Healthy Seafood Guide

How to Choose the Safest, Healthiest, and Most Sustainable Seafood

Buying fish and shellfish can be strangely complicated. Here's a guide to choosing the safest and most nutritious seafood next time you hit the counter.

Your healthy seafood guide

Picking out fish can be a simple enough task but unfortunately grabbing a fresh looking cut or some frozen shrimp may have you wondering whether it has Mercury and how much? What is its country of origin? Is it being overfished? And now possibly am I even getting the right fish?

Types Of Tuna

Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles at Loyola Marymount recently performed DNA tests on sushi from 26 Los Angeles restaurants and found that 47% of it was mislabeled. Yellowfin tuna ended up being bigeye tuna and red snapper and how the orders were mislabeled 100% of the time with the halibut actually turning out to be flounder. The year of sampling of seafood from grocery stores shows similar rates of mislabeling which suggests that the fish while could be occurring earlier in the selling process. What this means is that you're overpaying in getting a less safe catch. Bigeye tuna, for example is higher in mercury and yellowfin tuna.

To make sure you enjoy that sushi roll or the grilled salmon steak here is a primer to safe seafood.

What to know about mercury and farmed versus fresh

Mercury is a health concern and in excess can cause neurological issues. But keep in mind that all fish contains traces of this metal since it's in our water, it just comes down to the amount that you're getting.

One rule of thumb is that if a fish is bigger than you, it probably has a lot of Mercury. The larger the fish like swordfish and tuna, the more little fish they eat which drives up the mercury levels. But there are plenty of safe, low mercury seafood picks.

Mercury In Fish

The way fishes raising caught can also have health implications. You would think that wild caught would always be the way to go but that is not the case. While there is concern about the use of chemicals, overcrowding and diseased with farm fish, farming tanks can be healthy and eco-friendly. It doesn't mean bad or unsafe or dirty, as some farms are green and sustainable while others are not.

Despite the headlines, we should be eating more seafood and fish and shellfish are high quality proteins, low in saturated fat and calories and packed with nutrients.

Three signs you shouldn't buy that fish

The deal is too good to be true. This is a tipoff that the fish is mislabeled. Wild caught fish is always more expensive than farmed fish. If it's going to be sold at a discount, it's highly unlikely that you're getting wild caught fish.

You don't know where it's from. Look for the country of origin on the packaging. Selected seafood from the United States tends to be safer. This label is mandatory on fresh and frozen fishing grocery stores but not in small fish markets.

The label lists preservatives. You don't want any other ingredients like sodium try polyphosphate that affects seafood. Scallops are a poster child for this. If there is any milky liquid in the tray, it's usually been soaked in a preservative.