Like raisins, raw tomatoes and cilantro, fish is one of those polarizing foods — there are the lovers, and then there are “not a fish person” people who make an involuntary gross-out face when you suggest a seafood restaurant.
Fair enough, but if you've got a hater in your family, there's a decent chance that simply haven't met their BFF (Best Fish Friend) yet. Many don't taste at all "fishy" points out Valerie Agyeman, RD, a women’s health dietitian and founder of Flourish Heights virtual nutritional counseling service. Incorporating a mild fish into pasta, pizza or tacos can open picky eater's minds. "I find that adding seafood to favorite foods is always a great idea," says Agyeman.
And it's worth experimenting, because fish “is packed with vitamins and nutrients that can lower blood pressure and help reduce the risk of a heart attack or stroke,” says Grace Derocha, RD, CDCES, MBA, a national spokesperson for The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. These include omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins D and riboflavin, calcium, iron, zinc, magnesium and potassium. Never mind that health orgs such as the American Heart Association recommend that we eat fish twice to three times a week, adds Agyeman. “Fish is a high-quality, lean protein to add to your eating routine for healthy muscles, bones, tissue and skin,” she says.
That said, some folks nix fish because of concerns about sustainability, or a fear of consuming mercury, a neurotoxin that are especially bad for pregnant women and young children, which can be an issue in larger fish. Most types of commonly sold fish are healthy to eat a few times a week, however. "It’s always best to look for sustainable seafood certifications, including MSC, ASC or Fair Trade USA to ensure a safe, healthy and accountable seafood supply,” says Agyeman. You can also check out Seafood Watch for seafood recs based on sustainability standards, Derocha adds.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says women who are or might become pregnant, breastfeeding mothers, as well as young children should avoid:
- King mackerel
- Orange roughy
- Tilefish (Gulf of Mexico)
- Tuna, Bigeye
Inspired? Check out these 15 super-health fish options to work into your rotation. (These are in no particular order — what’s healthiest for you depends on what your body needs and what the rest of your diet looks like; where mercury is a concern, you'll see how to reduce your exposure.)
Salmon is the prom queen of fish — that is, super popular. The fat in salmon (especially wild-caught salmon) is the “good” kind, and has lots of calcium and vitamin D, says DeRocha. “This is because wild caught salmon is found in its natural habitat and hence is less exposed to contaminants and processed fish food,” she says. The National Institutes of Health recommend that men consume 1.6 grams and women consume 1.1 grams of omega-3s daily, and one 3-ounce has more than enough. Alaskan Chinook (or King) salmon, Coho salmon and sockeye salmon are three wild salmon species rated the highest in omega-3s.
2. TUNA (Skipjack)
You can’t beat tuna for everyday convenience: Rip open a pouch or a single-serve can and toss it in your salad for a quickie lunch. “Tuna is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, and selenium — a mineral that acts as a powerful antioxidant in the body,” says Agyeman. “Antioxidants protect the body from oxidative stress and damage to your cells.” Don’t let tuna be your only fish, however, because most species have a high mercury content, points out Derocha. In general, bigger varieties (of any fish) contain more, and when it comes to tuna, that means going easy on yellowfin, ahi tuna and albacore. “Instead, opt for smaller species like the skipjack, which is the chunk light tuna in a can,” she says.
3. PACIFIC COD
Cod is a great fish to serve to newbies, says Derocha. “It has a milder flavor that picky eaters and kids could enjoy.” It’s so universally loved that it’s often used in fish and chips (yum!), and when grilled or baked, cod is low in fat and naturally rich in protein.
Sardines are not a good starter fish, because, well, they're "fishy." These little buggers have a strong taste, but they are excellent for you, says Agyeman. “Sardines have tiny, edible bones that provide a great dairy-free source of calcium,” she says, and have iron and selenium as well. “Sardines and crackers are one of my favorite midday snacks to keep me feeling satiated and get an energy boost.” They’re also good over pasta in tomato sauce, or with lemon and garlic.
“Halibut is a firm, white fish with a rather mild flavor,” says Derocha, and so one that’s kid friendly (try it grilled or using it for fish sticks). It’s a good source of selenium, phosphorus, magnesium, and vitamins B6 and B12. It does have more mercury than other options, though, which is why the FDA lists it as only a "good," once-a-week choice, rather than a "best" two-to-three times option.
