In my opinion, there’s no better time to enjoy some fresh fish and seafood than in July and August. Especially New England lobster, crab, clams, and mussels!
So, in a moment, I’ll give you a complete report on all the delicious fish and seafood you can safely enjoy this summer…without fear of contamination by toxic chemicals.
But first, let’s talk about why eating more fish and seafood is so beneficial to your health…
Fish and seafood boost overall health
Fish and shellfish are among the healthiest foods on the planet. They’re filled with essential omega-3 fatty acids that support your brain, heart, mood, metabolism, and much more.
So, it was especially puzzling when dietary “experts” recommended against eating some types of shellfish, like lobster and shrimp…when it’s such a rich source of something we so desperately need and can’t make ourselves! (Cholesterol.)
Of course, they wage this misguided war not just against shellfish…but also against other healthy, wholesome foods that naturally contain cholesterol, such as eggs, red meat, and dairy.
But remember—scientific studies dating back more than 40 years show no correlation between dietary cholesterol intake and blood cholesterol levels. Moreover, no studies show that lowering blood cholesterol with drugs really improves health, heart disease risk, or mortality!
Not to mention, every cell in your body needs cholesterol. It’s a key building block for all cell membranes, hormones, and vitamin D (another vital nutrient). In fact, when sunlight shines on your bare skin, your body ultimately photo-converts cholesterol into active vitamin D.
Of course, shellfish and fish are also important sources of protein—which your body needs to build and maintain muscle strength as you get older.
Just remember to be choosey about your fish and seafood…
Be wise about your fish and seafood selections
Oily fish like freshwater trout, salmon, sardines, and tuna contain the highest amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. So, when adding fish and seafood to your diet, I always suggest starting there.
But remember—always opt for wild-caught fish and seafood. For one, wild-caught varieties contain up to 10 times more fatty acids than farmed fish. And it’s as close as you can get to an organic, natural, whole food.
On the other hand, farm-raised fish contain contaminants—such as mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)—that you need to avoid. These contaminants can find their way into ground, lake, and ocean waters from household and industrial wastes. Then, they can accumulate within the fish that reside there.
Fish to avoid, fish to enjoy
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued combined guidelines regarding how to limit exposure to the toxic pollutants often found in farm-raised fish for women of childbearing age, pregnant and breastfeeding women, and children.
Specifically, they recommend avoiding these fish, which may contain high amounts of mercury: shark, swordfish, king mackerel, marlin, orange roughy, bigeye tuna, or tilefish from the Gulf of Mexico.
On the other hand, dozens of fish and shellfish have great omega-3 content and low mercury contamination, according to the latest FDA classifications. They are: anchovy, Atlantic mackerel, black sea bass, clam, cod, crab, flounder, haddock, lobster (American and spiney), oyster, sardine, scallop, shrimp, tilapia, tuna*, trout (freshwater), wild-caught salmon, and white fish.
One note about tuna: Ahi, albacore, and yellowfin (called “solid white albacore tuna”) can be commercially farmed and higher in mercury content. Skipjack or bonito tuna (called “chunk light tuna”) is low in mercury. I find the chunk light tuna makes for a better salad anyway—mixed together with a little sugar-free mayo, red vinegar, red onion, celery, capers, and/or jalapeño peppers, to your taste.
Two simple fish oil supplement recommendations
Unless you’re like the old man in the sea and eat fish or seafood every single day of the week, you probably still need to take a daily, high-quality fish oil supplement.
Just make sure to find a brand that contains as many omega-3s as you’d get in a healthy serving of wild-caught fatty fish—like salmon. (Here are my updated dosage recommendations, based on the latest science and your dietary intake of fish. Others don’t understand or won’t tell you that the right dose for you depends entirely on how much fish you eat.)
In addition, I urge you to invest in a quality brand you can trust, as there are lots of low-quality, low-cost, mass-produced supplement lines that contain mercury and other harmful substances, and quickly become rancid.
You can learn how to spot the real deal in the October 2013 issue of my Insiders’ Cures newsletter (“What you REALLY need to know about fish, omega-3s, and prostate cancer risk”). If you’re not yet a subscriber, click here to get started.
“Advice about Eating Fish.” U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 12/29/20. (fda.gov/food/consumers/advice-about-eating-fish)