What Are The Best Fish To Eat?

By THE MOST NUTRITIOUS AND SAFEST FISH Updated at 2017-06-07 07:16:11 +0000

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To determine the best fish, we compiled a list of popular seafood consumed in the U.S., and we left off endangered species like Atlantic bluefin tuna. Because essential omega-3s and lean protein are two of the most uniquely valuable nutrients provided by fish, we chose to rank the seafood based on these nutritional benefits over standard methods of calories or fat. We also used nutritional perks like selenium, vitamin B12, and vitamin D to break any ties. Using the USDA Nutrient Database, we calculated the omega-3 (DHA and EPA) and protein content of each raw fish for a standard size of 3 ounces. The rankings also factored in potentially toxic levels of mercury from the Environmental Defense Fund’s Seafood Hg (mercury) Database in ppb as well as the fish’s source—whether wild or farmed using questionable techniques. Read on to find out which fish are keepers and which you should throw back.


22 WILD EASTERN OYSTERS

Nutrition (per 3 oz serving): 43 calories, 1.4 g fat (0.4 g saturated fat), 71 mg sodium, 2.3 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 0.5 g sugar, 4.8 g protein
Protein (g per 3 oz): 4.8
Omega-3s (mg per 3 oz): 263
Mercury levels (parts per billion): 18

Compared to these oysters’ pacific cousins, their slightly smaller size means your omega-3 gain is significantly reduced. When looking for the best mollusk, examine their shells: Atlantic oysters have a smoother and rounder shell while Pacific oysters have a sharper and more rigid shell. Why? The Pacific ocean is much rougher than the Atlantic, so oysters hailing from this ocean form a tougher shell to protect themselves. Don’t throw these shells to the side just yet, though. Oysters have been found to be full of iron, and just 6 of these provide 21 percent of your recommended daily allowance. Good news since iron deficiencies have been linked to a significant increase in fat gene expression.

21 DUNGENESS CRAB

Nutrition (per 3 oz serving): 73 calories, 0.8 g fat (0.1 g saturated fat), 251 mg sodium, 0 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 14.8 g protein
Protein (g per 3 oz): 14.8
Omega-3s (mg per 3 oz): 261
Mercury levels (parts per billion): 120

Earning its name from a town in Washington where it’s found, Dungeness crabs live in the chilly Pacific waters on the West Coast. While not a top source of omega-3s per ounce, when it comes to serving size, a single crab is just under 6 ounces, so if you eat the whole thing, you’re looking at 28 grams of protein and 500 mg omega-3s per crab. Besides filling your belly, you can ease your mind knowing that Seafood Watch—one of the most popular sustainable seafood advisory lists—has given the crab a sustainable seafood rating of “Best Choice.”

20 PERCH

Nutrition (per 3 oz serving): 77 calories, 0.8 g fat (0.2 g saturated fat), 53 mg sodium, 0 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 16.5 g protein
Protein (g per 3 oz): 16.5
Omega-3s (mg per 3 oz): 215
Mercury levels (parts per billion): 141

Perch are a popular sport fish species because they put up a good fight. That fight certainly pays off with some good protein and healthy fats.

19 SKIPJACK TUNA

Nutrition (per 3 oz serving): 88 calories, 0.9 g fat (0.3 g saturated fat), 31 mg sodium, 0 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 18.7 g protein
Protein (g per 3 oz): 18.7
Omega-3s (mg per 3 oz): 217
Mercury levels (parts per billion): 198

Skipjack tuna is smaller than its yellowfin cousin, which helps it to soaks up fewer toxins. Even with its smaller size, it still has almost 200 ppb of mercury, so be mindful of the frequency of which you eat it—especially if you buy bulk-buying mecca Costco’s new sustainable (and affordable) skipjack tuna brand. What is sustainable tuna? It’s tuna that is FAD-free: fish aggregating devices (FADs) are large nets that can kill sharks, rays, and turtles that are caught along with the tuna.

