First, we were urged to replace artery-clogging red meat with heart-healthy fish. And we did, opting for a thick fillet of tilapia a la Mediterranean diet while reluctantly turning down the succulent rack of lamb (sigh). Now, it appears that some kinds of fish are healthier than others, and protein-rich tilapia—especially farm-raised—is lowest on the totem pole.
Going to the market just got a whole lot trickier. To simplify your shopping experience, we’ve fished out what you need to know to prepare a dinner that’s both delicious and healthy.
Eat This, Not That
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), the healthiest fish are salmon, mackerel, herring, lake trout, sardines and albacore tuna.
Salmon contains more than 10 times more omega-3 (2,000 milligrams per serving) than tilapia, which has just 135 milligrams. Any variation of salmon will do, so take your pick of king, chum, coho, pink, sockeye and even canned Chinook.
Not a salmon lover? Try a mild piece of Pacific halibut (429 mg), Atlantic mackerel (982 mg) or black cod (1,544 mg).
F for Farm-Raised
Wild fish tend to nosh on algae and other aquatic plants, providing them with the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA. Farmed fish like tilapia and most of the salmon on supermarket shelves, on the other hand, are fed corn and soy, depriving them—and you—of these essential fatty acids.
Omega-3 is much more than a natural anti-inflammatory agent that controls brain function and blood pressure; it also softens your skin, clears your eyesight and strengthens your heart.
Pound for Pound
The AHA recommends eating at least two 3.5 ounce servings of fish a week. When serving a family of five, round up and request a pound and a half of fish. Women who are pregnant should limit their intake to 12 ounces a week or six ounces of canned tuna, and avoid fish with high levels of mercury, like swordfish.
A note: Don’t salt, dry or fry your meal, as these preparations reduce the amount of healthy nutrients on your plate.