“Because it’s also called 'dolphin fish,' it’s sometimes confused with the mammal dolphin, but don’t worry, they’re completely different,” says Derocha. A tropical firm fish (mahi-mahi means “strong” in Hawaiian,) it can hold up to almost any preparation without falling apart, says Derocha. It's also a good once-a-week choice.
7. UNAGI (A.K.A. EEL)
Unagi is much-loved in Japan, and loaded with vitamins and minerals, protein and other key nutrients. “Unagi is also believed to have the highest amount of unsaturated fatty acids than any other sea creature — the omega-3 fatty acid in unagi could help improve blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and help maintain bone health,” says Derocha. “This and vitamin A are believed to reduce wrinkles and keep the skin supple as well.” Look for Japanese unagi, rather than American.
As if you needed an excuse to test whether this shellfish is, in fact, an aphrodisiac! Oysters are not for beginners, but the salty, slimy slurp is a treat that have regulars racing to the raw bar. “Oysters contain a rich amount of zinc, which supports your body’s ability to fight off colds, viruses, and other icky bugs that make you sick,” says Agyeman. Or try cooking them, says Derocha, perhaps in a stew. They are also great for the environment. “The shells are an excellent source of calcium, which when used in the garden can help build strong plant barks as well as balance the soil pH,” she adds.
These silvery fish are not only affordable and full of omega-3s, but herring has minimal mercury content, making it one of the cleanest and safest ocean fish to eat, says Derocha. “Herring is an excellent source of vitamin D — for people who don't get enough sunlight, herring could be an ideal solution to keep your body at recommended levels of vitamin D.”
Shrimp belong in your tacos, any day of the week. Okay, it is not a fish so much as a crustacean, but “shrimp is high in protein and has a light flavor that kids and adults can enjoy any time of day,” says Agyeman. “It’s also a great source of iodine and selenium, which supports a healthy thyroid and proper metabolism.” While not as high in omega-3 fatty acids as some other choices, they are low in mercury and calories and high in protein.
These shellfish have a pleasing texture and delicate flavor. Once shucked (which is how scallops are usually sold), they are simple to prepare, says Derocha. “Just be careful not to overcook them, which is easy to do—all it takes is a quick sear in a super-hot pan for them to be cooked to perfection.” Low in mercury, they’re ranked as sustainable in a variety of wild and farmed varieties, she adds. They're also one option that is good for picky eaters, says Agyeman.
“Tilapia gets a bad rep as a bottom feeder, but it's actually a good seafood choice,” says Derocha. It’s inexpensive, and it’s plentiful: the fourth most popular fish eaten in the United States behind tuna, salmon, and Pollock, she says. Rich in vitamin B-12, niacin, phosphorous, potassium, it’s nice and mild, so the seafood-averse might just take to it, she adds. “Tilapia is the boneless, skinless chicken breast of the sea—it has almost a neutral flavor,” she says.
Agyeman favors these shellfish for their abundance of vitamin B-12, essential for healthy blood cells, nerves and brain function, she says. Derocha agrees. “One of the best benefits of clams is that their proteins provide several essential amino acids. These are amino acids that the human body cannot make, and therefore must be obtained from dietary sources. A serving of clams provides over 100 % of the recommended daily intake of 11 different amino acids,” including all nine essential ones.
It has a fancy reputation, but there’s no need to save it for special occasions. “Depending on the variety, crab ranges from 80 to 100 calories per three-ounce serving and offers up 16 to 20 grams of protein, plus 350 to 400 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids,” she says. As far as sustainability goes, the Seafood Watchlist lists Alaskan crab as a “best choice.”
15. WILD ALASKAN POLLOCK
Alaskan Pollock is always wild-caught in the northern Pacific Ocean and because of its mild flavor and light texture, it’s the most-used type in fish sticks and other battered fish products that kids love. It’s also one of the more affordable, says Derocha, and naturally adopts the flavors of marinades and spices, so is good in lots of dishes. “But the shining star of Alaska Pollock is the omega-3s that it provides—between 50-1,000 milligrams of omega 3s per serving,” she adds.
