Most of the fish you eat should come from the best choice list. The list includes:

  • Anchovy
  • Atlantic Mackerel
  • black bass
  • Catfish
  • Clams, crabs, lobsters and other shellfish
  • flounder
  • haddock
  • hake
  • perched
  • Pickrel
  • Pollock
  • salmon
  • sardine
  • only
  • Tilapia
  • canned light tuna
  • freshwater trout
  • whitefish
  • Whiting

The list also highlights some great options. These include:

  • bluefish
  • carp
  • Chilean Sea Bass
  • grouper
  • halibut
  • mahi mahi
  • snapper
  • Striped bass
  • Canned albacore or white tuna
  • yellowfin tuna

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what fish to avoid

It is best to avoid fish with the highest levels of mercury. While healthy adults can occasionally eat these fish, pregnant women, nursing mothers, and children should avoid them entirely.

  • king mackerel
  • Marlins
  • orange roughly
  • hear
  • swordfish
  • tilefish
  • Bigeye Tuna


Fish is very healthy because it contains high concentrations of vitamins, nutrients and omega-3 fatty acids. Most Americans should eat fish twice a week; while pregnant or breastfeeding, people should eat three servings of fish a week. Doing so can reduce your risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease, and may help you maintain a healthy weight.

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How to get heart-healthy Omega-3 fats, even if you’re allergic to fish

VigorTip words

Fish is an important part of a healthy diet, but cooking it can be daunting. If you’re wary of cooking fish, start with something simple like canned tuna, salmon, or shrimp. Try new recipes until you find a healthy and nutrient-dense fishmeal that works for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What fish is the least healthy?

    Fish is generally very healthy, but some are high in mercury and should be avoided. Swordfish and other predatory fish tend to have the highest levels of mercury.

  • Do some fish have more pollutants than others?

    Fish can become infected with contaminants from where they are raised. In some cases, farmed fish contain more contaminants from the food they are fed. However, some wild fish are exposed to mercury and should be avoided.

  • Is eating sushi healthy?

    Sushi is healthy and a great way to eat fish. Always get sushi and other fish from clean and reputable sources.

  • Does eating fish help with weight loss?

    Fish has fewer calories than other “entrees” like chicken or red meat. Studies have shown that eating fish twice a week can reduce the risk of being overweight.