Since I grew up on the beaches of Rhode Island and I have been a lifelong sailor, my diet has been pescatarian (fish eating) my entire life. There are many health benefits of such a diet when fish serves as the main protein source in an otherwise Mediterranean diet.
In the articles I’ve collected for you below, I’ll share the latest research on the best fish – as well as the worst fish – to eat. Preparing fish for consumption is truly an artform of an infinite number of preparations, sauces, and cooking methods. Although “grilling” is popular, there is data that such charring creates carcinogens in the firm of “polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons”(HCAs) Marinating reduces HCAs and reducing the time and amount of charring is also a good practice.
Finally, just a note on the debate over whether or not fish feel pain. As much as I love seafood, the answer to that question is a resounding yes. To be sure this raises ethical and animal welfare issues including the consequences of exposure to toxins, commercial and recreational fishing, aquaculture, genetic modification of fish for both food and research. These are formidable issues that need to be addressed and we need to be conscious and thankful for every fish that we consume since that life has been sacrificed for our consumption.
Don’t have time to read all these articles? Here’s a brief synopsis:
First of all … any fish needs to be deep, cold water, wild varieties that are not endangered and preferably line caught.
- Fatty fish such salmon, trout, sardines, tuna, halibut, and mackerel are very high in vitamin D (a fat soluble vitamin), and omega 3 fatty acids which are optimal for the brain and heart.
- Large studies have demonstrated that eating fish 2 to 3 times per week lowers the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
- Lower mercury content fish such as salmon, sardines, and trout totaling approximately 12 ounces (340 grams) per week.
- Brain gray matter is preserved with a fish diet and people have slower rates of cognitive decline.
- Fish consumption has a positive impact on decreasing depression and omega 3 fatty acids significantly increase the effectiveness of antidepressant medications.
- Autoimmune diseases such as autoimmune diabetes is decreased and some preliminary data suggests an impact on rheumatoid arthritis and even multiple sclerosis.
- Among the best fish to consume given these criteria are albacore tuna (line caught), wild salmon, sardines, halibut, and cod. Among the fish to avoid for health as well as environmental considerations are bluefin tuna (endangered), Chilean sea bass, grouper, monkfish, and orange roughly. There is a very good “card” listing such fish preferences from the website of the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
“Farmed” fish are to be avoided. Most farms use crowded pens where fish are easily infected by parasites, fed low grade nutrients, and are often treated with banned antibiotics to prevent diseases under these crowded and unnatural conditions. Sewage and wastewater discharged from such farms create destructive algae blooms. Fish that escape from farms also mate with the wild populations and create genetic changes which are unpredictable.