Stephanie (she/her) is the deputy director of the Hearst Health Newsroom, where she writes, edits and otherwise creates health content for Good Housekeeping, Prevention and other Hearst titles. She has covered women's physical and emotional health, nutrition, sexuality and the multitudes of topics they contain for national publications for decades, and she is also a bestselling author, a mom of twins, a dog mom and an intuitive eater in progress.
What is the best fish to eat everyday? ›
- Salmon. Salmon is versatile and one of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acid, which is essential as the body cannot make it on its own so it must be obtained through food. ...
- Mackerel. ...
- Cod. ...
- Trout. ...
- Sardines. ...
- Crab. ...
- Haddock. ...
What is the healthiest fish to eat? The best choices for you and the planet. Salmon are a great source of omega-3s.Which fish have the most health benefits and why? ›
The healthiest types of fish include those high in omega-3 fatty acids and have lower levels of mercury contamination, like Alaskan salmon. Fish is a healthy, high-protein food, especially important for its omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential fats that our bodies don't produce on their own.What fish is most heart healthy? ›
Good omega-3-rich fish options include:
- Atlantic mackerel.
- Lake trout.
- Canned, light tuna.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans states that to consume those higher amounts, children should only be fed fish from the “Best Choices” list that are even lower in mercury – these fish are anchovies, Atlantic mackerel, catfish, clams, crab, crawfish, flounder, haddock, mullet, oysters, plaice, pollock, salmon, ...What is the most unhealthy fish to eat? ›
- Imported swordfish.
- Imported marlin.
Omega-3 fatty acids are found in every kind of fish, but are especially high in fatty fish. Some good choices are salmon, trout, sardines, herring, canned mackerel, canned light tuna, and oysters.What fish should you not eat a lot of? ›
Are you aware that four fish have been designated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ( USDA ) and Environmental Protection Agency ( EPA ) to be unsafe to eat due to their typically high levels of mercury? Making the “do not eat” list are King Mackerel, Shark, Swordfish and Tilefish.Which canned fish healthy? ›
Canned salmon, tuna, sardines, kippered herring, and other types of fish are pretty much on a par with fresh fish. They give you as much heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids as fresh fish, and sometimes more. These essential oils help prevent potentially deadly heart rhythms.What fish has the most protein? ›
Tuna. Fresh tuna has the most protein per gram of any of the seafood on this list. With 30.7g of protein in a 100-gram serving, fresh tuna has the most protein by weight and is at the top of the list of commercially available, high-protein fish.
What is the most eaten fish in the world? ›
We can measure the most abundantly consumed species in two different ways; by volume or by value. By value salmon is the largest single fish commodity in the world and by volume or weight it is tuna.What is the safest white fish to eat? ›
HERRING. These silvery fish are not only affordable and full of omega-3s, but herring has minimal mercury content, making it one of the cleanest and safest ocean fish to eat, says Derocha.Which fish is good for cholesterol? ›
Shrimp is very nutritious. It's fairly low in calories and provides a high amount of protein and healthy fats, as well as a variety of vitamins and minerals.Which nuts are best for heart health? ›
Almonds, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts and pecans also appear to be quite heart healthy. So are peanuts — though they are technically not a nut, but a legume, like beans. It's best to choose unsalted or unsweetened nuts. Adding salt or sugar to nuts may cancel out their heart-healthy benefits.What fish is not good for high blood pressure? ›
Higher mercury levels are found in shark, tuna, swordfish and king mackerel.Are canned sardines healthy? ›
Sardines are a type of small, oily fish that contain a lot of important nutrients. Both fresh and canned sardines have health benefits, including helping to fight inflammation and supporting the health of your heart, bones, and immune system.What canned fish has no mercury? ›
Five of the most commonly eaten fish that are low in mercury are shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon, pollock, and catfish. Another commonly eaten fish, albacore ("white") tuna, has more mercury than canned light tuna.Which seafood has no mercury? ›
Small or short-lived species, such as sardines, shrimp, crab and tilapia, generally have low amounts of mercury. Wild salmon, which eat plankton and small fish, are low in mercury, as are farm-raised salmon, which are fed fish meal containing little mercury.What fish had the most mercury? ›
Overall, larger and longer-lived fish tend to contain the most mercury ( 4 ). These include shark, swordfish, fresh tuna, marlin, king mackerel, tilefish from the Gulf of Mexico, and northern pike ( 5 ). Larger fish tend to eat many smaller fish, which contain small amounts of mercury.
