The healthiest fish to eat, The fish you should definitely avoid

Fish has heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids, including DHA, the fatty acid that nourishes your brain. But mercury poisoning, toxins and preservatives have scared many people away from eating fish. Here’s what you need to know to eat fish and stay healthy.

Even if you’re a vegetarian, Body Ecology recommends eating fish about three times a week because fish has medicinal, grounding and strengthening properties. In general, fish is a great protein substitute for other meats because it is low in calories, saturated fat, and cholesterol, and that’s not all:

Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish have been linked to1:

  • lower blood pressure
  • lower heart rate
  • lower risk of death from heart disease
  • lower risk for stroke
  • lower risk for depression
  • lower risk for some cancers

Fish consumption is especially important for women who are pregnant or want to have a baby because it provides the omega-3 fatty acid, DHA, which encourages healthy brain development of babies.2

But fish are sadly said to be on the “Do Not Eat List” because of the concern over mercury.

Also, you’ve probably heard some of the warnings and reports about overharvesting wild fish species and the water pollution caused by commercial fish farms.

Here’s what you need to know about fish to make sure that you’re getting fish that improves your health instead of harming it.

Mercury Poisoning and Other Toxins

Mercury poisoning is still a concern when it comes to fish consumption, but there are ways to mitigate this risk.To reduce the risk of mercury contamination, avoid eating swordfish, shark, tilefish and king mackerel altogether. Limit your intake of white tuna (also known as albacore) to less than 6 ounces per week.

Shellfish can also be full of toxins because they are scavengers and feed on industrial deposits, sewage, and the waste of other fish, filtering it through their bodies. Avoid clams, lobsters, oysters, shrimp and scallops if you want to avoid excess toxins from shellfish.

But should women who are pregnant, nursing, or who want to have a baby, along with children under 12, be especially mindful to avoid eating fish?

Yes, certainly they should avoid the fish that might have high levels of mercury but at Body Ecology we have a solution. If you have ever seen a photo or news report on the oil spills that have occurred occasionally on the ocean, you know it is a horrible gooey mess. Microflora are used to clean up the oil spills. They are also used commercially to clean up toxic waste sites around chemical factories. (Be sure to read “How Microbes are Used to Clean Up Toxic Waste – and How to Put Them to Use for De-Toxifying YOU.“) Clearly then we can use the microflora in fermented foods to help us through these toxic times.


Preservatives are another concern when it comes to purchasing your fish.
Many fish are sprayed with preservatives like polyphosphates, sulfites, sodium benzoate, and polytrisorbate to control mold, yeast, and bacteria and to make them appear appetizing. The FDA allows these preservatives, but they don’t have to appear on the labels of the fish you buy.3

The long-term health effects of consuming these preservatives are unknown, so it’s best to avoid suppliers who use these preservatives. One guideline is that warm water fish (like Orange Roughy) are more likely to have preservatives than coldwater fish.
Otherwise, use your judgment and know your supplier to make sure that you’re getting high quality fish without preservatives.

Wild Fish vs. Farmed Fish

You have probably heard the debate and are wondering, “Do I choose wild fish or farm raised fish?”

When it comes to your health, we recommend wild caught fish, and here’s why: Farm raised fish generally have the same level of omega-3 fatty acids as wild fish, but when it comes to fat and calories, the farm raised fish have more.4

Because farm raised fish don’t have lots of room to swim and are prone to disease, they are often given antibiotics as well as commercial dyes to give them a healthy color. Even the feed they are given may have toxins that are passed on to the consumer.5

While farm raised fish often costs less than their wild caught counter parts, the health risks and lack of flavor truly don’t merit buying such an inferior product. Having said this, however, there are many aqua-culturists that operate responsibly and you can eat the fish from these farms without sacrificing your health or that of the planet.

Fish To Eat

Now that you know more about fish, here are our recommendations for the healthiest fish on the market.

Omega-3 Rich Fish to Eat:
  • Salmon
  • Halibut
  • Tuna
  • Cod
  • Sardines
  • Anchovies
Fish To Avoid
  • Swordfish
  • Shark
  • Tilefish
  • King mackerel
  • White (albacore) tuna
  • Warm water fish like orange roughy
  • Shellfish like clams, lobsters, oysters, shrimp and scallops
  • Fish whose color has been preserved with dyes
  • Farmed fish (unless from a responsible aqua-culturists)

Fish: A Great Source of Protein

Fish is an excellent source of animal protein and in fact, a preferred source of animal protein on the Body Ecology program. Everyone seems to do well on fish and it is easier to digest.

So how do you find the best fish for your health?

One of our favorite sources of heart-healthy, wild fish that is free of heavy contaminants and fished from sustainable, wild fisheries is Vital Choice. What we love most about Vital Choice is their high quality wild fish that is delivered right to your door. In an age when everyone is already so busy, it’s helpful to have convenient options to help us stay healthy. How convenient is that!

Fish has heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids, including DHA, the fatty acid that nourishes your brain. But mercury poisoning, toxins and preservatives have scared many people away from eating fish. Here’s what you need to know to eat fish and stay healthy.

Benefits Outweigh Risks

Fish really is an ideal protein, and the benefits of eating fish far outweigh the risks…when you choose the right fish…and especially if you are on a pro-biotic diet. One study found that eating fish twice weekly is equivalent to taking a daily fish oil supplement!6

Keep these guidelines in mind when you shop for fish and you’ll reap the heart healthy benefits of fish without the risks. And if you have not already done so…add at least one fermented food to your diet especially when you eat a serving of your favorite fish.


  1. Eating Fish: Health Benefits and Risks, JAMA, 18 Oct 2006. http://jama.ama-assn.org/cgi/content/full/296/15/1926
  2. ibid.
  3. Foulke, Judith, “A Fresh Look at Food Preservatives,” US Food and Drug Administration, http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/fdpreser.html
  4. Fish FAQ: The merits and hazards of eating fish, MayoClinic.com.
  5. Wild vs. Farm or Ocean Raised Fish, DeliciousOrganics.
  6. WHFoods.org. http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=95#healthbenefits
  7. Squires, Sally, “Benefits of Fish Exceed Risks, Study Says,”WashingtonPost.com, 18 Oct 2006. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/10/17/AR2006101700475.html
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