Top 3 Best Fish vs. Worst Fish to Eat: Thomas DeLauer
Go Fish for Better Nutrition
Some people steer clear of fish because they aren't sure of how to cook it and don't know about all of its diet benefits. Here's help to get over any fish phobia.
By Eric Metcalf, MPH
Medically Reviewed by Pat F. Bass III, MD, MPH
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Making room in your meals for more fish can provide many health benefits and add variety to your diet.
For starters, fish in general is a lean source of protein, says Cheryl Forberg, RD, a professional chef and author in Napa, Calif., and the nutritionist for the television showThe Biggest Loser. A three-ounce hamburger made of 95 percent lean beef contains 2.5 grams of saturated fat, the kind you should limit in your diet due to its cholesterol-raising effects. Three ounces of canned salmon, on the other hand, contains about half that amount.
In addition, some fish are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids, fats that are actually good for your health. Salmon as well as albacore tuna, mackerel, and sardines are high in omega-3s. According to the American Heart Association, getting more omega-3 fatty acids in your diet may reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. Omega-3s may help inhibit the growth of plaque in your arteries and help keep your heart beating in its normal rhythm. As a result, the AHA recommends that people eat fish, especially these kinds of fish, at least twice a week.
Fish for Diet Variety
Aside from all its nutrition benefits, fish can make your meals more interesting. Many people are limiting red meat, and chicken can get boring if that’s your only lean protein source. The wide variety of fish available and the many ways it can be prepared mean you’ll never be bored. Putting fish in tacos is popular these days, and even leftover fish can put pizzazz in your meals. "It's wonderful to add crumbled salmon or sole to a salad the next day," says Forberg.
She offers the following suggestions for getting the most nutrition from fish:
- Use low-fat cooking styles.Skip the greasy fried fish, and stick with cooking methods that don't require additional fat. Try steaming, baking, broiling, grilling, or poaching fish. Baking the fish in parchment paper holds in the juices and keeps it moist.
- Add some salsa.Topping your fish with a tomato- or fruit-based salsa is a tasty way to add another serving of vegetable or fruit to your diet.
- Remember canned salmon.When you're shopping for fish, check the canned aisle in the supermarket, too. Canned salmon usually contains wild fish, which is safer to eat. Although canned salmon has a slightly different texture than fresh, it's great in dips, mousses, or spreads.
Fish Shopping Tips
There are a few health cautions about fish. Young children and women who are pregnant or nursing or might become pregnant should avoid shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish due to their higher levels of mercury. Safer choices, in terms of mercury, include canned light tuna, salmon, and pollock. Research has found that certain contaminants linked to cancer risk were often more concentrated in farmed salmon than wild salmon; as a result, you should limit your consumption of farmed salmon, some experts say. In addition, when shopping for fresh fish, remember that whole fish should not have a "fishy" odor. Fillets or steaks should be firm and moist, and also free of a strong scent. Frozen fish should be frozen hard, without freezer burn or ice crystals.
If you’ve been hesitant about eating more fish, now is the time to take the plunge.
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