You probably already know that you’re supposed to be eating fish twice a week. Fish are a lean, healthy source of protein—and the oily kinds, such as salmon, tuna, sardines, etc.—deliver those heart- and brain-healthy omega-3 fats you’ve probably also heard you should be getting in your diet. (Find out if you need an omega-3 supplement here.)
But then there’s also this concern about sustainability—and choosing seafood that’s sustainable.
So, if you’re like me, you often stand at the fish counter a little perplexed: what’s good for me and the planet?
Fortunately, Seafood Watch, the program run by the Monterey Bay Aquarium, has combined data from leading health organizations and environmental groups to come up with their list “Super Green: Best of the Best” of seafood that’s good for you and good for the environment.
To make the list, last updated in January 2010, fish must: a) have low levels of contaminants—below 216 parts per billion [ppb] mercury and 11 ppb PCBs; b) be high in health-promoting omega-3 fats; and c) come from a sustainable fishery.
Related: 7 Simple Ways to Avoid Chemicals & Toxins In Your Diet & Your Home
Many other options are on the program’s list of “Best Choices” (seafoodwatch.org). The Blue Ocean Institute (blueocean.org) also has sustainability ratings and detailed information.
6 of the Healthiest Fish to Eat
Here are 6 fish—that are healthy for you and the planet—that Seafood Watch says you should be eating.
1. Albacore Tuna (troll- or pole-caught, from the U.S. or British Columbia)
Many tuna are high in mercury but albacore tuna—the kind of white tuna that’s commonly canned—gets a Super Green rating as long as (and this is the clincher) it is “troll- or pole-caught” in the U.S. or British Columbia. The reason: smaller (usually less than 20 pounds), younger fish are typically caught this way (as opposed to the larger fish caught on longlines). These fish have much lower mercury and contaminant ratings and those caught in colder northern waters often have higher omega-3 counts. The challenge: you need to do your homework to know how your fish was caught or look for the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) blue eco label.
2. Salmon (wild-caught, Alaska)
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To give you an idea of how well managed Alaska’s salmon fishery is, consider this: biologists are posted at river mouths to count how many wild fish return to spawn. If the numbers begin to dwindle, the fishery is closed before it reaches its limits, as was done recently with some Chinook fisheries. This close monitoring, along with strict quotas and careful management of water quality, means Alaska’s wild-caught salmon are both healthier (they pack 1, 210 mg of omega-3s per 3-ounce serving and carry few contaminants) and more sustainable than just about any other salmon fishery.