Ask any nutritionist, doctor, or health advocate about eating fish and you’ll almost invariably get the same answer. They always tell you fish is a great low fat, high protein alternative to red meat. Fish are one of the few ways that Americans can get their daily dose of Omega-3 fatty acids now that cows are primarily fed with grain.
Fish are also extremely high in protein and various vitamins and minerals, while containing little to no saturated fat. Yet because of various sea-born contaminants, some fish may be laden with potentially toxic mercury. For various reasons, you should try and avoid the following types of seafood.
Atlantic Bluefin Tuna
This type of tuna is actually almost extinct. They are categorized as “critically endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Their conservation status has done very little to keep them from being overharvested. Chances are you can find it (often times mislabeled) in your grocery store or nearest restaurant.
What compounds this problem is that Atlantic Bluefin has been found to contain the highest levels of mercury of any type of tuna. Instead, try eating American or Canadian Albacore tuna, which is generally harvested at a young enough age that the mercury content is negligible.
If you’re eating Atlantic salmon, chances are it was farmed (it is currently illegal to catch it in the wild because of low numbers). These fish are usually bunched together in big groups, causing outbreaks of disease and parasites that require treatment with antibiotics and other medications.
They are also fed pellets filled with pink dye to “enhance” their natural color. Instead, try Pacific salmon. It is a significantly better option with all of the nutritional benefits of Atlantic Salmon. When given a choice, eat wild salmon over farmed.
This group, which contains flounder, halibut, and sole, made its way onto the list because the populations are so dangerously low that it is estimated that there exist only 1% of what is necessary for the species to sustain themselves. They are not overtly toxic, but avoid eating them if you care about sustainability. Pacific halibut, tilapia, and catfish are all good alternatives.
Imported King Crab and Shrimp
These two creatures are among some of the most popular seafood in the United States. Imported king crab generally comes from Russia, where it is often times heavily overharvested. Once the crab arrives in the United States, it is often mislabeled as “Alaskan King Crab” because most grocers think that is its actual name. In reality, much of the imported king crab is an entirely different species.
Imported shrimp presents an entirely different problem. Constituting nine tenths of the shrimp sold in the United States, imported shrimp is often times incredibly dirty and contaminated. Not only is it laden with chemical residue and antibiotics, other things have been found such as rodent hair, pieces of land insects, and even E. Coli on the rare occasions (approximately 2% of the time) that the imported seafood has been inspected.