What Is the Best Fish to Eat?

What Is the Best Fish to Eat?

Summary:

We get to the bottom of what the healthiest and best fish to eat are, as well as explore which fish you should definitely aim to keep off your plate.

Fish is one of the best proteins in the world; they’re full of omega-3 fat that is good for your brain and heart.

Yet, there’s a major concern about overfishing, ocean pollution, and mercury content in fish.

This raises the question, “How do you determine the best fish to eat that’s healthy for your body and the planet?

Knowing what fish is the best for your health and the environment isn’t always easy.

This is why you’re here, looking for the healthiest fish to eat. 

You’re absolutely in the right place. 

In this article, you’ll get to know the seven best fish to eat which are safe to eat. Plus, you’ll also know which fish to avoid that are harmful to you and the planet.

Not all fish are the same. So it’s essential to know how to obtain the most out of what you eat.

Let’s dive in! 

What Is the Healthiest Fish to Eat?

When choosing the best fish to eat that are healthy and sustainable, it’s important to consider the following before purchasing:

  • Is this a wild or farmed fish?
  • What region was the fish caught?
  • How was the fish caught? Was it caught sustainably?
  • What treatments has it undergone?
  • What are the environmental impacts of eating this fish?
  • Is this fish safe to eat?
Bird's eye view of table of food with fish

The fish in our “best fish to eat” list passed all the considerations above and is packed with high-quality protein good for your health.

‘Diet’ does not mean ‘temporary alteration of your life for short-term gain.’ It means ‘way of life.’

— Eric Edmeades, trainer of Mindvalley’s WILDFIT Quest

The fish listed in this article are eco-friendlier choices too, which means they are either caught responsibly or ethically farmed, and not overfished.

1. Alaskan wild salmon

Some studies suggest that eating salmon is bad for you because it contains a lot of saturated fat, which can lead to obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Yet, some believe that wild-caught salmon is healthier than farmed salmon.

So, is salmon good for you?

Only certain types of salmon are good for you.

Alaskan wild salmon

Farmed salmon has 3x more total fat, and it has lower nutritional value compared to wild-caught salmon. You should avoid farmed salmon, and go for wild salmon instead.

Table 1: A nutritional comparison between farmed salmon and wild salmon.

 1/2 fillet wild salmon1/2 fillet farmed salmon
Calories281412
Protein39 grams40 grams
Fat13 grams27 grams
Omega-33.4 grams4.2 grams
Omega-6341 mg1,944 mg
Cholesterol109 mg109 mg
Iron9%4%
Magnesium14%13%
Phosphorus40%48%
Potassium28%21%
Sodium3.6%4.9%
Zinc9%5%

With that said, wild Alaskan salmon is a healthier choice over farmed salmon. 

Some of the wild salmon benefits are:

  • Rich in omega-3 fat
  • High in protein
  • Packed with B vitamins
  • Loaded with potassium and selenium

2. Light tuna (canned)

Tuna is incredibly nutritious and a great source of protein, B vitamins, and omega-3’s. However, some tunas are considered fish high in mercury, a toxic heavy metal.

Overconsumption of mercury in fish can lead to serious health illnesses, such as brain development problems, memory loss, permanent brain, and kidney damage.

Light tuna

The safest fish to eat in the tuna category is canned chunk light tuna packed in water. Chunk light is made mostly from skipjack tuna, a smaller kind of tuna with lower mercury content.

A 5-ounce canned chunk light tuna provides:

  • Calories: 179
  • Carbohydrate: 0g
  • Tuna protein: 39.3g (79% of Daily Value, DV)
  • Total fat: 1.3g (2% of DV)
  • Vitamin B6: 27% of DV
  • Vitamin B12: 77% of DV
  • Iron: 13% of DV
  • Phosphorus: 25% of DV
  • Sodium: 22% of DV
  • Selenium: 177% of DV

3. Atlantic mackerel

Mackerel is a high-protein, white fish full of omega-3’s, vitamin B-12, selenium, and vitamin D, which makes it one of the best fish to eat. However, you still need to choose wisely as not all mackerel is safe to eat. 

When it comes to choosing mackerel, be sure to opt for Atlantic mackerel because it’s a low mercury fish with very low mercury content.

King mackerel and Spanish mackerel, on the other hand, are fish high in mercury that we should avoid eating.

One fillet (88g, 3.1oz) of cooked Atlantic mackerel offers:

  • Calories: 231
  • Carbohydrate: 0g
  • Protein: 21g (42% of DV)
  • Total fat: 15.7g (24% of DV)
  • Vitamin B6: 20% of DV
  • Vitamin B12: 279% of DV
  • Niacin: 30% of DV
  • Magnesium: 21% of DV
  • Phosphorus: 24% of DV
  • Sodium: 3% of DV
  • Selenium: 65% of DV

4. Rainbow trout

This cold-water fish is on the “healthiest fish to eat” list because despite being low in calories, rainbow trout is loaded with protein, omega-3s, and essential vitamins and minerals. Plus, it’s one of the best high-protein, low-fat fish for people who want to lose weight healthily.

Unlike salmon, farmed rainbow trout have low mercury levels, as they’re raised protected from contaminants.

You might ask, “Trouts and salmon look the same, how are they different?

