What You Need to Know About Fish

Wild-caught fish are one of the best options for a source of protein. It’s recommended to consume 3 servings (6oz fillet) per week, especially oily fleshed, cold water fish such as wild Alaskan salmon, mackerel, sardines, herring and black cod. These are the highest in Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 protects against many different diseases by reducing inflammation (Omega-3 is anti-inflammatory).

The Omega-3 in fish (DHA and EPA) are superior to plant-based Omega-3 (ALA). The body inefficiently converts ALA to the desired DHA so it’s best to get it from animal sources whenever possible.

Something you might not hear too much about is Omega-6. Omega-6 is found in nearly all processed and refined foods, industrial seed oils (corn, cottonseed, safflower, soybean), nuts and grain-fed animals (grain-fed cows, chickens, pork).

The reason it is so important to consume your 3 servings of high Omega-3 fish per week is because you are working towards balancing your Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio. Typically you want that to be 1:1 but because of the Standard American Diet (SAD), ratios of Omega-6 are much higher, as high as 20:1. Having a high Omega-6 ratio promotes inflammation and contributes to modern diseases such as heart disease, obesity and diabetes (Omega-6 is pro-inflammatory).

If you are not consuming the recommended servings of fish per week it would be best to supplement with a high quality fish oil. You can see our criteria for ēOmega here.

These days people are scared to eat fish because of concerns about mercury and other toxins. These claims may be overblown as recent studies have shown that relevant amounts of selenium that are found in ocean fish can prevent oxidative brain damage and other adverse effects associated with mercury toxicity (1).

If you are still concerned with mercury levels in fish, use this chart as a reference to determine how often you can eat different varieties of fish. You can also use this mercury calculator.

QUESTION: What is your favorite fish recipe? Comment and share!

(1) Energy & Environmental Research Center, University of North Dakota (EERC). EERC Research Finds Mercury Levels in Freshwater and Ocean Fish Not as Harmful as Previously Thought. June 22, 2009.