Which Fish to Put on Your Dish
One of the biggest hurdles many people have to jump when converting to a healthier diet is adding fish to the rotation. Some of us just can’t get past the ‘fishy’ flavour and texture.
But when you consider the health and weight loss benefits of eating fish, it’s difficult to ignore them.
1. Weight Loss
A 2007 study published in the “International Journal of Obesity” found that eating three 5.3-ounce servings of lean or fatty fish, each week for four weeks, as part of a low-calorie diet, resulted in approximately 2.2 pounds more weight lost than a similar diet that didn’t include fish.
2. ‘Rare’ Nutrients
Many fish are excellent sources of nutrients that are not common in other foods. From being one of the few food sources of vitamin D, to being the primary source of the crucial omega 3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, fish fill in major nutrition gaps in your diet.
3. Reduces the Risk of Heart Attacks & Stroke
A study by Harvard’s Department of Nutrition found a 15% lower risk of cardiovascular disease in the study’s 40,000+ male participants who ate two to four servings of fish per week versus those who ate fewer than one serving per month.
From fighting depression to improving your vision in old age, there are many other benefits of consuming fish that have been documented in numerous studies and research papers.
But not all fish are created equal. The omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin D and many of the other nutrients that deliver all of the benefits associated with fish consumption are found mainly in ‘fatty’ types of fish, including salmon, trout, sardines, tuna and mackerel. It’s the healthy fats delivered by fatty, oily fish that produce most of the benefits. Fish or seafood without those healthy fats are not nearly as good for you.
And the divisions between healthy and not so healthy fish doesn’t stop there. The same fats and oils that make some fish better for you can also hold contaminants from the environment and diet of the fish. Including nasty things like mercury, those contaminants can make fish, which would otherwise be really good for you, almost inedible.
Healthy Fish vs. Unhealthy Fish
Yet another factor to consider when choosing fish that are ‘good’ for you is the environmental impact of how they are harvested. From methods used to catch fish in the wild, to the practice of fish farming, many aspects of how the fish in the sea get to your plate can harm the environment.
The health of fish and fishing is a complex issue. The list below is a basic guide that outlines some of the fish that are best and worst for you and the environment.
The Best Fish for Your Diet
1. Wild Alaska Salmon
When you read about how healthy fish are to eat, Wild Alaska salmon would be the prototype. High in omega 3s and low in contaminants, the fish are also caught in ‘healthy’ ways too.
2. Wild Pacific Sardines
These little guys are packed with more omega 3s per gram than salmon or tuna. And they are also particularly good source of vitamin D. Their low position in the food chain also minimizes contaminants and their relatively fast reproductive cycle makes it very difficult to ‘over-fish’ them.
3. Wild Alaskan Halibut
High in omega 3s, Alaskan halibut are caught using sustainable practices that minimize damage to habitats and other species.
4. Farmed Rainbow Trout
Many wild trout are fished from lakes that are high in contaminants. But the ponds used for trout farms are kept contaminant-free.
The Worst Fish for Your Diet
1. Farmed Salmon
Salmon farming is notorious for using over crowded pens that promote the growth of disease and parasites. Adding to the problem, antibiotics are used to counteract the diseases.
2. Bluefin Tuna
First off, the Bluefin is considered an endangered species. Second, it’s been found to contain higher levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PBBs), which are linked to cancers and damage to our reproductive, nervous and endocrine systems.
A very popular sport fish, grouper are also major food fish that are now farmed. But they carry high levels of mercury and a slow reproductive cycle mans they are easily overfished.
4. Chilean Sea Bass
It sounds great on a menu, but high mercury levels and environmentally destructive fishing methods make these fish a not-so-great choice.
Whether it’s for weight loss or better health or both, when you’re making a shift in your diet towards more fish, you have lots to consider, including your health, the health of fish stocks and the health of the environment. The nutrition consultants at your local Herbal One Centre can help you make the right choices.