Nutritious vs Harmful: Understanding the Top Fishes

salmon meal

There are many different species of fish, which can make it difficult to understand how to maximize the nutritional value of your food. However, you’re encouraged to consume fish as part of a healthy diet. Nutritionists advise a weekly intake of around 8 ounces of seafood. According to studies, the average income in the United States is just a third of what it should be.

Fish is also a good source of protein since it’s low in fat, and oily fish like salmon, tuna, and sardines include heart- and brain-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Too much of anything, however, particularly the bad kind, can be harmful to your health. 

To help you eat with confidence, it’s essential to know that you’re consuming only the healthiest options when it comes to fish. Here’s a quick guide to help you out: 

The Nutritious Fishes

1. Herring

For a good reason, herring is a mainstay of the Nordic diet—it contains more omega-3 fatty acids than sardines, trout, or mackerel. Selenium and vitamin D are abundant in this fish. The most common way to order herring in restaurants is canned, cured, or smoked, although you may also order it fresh.

According to Seafood Watch, purchasing Atlantic herring harvested using purse seines or set gill nets in California is preferable to buying herring from other countries. If you haven’t already, the local fishmonger will be able to tell you where your fish comes from and how it was raised.

2. Wild-Caught Alaskan Salmon

Alaskan wild salmon is free of pollutants like mercury and lead since they are taken in well-managed fisheries. 

Consider this to get a sense of how well-managed the Alaskan salmon fisheries are: Scientists measure the number of wild fish returning to spawn at river mouths. Fisheries are stopped before they reach their limitations if the population starts to decline, as happened recently with certain Chinook fisheries. 

These tight limits and water quality control, coupled with constant monitoring, make Alaska’s wild-caught salmon both healthier (they contain about 1,500 mg of omega-3s per serving and carry very few pollutants) and more sustainable than any other salmon fishery.

3. Rainbow Trout

Rainbow trout (also known as steelhead trout) is one of the most delicate fish to eat, farmed in the United States or indoor recirculating tanks. With a higher omega-3 content than canned pink salmon, trout is an excellent source of potassium, selenium, and vitamin B6, while also providing more than a day’s worth of vitamin B12 in a single serving.

When it’s caught in the proper locations, lake trout is an excellent substitute for salmon. Lake trout taken in Minnesota’s waters of Lake Superior is recommended by Seafood Watch.

The Harmful Ones

Several environmental groups have also argued that people should avoid eating a lot of fish. Because of health concerns, these fishes have been placed on the Environmental Defense Fund’s (EDF) watch list.

1. Orange Roughy

Overfishing is a problem since this fish has a long lifespan but reproduces slowly. Orange Roughy has been known to live 100 years or more. As a result of the high mercury content, EDF has issued a health warning to the public.

2. Bluefin Tuna

Bluefin tuna has been listed as an endangered species by the World Wildlife Fund, and Seafood Watch has issued a warning about the dwindling numbers of these fish due to overfishing. EDF advises against eating more than one serving of bluefin per month because of its high mercury and PCB content.

3. Mahi-Mahi

The Environmental Defense Fund considers imported longline mahi-mahi, also known as dolphinfish, one of the most environmentally harmful fish available. 

When mahi-mahi is fished, there is the worry that bycatch, such as sea turtles, seabirds, and sharks, may get entangled in the fishing gear. Seafood Watch rates mahi-mahi caught using troll lines in the United States and Ecuador as a Good Alternative and recommends it if you’re craving this specific fish.


Fish is an excellent source of vital fats like omega-3 fatty acids, which our bodies cannot generate on their own. It is also a high-protein meal, but not all varieties can be suitable for too much consumption. It’s important to know which to avoid and which to consume, so make sure to keep this guide in mind as you work on being healthier!

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