If you favor fish in your diet for its health-boosting omega-3’s, you need to take a hard look at where your fillets come from before you choose them. New research from the Wake Forest University School of Medicine indicates that certain types of farm-raised fish, like tilapia and catfish, contain a disproportionate amount of omega-6 fatty acids, which can promote inflammatory and autoimmune diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, and osteoporosis.
Fish is a heart-healthy food.
Fish is a heart-healthy food and many studies show that people who eat fish regularly have a lower risk of heart attacks, strokes, and death from heart disease. Adding fish to your diet provides a great source of important vitamins and minerals which our bodies do not produce on their own. In fact, fish are among the best dietary sources of vitamin D, which plays a crucial role in fighting fatigue, moodiness and boosting our immune system.
Researchers studied 30 of the most commonly eaten fish and their fatty-acid composition. Tilapia, the fifth most consumed seafood in the US, has more omega-6’s than bacon or doughnuts. While farm-raised salmon and trout had healthy fatty acid ratios that far surpassed most wild fish, independent laboratory reports have shown that farmed salmon (but not trout) can contain high levels of contaminants like carcinogenic PCB’s. To help you wade through these murky waters, here’s a list of the fish with the best omega-3 to omega-6 ratio that have also been found to be low in mercury and contaminants like PCB’s.
(But go easy because of the environmental damages caused by over fishing.)
- Coho salmon
- Copper River salmon
- Sockeye salmon
- Pacific cod
- Alaskan halibut
Farmed & Dangerous
- Farmed tilapia
- Farmed catfish
Adding seafood to your diet provides many health benefits. Fish are a lean, healthy source of protein and the oily kinds, such as salmon, tuna, sardines, etc., deliver those heart- and brain-healthy omega-3 fats you’ve probably also heard you should be getting in your diet. Studies also show that people who eat fish every week have more gray matter (the brain’s major functional tissue) in the parts of the brain that regulate emotion and memory.
Unfortunately, fewer than one in five Americans heeds that advice. About one-third of Americans eat seafood once a week, while nearly half eat fish only occasionally or not at all. Although some people may simply not like fish, the generally low consumption is likely also caused by other factors, including perceptions about cost, access to stores that sell fish, and uncertainty about how to prepare or cook fish. Still others may avoid seafood because they worry that they (or their children) will be harmed by mercury, pesticide residues, or other possible toxins that are in some types of fish.
Sustainably caught seafood can be enjoyed all year long as part of a delicious, nutritious, and convenient snack, lunch, dinner, and even breakfast. Sustainable seafood is harvested in an environmentally safe manner with the least amount of impact on the ocean ecosystems and surrounding wildlife. Fish can be an important safe part of a healthy diet.