18 BLACK SEA BASS

Nutrition (per 3 oz serving): 82 calories, 1.7 g fat (0.4 g saturated fat), 58 mg sodium, 0 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 15.7 g protein
Protein (g per 3 oz): 15.7
Omega-3s (mg per 3 oz): 506
Mercury levels (parts per billion): 120

This petite fish inhabits the eastern coast, from Maine to Florida. Besides finding it in restaurants, the black sea bass is also a popular recreational catch. Chilean sea bass, however, shouldn’t be consumed as often as its mercury levels are 357 ppb.

17 WILD STRIPED BASS

Nutrition (per 3 oz serving): 82 calories, 2 g fat (0.4 g saturated fat), 59 mg sodium, 0 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 15 g protein
Protein (g per 3 oz): 15
Omega-3s (mg per 3 oz): 641
Mercury levels (parts per billion): 295

Stripers are a long-lived species, and many live to over 30 years of age. Their long life may expose them to and influence their increased levels of mercury, which accounts for the 295 ppb. It’s also a reason for their large size—the world record for striped bass is over 81 pounds! And all that meat is packed with omega-3s and vitamin B12.

16 RED AND GRAY SNAPPER

Nutrition (per 3 oz serving): 85 calories, 1.1 g fat (0.2 g saturated fat), 54 mg sodium, 0 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 17.4 g protein
Protein (g per 3 oz): 17.4
Omega-3s (mg per 3 oz): 264
Mercury levels (parts per billion): 230

The Red Snapper is one of the Gulf of Mexico’s signature fish. For many commercial fishermen, it’s primarily where their profits come from. In fact, back in 2011, Gulf fishermen harvested 3.6 million pounds of red snapper that were valued at $11.4 million. We’re definitely on board with its popularity—the fish is a great source of lean protein to help build muscle, boost your metabolism, and increase feelings of fullness.

15 BLUE CRAB

Nutrition (per 3 oz serving): 74 calories, 0.9 g fat (0.2 g saturated fat), 249 mg sodium, 0 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 15.4 g protein
Protein (g per 3 oz): 15.4
Omega-3s (mg per 3 oz): 273
Mercury levels (parts per billion): 95

These blueclaws are found on the Atlantic coast, and will most certainly be the crab of choice if you ever visit a Maryland crab restaurant. You’ll have to eat four of the crustaceans to meet the 3-ounce serving, but we don’t think that’ll be too much of a problem if you belly up to an old-fashioned crab shack.

14 MUSSELS

Nutrition (per 3 oz serving): 73 calories, 1.9 g fat (0.4 g saturated fat), 243 mg sodium, 0 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 10.1 g protein
Protein (g per 3 oz): 10.1
Omega-3s (mg per 3 oz): 375
Mercury levels (parts per billion): 28

Farmed or wild, mussels are a great source of protein and omega-3s and a super source of vitamin B12 with 170 percent of your daily recommended intake per 3 ounces (which is equivalent to only five mussels—way fewer than you’ll get in any classic mussel dish). It turns out, farmed mussels are raised in an environmentally responsible manner that may actually improve the surrounding marine environment.

13 SQUID

Nutrition (per 3 oz serving): 78 calories, 1.2 g fat (0.3 g saturated fat), 37 mg sodium, 0 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 13.2 g protein
Protein (g per 3 oz): 13.2
Omega-3s (mg per 3 oz): 415
Mercury levels (parts per billion): 44

Technically, and quite surprisingly, a squid is a type of mollusk: the same family as mussels and clams. This is because squid used to have a shell just like these other shellfish, but over time, it was reduced down to a pen-like structure. Well, use that pen to write down squid (or calamari) on your grocery list. Squid is so high in omega-3s that it’s a source of omega-3 supplement oil.

12 WILD RAINBOW TROUT

Nutrition (per 3 oz serving): 101 calories, 2.9 g fat (0.6 g saturated fat), 26 mg sodium, 0 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 17.4 g protein
Protein (g per 3 oz): 17.4
Omega-3s (mg per 3 oz): 499
Mercury levels (parts per billion): 344

Following a rainbow can lead you to a pot of gold: a lean-protein and omega-3 pot of gold, that is. Because of moderate PCB contamination due to their lake habitats, the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) recommends kids limit consumption to two to three meals a month, depending on their age.