What is the most toxic fish in the world? ›
Puffer fish are the most poisonous fish in the world.Which fish has the least toxins? ›
Smaller fish—sardines, anchovies, farmed trout, fresh tilapia, arctic char—and bivalves such as scallops, clams, and oysters don't build up as many contaminants as do the large carnivores.Why shouldn't you eat tilapia? ›
However, before you stock up on tilapia, you may want to know about its correlation to inflammation. Recent studies have concluded that eating tilapia may worsen inflammation that can lead to heart disease, arthritis, asthma and a world of other serious health problems.How many times a week should you eat fish? ›
A healthy, balanced diet should include at least 2 portions of fish a week, including 1 of oily fish. That's because fish and shellfish are good sources of many vitamins and minerals.Is it good to eat fish every day? ›
But is it safe to eat fish every day? “For most individuals it's fine to eat fish every day,” says Eric Rimm, professor of epidemiology and nutrition, in an August 30, 2015 article on Today.com, adding that “it's certainly better to eat fish every day than to eat beef every day.”Is canned tuna a superfood? ›
Tuna, a firm-fleshed fish that's available in budget-friendly cans to high-end sushi, is also a superfood. From a nutritional standpoint, tuna is a treasure-trove, containing plenty of protein, vitamins, and healthy fats.Is it OK to eat shrimp every day? ›
Is it okay to eat shrimp every day? A. Doctors now consider it safe for most people to consume shrimp daily, irrespective of their cholesterol levels. In moderation, shrimp consumption can provide many essential nutrients.Can I eat salmon everyday? ›
Generally speaking, eating salmon every day is not always recommended, unless you eat small amounts. “The 2020–2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that people consume 8 to 10 ounces of seafood per week, especially fish that are lower in mercury, which would include salmon,” says Pike.What is the most unhealthy fish? ›
- Imported swordfish.
- Imported marlin.
Herring also boasts more omega-3 fatty acids than either salmon or tuna, which are essential to human health since our bodies can't make these fats. Herring contains less mercury than other omega-3-rich fish you may be eating, like tuna, king mackerel, swordfish and halibut.
What fish has killed the most humans? ›
Although the great white shark, tiger sharks, and bull sharks have far more recorded attacks on humans, the oceanic whitetip is generally believed to have killed the most people.Which seafood has the highest protein? ›
Fresh tuna has the most protein per gram of any of the seafood on this list. With 30.7g of protein in a 100-gram serving, fresh tuna has the most protein by weight and is at the top of the list of commercially available, high-protein fish.What fish is lowest in heavy metals? ›
According to the US Environmental Protection Agency or EPA, “best choices” for fish with low levels of mercury (< 0.15 mcg/g) include salmon (especially wild Alaskan), black cod, haddock, sardines, flounder, shrimp, scallops, catfish and canned light tuna - which are good sources for health-protective omega-3 fatty ...What fish Are you not supposed to eat a lot of? ›
Are you aware that four fish have been designated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ( USDA ) and Environmental Protection Agency ( EPA ) to be unsafe to eat due to their typically high levels of mercury? Making the “do not eat” list are King Mackerel, Shark, Swordfish and Tilefish.Which fish has the highest mercury? ›
- orange roughy.
- southern bluefin tuna.
For example, walnuts contain high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. Almonds, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts and pecans also appear to be quite heart healthy.Do cardiologists recommend fish oil? ›
Expert Analysis. All individuals should aim to consume approximately 2 servings of fatty fish per week as part of a heart-healthy diet. Routine use of non-prescription fish oil is not recommended for primary or secondary prevention of CVD.Does fish oil reduce plaque in arteries? ›
In summary, fish oil may reduce atherosclerosis by activating numerous nuclear receptors including PPAR-alpha and PPAR-gamma, by inhibiting the infiltration of macrophages and as the release of MMPs, and by preventing the weakening and rupturing of atherosclerotic plaque.