Seven Best Fish to Eat for a Healthy Heart

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Seven Best Fish to Eat for a Healthy Heart

For a healthy heart, fish is often a better choice than meat. It’s leaner and lower in cholesterol and saturated fats. More importantly, fish is higher in omega-3 fatty acids, a type of “healthy fats”, which are essential to our body as we cannot make them ourselves. This is why adding fish to your diet is a smart choice for your health. Here you will find a few of these finned creatures that you’ll want to make sure are on your grocery list.

Seven Best Fish to Eat Based on Level of Omega-3s:

Known as oily fish, the following species are especially rich in omega-3s.

  • Mackerel
  • Freshwater Trout
  • Herring
  • Sardines (canned)
  • Tuna (albacore)
  • Salmon (sockeye)
  • Anchovies

In a balanced diet, omega-3 fatty acids should be consumed in equal measures with another essential fatty acid, omega-6. Omega-6s are found in most plant-based oils (such as corn oil) and in nuts or seeds. However, most Americans consume 6 times more omega-6s than omega-3s, because they are easier to find. This is a huge imbalance. However, by eating these seven oily fish 2-4 times a week, you can restore a healthy balance of essential fatty acids.

You can see why Omega-3s are so important and oily fish are a great place to find this essential fatty acid. Let’s go fishing!

There Are Plenty of Fish in the Sea

With so many concerns and differing opinions about fishing practices and which fish are safe and ethical to eat, it can get very confusing. For instance, it was once popular opinion that farm-raised salmon was something to avoid at all costs. But fish farming practices have improved since then and in many cases, farm-raised fish offer even healthier options than wild caught.

Let’s dive in and see how the Big 7 measure up.

Mackerel

You may have heard that mackerel is one of those fish that is high in mercury, and for some species of mackerel, this is true. But the two mackerel on the safe-to-eat list include Atka Mackerel from Alaska and Atlantic Mackerel.

Fall is the best time to shop for this fish, as it is during this season that it has the highest levels of omega-3s.

A 3.5 ounce serving of mackerel contains about 21 grams of protein, 260 calories, and 2.6 grams of omega-3s.

Mackerel is good baked, broiled, grilled, and poached. Try to avoid the smoked varieties, as these are very high in salt.

Lake Trout

Also known as rainbow trout, this is a close cousin to the salmon. Most of the trout you’ll find in the grocery store is farm raised, which can be good and bad. Only buy farm-raised fish from “raceways which mimic a free-flowing river and use large amounts of freshwater,” rather than open-water net pens. Just ask your grocer or seafood merchant where the fish come from. If they don’t know the answer, take that as a warning sign and shop elsewhere. A 3.5 oz serving of lake trout contains 20 grams of protein, 189 calories and 2.0 grams of omega-3s.

Available year round, you can enjoy trout baked, boiled, grilled, poached, or sauteed. Just make sure to avoid smoked or canned varieties that are high in salt and packed in heavy oils.

Herring

Have you ever heard the term, a “red herring?” Well, herring is the true red herring because it’s really a sardine! Or rather, it’s from the same family.

You can find herring in many products on the shelf from pickled to smoked, but most of these are high in sodium and aren’t the healthiest choice. A 3.5 oz serving of herring contains 14 grams of protein, 202 calories and 1.7 grams of omega-3s. You can cook it almost any way, but it’s really good poached.

Sardines

Sardines come in all shapes and sizes, but pound for pound they really pack a punch in the nutrient department. Rich in calcium, protein, iron, selenium, B12, and omega-3 fatty acids, sardines are an excellent addition to any meal plan.

Best enjoyed fresh in the late summer, you can find frozen and canned sardines year round. Just make sure to read the label for high sodium content and unhealthy oils.

A 3.5 oz serving of sardines contains 22 grams of protein, 203 calories, and 1.5 grams of omega-3s.

Tuna (albacore)

Everybody’s favorite, if you love tuna fish sandwiches or sushi, that is! However, make sure you limit your weekly intake of tuna, as it is on the ‘moderate’ list for mercury levels.

A 3.5 oz serving of Albacore (or white) tuna contains 23 grams of protein, 103 calories, and 1.5 grams of omega-3s.

Salmon (sockeye)

Available fresh from May to October, sockeye salmon is best wild-caught and mainly from Alaska with smaller amounts from Washington and Oregon. It is also available frozen and canned year round, but again watch out for high sodium and unhealthy fat content.

A 3.5 oz serving of salmon contains 27 grams of protein, 216 calories and 1.4 grams of omega-3s.

Anchovies

Not everybody’s favorite, but these little fish make a tasty addition to scrambled eggs, salad dressings, and a healthy alternative to pepperoni on your pizza.

A 3.5 oz serving of anchovies contains 28.7 grams of protein, 130 calories, and 1.4 grams of omega-3s.

A Fish Tale

Hopefully, this long fishtail will take the confusion out of what fish to fry! But how much fish do you need to eat in a week? It all depends on your diet and existing health. But to be on the safe side, aim for 2 to 4 (3.5-4 oz) servings a week.

Type of Fish (3.5 oz)

Omega-3 (grams)

Protein (grams)

Calories

Mackerel

2.6

21

260

Lake Trout

2.0

20

189

Herring

1.7

14

202

Sardines

1.5

22

203

Tuna (albacore)

1.5

23

103

Salmon (sockeye)

1.4

27

216

Anchovies

1.4

28.7

216

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