Fish is an amazing food to eat. With numerous varieties, sizes and cooking methods to choose from, we’re not short of options. But do all fish varieties give us the same health benefits or are some better than others? We’ll explore how to choose the healthiest type of fish for you and your family.
The Reason Why Fish May Not Be a Healthy Option
For years we’ve known that the omega-3 and lean proteins in our fish are good for our bodies. Fish are low in saturated fats and sodium, as well as providing us with a good source of calcium. The problem is though that our fish supplies are now having manmade chemicals introduced into them. The heavy metal mercury is of particular concern.
Mercury enters our waters where bacteria transform it into methyl mercury. It is methyl mercury which we absorb very easily and are we also suffer far too easily from it’s effects. Methyl mercury gets into our fish by working it’s way up the food chain. Large fish eat smaller fish and the mercury accumulates in their bodies. We eat the contaminated fish and it begins to interfere with our brain and nervous system.
Then there are problems with farmed fish. During their lifespan in a fish farm, they are potentially exposed to antibiotics, PCBs and artificial reproductive hormones. When we eat the fish, we too are exposed to these chemicals too.
How to Choose the Healthiest Type of Fish to Eat
It turns out that the smaller the fish, the less nasties it has inside its body. Sardines have been given the label as one of the healthiest fish because:
- They are young, living on average three to four years, even though they can live to 16
- Contain minimal mercury
- Sardines are wild, not farmed
- Sardines are at the bottom of the food chain, consuming less mercury
- They are fished sustainably
- Sardines have a high production rate and are abundant locally
Other fish species which contain low levels of mercury are herring, scallops, shrimp, squid, oyster, sole, anchovies and flounder. It’s best to avoid mackerel, swordfish and Bigeye and Ahi tuna.
Which is Best: Tinned or Fresh Fish?
In terms of mercury levels, both tinned and fresh fish can have high mercury levels. But for healthy options, fresh is always going to be best as there would be no added ingredients such as oil and flavourings. How about trying our recipe for Steamed Fish with Turmeric & Ginger? We’re sure you’ll love it!