Most Nutritious Fish: Top 5 Healthiest Catches For A Better Diet, Per Experts

Watching what you eat? Maybe you’re trying to shed a few pounds or you just want to make healthier food choices in general. Fish is a great option for a healthy meal, and a go-to for healthy fats, protein, and overall health, but which is the healthiest? We did the leg work, so you don’t have to. StudyFinds searched the web to find the most nutritious fish to eat, according to health experts, and we’ve listed them here for you.

You may not be fully aware of just how beneficial eating fish is, but don’t worry. According to recent studies, eating oily fish can lower your risk of diabetes, help prevent heart disease, and much more. Since the human body can’t make significant amounts of the most common essential nutrients, fish are an important part of the diet. Eating fish also allows us to avoid “bad” fats commonly found in red meat, called omega-6 fatty acids.

If you have children, including fish in their diet can bring some great benefits. According to research from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology and St. Olavs Hospital, babies who regularly ate fish during the first two years of their life enjoyed a reduction of anywhere from 28 to 40 percent fewer occurrences of various diseases. But that’s not all! Studies have shown that most adult cases of asthma begin in childhood. Now, British scientists conclude that eating plenty of salmon, mackerel and sardines can decrease the risk of kids developing the illness. Scientists say that those who consume the most can cut the risk of developing the life-threatening condition in half.

It’s important to note that while fish can boost the health of children, they should also limit their consumption because of mercury exposure. According to the Harvard Medical School, children under 6 are recommended to consume 1 to 2 ounces per week, and those 6 to 12 years old should limit intake to 2 to 3 ounces per week. The FDA/EPA also offers these guidelines when it comes to mercury in fish and shellfish.

But the benefits of eating fish don’t end there. If you’re a mom-to-be, we know you’re already making choices to ensure your little ones are born healthy. A new study out of the University of Southern California shows that the children of women who ate a moderate amount of fish during pregnancy have a better metabolic profile than children of women who rarely eat fish.

Okay, now that you have more than enough reasons to up your fish intake, let’s get to that list. Below is our list of the most nutritious fish to incorporate into your diet, according to nutrition experts. Of course, we want to know which fish is your favorite, so comment below to let us know!

Fish, sardines
Photo by Harris Vo on Unsplash

The List: Most Nutritious Fish, According to Experts

1. Salmon

You probably saw this coming. It’s well-known the health benefits that come from eating salmon. This may just be the king of oily fishes. Or queen as you’ll soon see.

According to Good Housekeeping, “salmon is the prom queen of fish — that is, super popular. The fat in salmon (especially wild-caught salmon) is the ‘good’ kind, and has lots of calcium and vitamin D.”

“Low in mercury and high in omega-3s (you’ll get at least, if not more than, 1,000 milligrams in a serving), salmon is a healthy fish choice that most of us are familiar with and enjoy cooking with in salmon recipes. Plus, it’s readily available at grocery stores, and restaurants, making it that much easier to incorporate into your diet,” writes Better Homes & Gardens.

Salmon filets
Photo by Caroline Attwood on Unsplash

Mbgfood touches on the many different recipes to use salmon in: “One of the most versatile fish (and arguably the most popular), salmon is delicious and packed with nutrients.”

As stated above, you’ll certainly find salmon in all grocery stores, and at this point, it’s hard to find a restaurant menu that doesn’t also carry it. And that’s good news because this fish ranked first on most lists we reviewed.

2. Sardines

Yes, the little fish canned in olive oil, water, or tomato sauce. These little buggers are healthy for you. And if the thought of eating canned fish scares you, they can be purchased fresh. These are another type of oily fish that showed up on almost every list we reviewed.

“The tiny, inexpensive sardine is making it onto many lists of superfoods and for good reason,” notes One Medical. “It packs more omega-3s (1,950 mg!) per 3-ounce serving than salmon, tuna, or just about any other food.”

“Similar to anchovies (though larger in size and milder in flavor), sardines also pack a lot of omega-3s in their tiny tins. Additionally, they’re an excellent source of vitamin B12, minerals, and calcium (if you choose to eat the bones, that is),” writes mbgfood.