Great question! This is a common confusion between trout vs salmon, as they usually look quite similar.

Rainbow trout

Tastewise, trout tastes very similar to salmon. However, farm-raised trout tend to have a more fishy taste. 

One fillet (71g, 2.5oz) of cooked rainbow trout has:

  • Calories: 120
  • Carbohydrate: 0g
  • Protein: 17.2g (34% of DV)
  • Total fat: 5.1g (8% of DV)
  • Vitamin B6: 14% of DV
  • Vitamin B12: 59% of DV
  • Niacin: 31% of DV
  • Potassium: 9% of DV
  • Phosphorus: 19% of DV
  • Sodium: 1% of DV
  • Selenium: 15% of DV

5. Tilapia

Tilapia is a type of white fish that has a mild taste and it’s relatively inexpensive compared to other fish options. 

Due to its price, some people wonder, “Is tilapia healthy?

Yes! Tilapia is a low mercury fish and is considered one of the safest fish to eat.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administrator (FDA) even recommends pregnant and breastfeeding women and children to eat tilapia because it’s rich in protein, healthy omega-3s, iron, and contains more vitamin B and D than other foods. 

One ounce (28g) of cooked tilapia contains:

  • Calories: 35.8
  • Carbohydrate: 0g
  • Protein: 7.3g (15% of DV)
  • Total fat: 0.7g (1% of DV)
  • Vitamin B6: 2% of DV
  • Vitamin B12: 9% of DV
  • Niacin: 7% of DV
  • Potassium: 3% of DV
  • Phosphorus: 6% of DV
  • Sodium: 1% of DV
  • Selenium: 22% of DV

6. Sardines

Also an oily fish, these tiny, inexpensive sardines are one of the best fish to eat for good reasons. 

They’re highly nutritious foods, especially when eaten whole, including skin and bones — providing even more calcium and phosphorus.

It’s also one of the few foods that’s naturally high in vitamin D. 

Most sardines are canned, but their nutritional values are as high as fresh ones.

One can (92g, 3.2oz) of canned sardine in oil offers:

  • Calories: 191
  • Carbohydrate: 0g
  • Protein: 22.7g (45% of DV)
  • Total fat: 10.5g (16% of DV)
  • Vitamin D: 63% of DV
  • Vitamin B12: 137% of DV
  • Niacin: 24% of DV
  • Calcium: 35% of DV
  • Phosphorus: 45% of DV
  • Sodium: 19% of DV
  • Selenium: 69% of DV

7. Wild-caught Alaska pollock

This mild-flavored Alaskan white fish has consistently been one of the top 5 most consumed seafood species. 

Alaska Pollock owes its popularity to four reasons, 1) omega-3’s, 2) protein, 3) low fat, and 4) low mercury.

Usually, you’ll find pollock in fresh and frozen fish sticks, battered fish products, and surprisingly, the crabsticks you eat in sushi bars also contain Alaska pollock. 

One fillet (60g, 2.1oz) of cooked Alaska pollock contains:

  • Calories: 67.8
  • Carbohydrate: 0g
  • Protein: 14.1g (28% of DV)
  • Total fat: 0.7g (1% of DV)
  • Thiamin: 3% of DV
  • Vitamin B12: 42% of DV
  • Niacin: 5% of DV
  • Magnesium: 11% of DV
  • Phosphorus: 29% of DV
  • Sodium: 3% of DV
  • Selenium: 37% of DV

What Fish Should You Not Eat?

Now, you’ll get to know the flip side of the coin, fish that you should not eat. 

These fish are either high in mercury or contaminants that are unhealthy for you, endangered species, or caught or reared unethically.

Vote with your money. When you stop buying unhealthy foods, the food industry will stop making them.

— Eric Edmeades, trainer of Mindvalley’s WILDFIT Quest

When you stop buying these fish, fishers will stop fishing them. Eventually, endangered species will restore to normal levels, and fish farmers will be forced to rear or catch responsibly.

  1. Orange roughy: endangered
  2. Swordfish: high mercury fish
  3. Shark: high mercury fish, endangered
  4. King mackerel: high mercury fish
  5. Bigeye tuna: high mercury fish
  6. Mahi-mahi (imported, longline): caught irresponsibly
  7. Halibut (Atlantic): endangered
  8. Tilefish: high mercury fish
  9. Beluga Sturgeon (caviar): endangered
  10. Bluefin tuna: endangered

What Is the Most Popular Fish to Eat?

We should not only consider taste and price when buying fish, but also its safety level, environmental impact, and nutritional benefits. 

With that said, these are the top 10 most popular and the best-tasting fish:

  • Wild-caught Alaskan Salmon
  • Light tuna
  • Tilapia
  • Alaska pollock
  • Rainbow trout
  • Cod
  • Halibut
  • Catfish
  • Tuna
  • Pangasius

Awaken Your Greatness

Times are changing. Gone are the days where people consume foods based on price, taste, and appearance only. 

More and more people are waking up to the irresponsibility of fish farmers and the food industry. People are no longer just concerned for themselves but also deeply worried about the future of our planet. 

Knowing the best fish to eat is one step further towards healthier humanity and a more sustainable environment. 

Choose fish that are low in mercury, high in essential nutrients, and aren’t fished or farmed irresponsibly. You can make a difference in the fish industry.


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