11 BLUEFISH

Nutrition (per 3 oz serving): 105 calories, 3.6 g fat (0.8 g saturated fat), 51 mg sodium, 0 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 17 g protein
Protein (g per 3 oz): 17
Omega-3s (mg per 3 oz): 655
Mercury levels (parts per billion): 350

These fish are strong and aggressive, which is why lifeguards are taught to remove swimmers from the water when they see any signs of bluefish feeding frenzies. During these frenzies, bluefish will continue to attack and eat anything in their way even after they’ve eaten their fill. This overeating is most likely the reason that bluefish have a fairly high mercury level. Because of the medium levels of mercury, be sure to consume this fish in moderation, but when you do, it’ll give you a great source of omega-3s and lean protein.

10 PACIFIC WILD OYSTERS

Nutrition (per 3 oz serving): 69 calories, 2 g fat (0.4 g saturated fat), 90 mg sodium, 4.2 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 8 g protein
Protein (g per 3 oz): 8
Omega-3s (mg per 3 oz): 584
Mercury levels (parts per billion): 39

While oysters’ protein per ounce may appear low at first, shuck a plate of just six of these pearl-yielding mollusks and your protein profit skyrockets to 28 grams along with 2,064 mg of omega-3s. Anti-inflammatory properties of omega-3s aren’t the only benefit of eating oysters. In fact, their high levels of zinc may help brighten your mood, but could also be the root of their well-known reputation as an aphrodisiac. A study in Nutrition found that six-months of zinc supplementation among slightly zinc-deficient elderly men doubled serum levels of testosterone—the hormone whose levels reflects libido.

9 SOCKEYE SALMON

Nutrition (per 3 oz serving): 111 calories, 4 g fat (0.7 g saturated fat), 66 mg sodium, 0 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 18.9 g protein
Protein (g per 3 oz): 6.3
Omega-3s (mg per 3 oz): 613
Mercury levels (parts per billion): 39

Sockeye salmon is much deeper in red than other salmon species because it noshes on krill, a type of small shrimp. Besides being a great source of omega-3s, a 3-ounce portion ranks as your seventh best source of vitamin D, with 112 percent of your recommended intake. This sun vitamin is rarely found in food but is important in warding off breast and prostate cancer as well as boosting heart health.

8 ATLANTIC HERRING

Nutrition (per 3 oz serving): 134 calories, 7.7 g fat (1.7 g saturated fat), 76 mg sodium, 0 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 15.3 g protein, 56% RDA Selenium, 484% RDA Vitamin B12
Protein (g per 3 oz): 15.3
Omega-3s (mg per 3 oz): 1,336
Mercury levels (parts per billion): 43

Herring is the superfood of the sea. Besides being one of this list’s top three sources of omega-3s per ounce, herring is also one of the best sources of vitamin B12—over 160 percent RDI per ounce—and vitamin D—11 percent RDI per ounce. When it comes to cooking, grill herring and dress with a mixture of mustard, lemon juice and its own oil for a dinner packed with protein and healthy fats. Serve with a side of sautéed kale and some quinoa to round out your plate.

7 EUROPEAN ANCHOVY

Nutrition (per 3 oz serving): 111 calories, 4.11 g fat (1.1 g saturated fat), 88 mg sodium, 0 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 17.3 g protein
Protein (g per 3 oz): 17.3
Omega-3s (mg per 3 oz): 1,231
Mercury levels (parts per billion): 103

You may already use it in your Caesar salad dressings, but anchovies’ omega-3 levels of five times your recommended daily intake might give you reason to find more ways to introduce this power food into your cooking arsenal.