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Though they are small, they pack a mighty healthy punch. Nourish discusses the benefits of eating oily fish such as sardines: “Found in fatty, oily fish, omega-3 fatty acids can help your heart in a number of ways. Just a couple of 4-ounce servings of seafood with them each week can lower your chances of heart disease by 36%. Omega-3s might make you less likely to have conditions like stroke and Alzheimer’s disease, too.”

A suggestion that we came across often for anyone trying sardines for the first time was to consider eating them without bones. The crunch may throw you off if you’ve never eaten them. Then, if you choose, you can work up to eating the whole shebang. Well, minus the head. Although it is edible, so it’s your call.

3. Tuna

It’s no shock that tuna made our list of the most nutritious fish. But keep in mind that most sites mentioned avoiding blue fin tuna. The albacore in cans or fresh tuna steaks, though? Go for it.

You may want to do a little research before picking your tuna. From One Medical: “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 US 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.”

Seared tuna on a plate
(Photo by Taylor Grote on Unsplash)

You may be surprised, but according to BBC Good Food, “tuna doesn’t count as an oily fish as some may think, and you do need to be mindful of potential mercury levels in tuna, especially in pregnancy. But, you would have to be consuming more than four cans a week or two tuna steaks for this to be relevant. Therefore, tuna is a great addition to a balanced diet if consumed just a few times a week.”

“For a good source of protein, it’s best to go with canned light tuna, which is safe to have up to three times a week,” advises Nourish.

So, if you’re trying to load up on protein you likely won’t want to use tuna as your main source considering the pesky mercury deal, but in moderation, tuna is a great addition to your weekly diet.

4. Rainbow Trout

Not only are they pretty, but they’re also healthy. And tasty. These guys swim on most lists we reviewed; and they’re a popular go-to as far as fish are concerned.

“Rainbow trout (also referred to as steelhead trout), is one of the best fish to eat when it’s farmed in the U.S. or indoor recirculating tanks, according to Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch. Trout ranks just under canned pink salmon when it comes to omega-3 content and is a good source of potassium, selenium, and vitamin B6 while offering more than a day’s worth of vitamin B12,” writes Eating Well.

Rainbow trout on black frying pan
Rainbow trout in a frying pan. (Photo by John Salzarulo on Unsplash)

Better Homes & Gardens seconds this, mentioning that a single serving of rainbow trout contains 1,000 milligrams of omega 3, but with the plus of low mercury levels.

And that’s not a typo above, farmed is the way to go when it comes to buying this type of fish. “Farmed rainbow trout is actually a safer option than wild, as it’s raised protected from contaminants. And, according to the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch, it’s one of the best types of fish you can eat in terms of environmental impact,” writes Healthline.

So, you may want to grab your fishing poles and head to the, well, farm, so you can stock up on these healthy beauties.

5. Herring

It’s time for a quick lesson about herring and sardines. Are you ready? From Dr. Andrew Weil: “There’s not a big difference between sardines and herring. In fact, ‘sardine’ means ‘small fish.’ (The fish in question were named after Sardinia, the second largest island in the Mediterranean, because they used to be plentiful in this region.) When they’re young and small, these fish are called sardines. When they get older and bigger, they’re called herring.”

Now that you’re in the know, we’ll let Medical News Today tell you some of the benefits of herring as well as something to watch out for: “Herring is a beneficial source of omega-3 fatty acids and also provides 17.96 g of protein and 13.67 mcg of vitamin B-12Trusted Source in each 100 g. Pickled or smoked herring has a higher sodium content, which people should be aware of when planning meals.”

The dutch new herring, a delicacy in the Netherlands
The dutch new herring, a delicacy in the Netherlands. (Photo by Paul Einerhand on Unsplash)

Hum writes “like sardines, herring are small fish that contain fewer contaminants. They’re often found smoked and canned in oil or water and are sometimes called kippers. A popular way to eat herring is over toast.” And just one more reminder, “it can be high in sodium, so just be sure to limit your portion size and how often you eat it.”

So now that you know about herring, sardines, and sodium, you can add these oily little fish to your diet and reap benefits from the healthy fats, protein, and vitamins.


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Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations. This post may contain affiliate links.

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