6 SPINY LOBSTER

Nutrition (per 3 oz serving): 95 calories, 1.3 g fat (0.2 g saturated fat), 150 mg sodium, 0 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 17.5 g protein
Protein (g per 3 oz): 17.5
Omega-3s (mg per 3 oz): 317
Mercury levels (parts per billion): 100

This lobster lacks the terrifying claws characteristic of its Maine cousin but makes up for it in its abundance of protruding barbs. Typically found in warmer seas in the Caribbean and Mediterranean, their tails are packed with omega-3s, and the whole lobster provides 122 percent of your daily recommended vitamin B12, a vitamin unique to animal sources that facilitates proper nerve function.

5 ATLANTIC POLLOCK

Nutrition (per 3 oz serving): 78 calories, 0.8 g fat (0.1 g saturated fat), 73 mg sodium, 0 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 16.5 g protein
Protein (g per 3 oz): 16.5
Omega-3s (mg per 3 oz): 358
Mercury levels (parts per billion): 160

Despite their shared name, Atlantic pollock are larger and darker than the Alaskan pollock, which is actually a different species. Another big difference? The Atlantic fish has a much higher omega-3 content. It’s mild flavor and delicate texture makes it extremely versatile, so feel free to dress it up however you’d like!

4 CANNED SARDINES IN OIL

Nutrition (per 3 oz serving): 177 calories, 9.7 g fat (1.3 g saturated fat), 261 mg sodium, 0 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 21 g protein
Protein (g per 3 oz): 21
Omega-3s (mg per 3 oz): 835
Mercury levels (parts per billion): 79

The smaller the fish, the smaller the amount of mercury. These tiny fish typically come from the Pacific. Despite their diminutive size, they pack a nutritional punch (which is why they’re one of the 8 Superfoods You Need To Know Now. A mere 3 ounces provides 12 percent your recommended daily intake of vitamin D and 64 percent of selenium, a mineral that plays a key role in metabolism, immunity, and reproductive health. Canned versions are known to be high in sodium, so be sure to consume them in moderation or look for low-sodium canned versions.

3 ATLANTIC & PACIFIC HALIBUT

Nutrition (per 3 oz serving): 186 calories, 2.7 g fat (0.6 g saturated fat), 139 mg sodium, 0 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 37.9 g protein
Protein (g per 3 oz): 37.9
Omega-3s (mg per 3 oz): 396 (0.135 + 0.261
Mercury levels (parts per billion): 261

This meaty white fish’s mild flavor makes it immensely versatile. Besides being low-cal, it’s also filling—making it a great weight-loss food. According to “The Satiety Index of Common Foods,” published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, halibut ranks the second most filling food—bested only by boiled potatoes. Study authors attribute the filling factor of white fish like halibut to its impressive protein content and influence on serotonin, one of the key hormones responsible for regulating appetite. Try eating more Pacific than Atlantic fish since the Atlantic halibut is low in numbers.

2 PINK SALMON

Nutrition (per 3 oz serving): 108 calories, 3.5 g fat (0.7 g saturated fat), 64 mg sodium, 0 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 17.4 g protein
Protein (g per 3 oz): 17.4
Omega-3s (mg per 3 oz): 438
Mercury levels (parts per billion): 37

Pink salmon, also known as humpback salmon because of male’s distinctive humpback that occurs during their spawning phase, is native to the cold waters of the Pacific and Arctic Oceans. If eating muscle-building protein and heart-healthy omega-3 levels isn’t for you, you can also chow down on this fish’s roe, which is a common source for caviar.

1 ATLANTIC MACKEREL

Nutrition (per 3 oz serving): 174 calories, 11.8 g fat (2.8 g saturated fat), 76 mg sodium, 0 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 0 g sugar, 15.8 g protein
Protein (g per 3 oz): 15.8
Omega-3s (mg per 3 oz): 1,954
Mercury levels (parts per billion): 45

Listed on Seafood Watch’s “Super Green List,” this fish is a triple threat: it’s low in mercury, provides almost eight times the recommended omega-3 intake per day, and is classified as a Seafood Watch “Best Choice” in terms of sustainability. Just watch out for canned mackerel, which can have mercury levels up to 586 ppb.

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