I’m so fortunate to live in a location that is very near to the original ‘Mayberry.’ Do you remember Mayberry?
You know the town where Andy Griffith would take his young son, Opie, fishing, and that they would live out their lives happily eating delicious southern cooking by Aunt Bea?
Well, every time I drive past that town I always think of the scene of Andy and Opie walking down the dirt road with fishing poles in hand. Besides the fact that it is a happy scene in my mind, I can’t help but think of all of the delicious fish that they must have caught in the magic of TV.
So if you love to go fishing and create your own happy memories, you need to keep these fish from this post in mind because there are some fish that are actually better for you to eat than others.
But if you aren’t a fisherman or woman, then keep these fish in mind as you decide which ones to raise or purchase from your local fish market.
14 Healthy Fish Types to Eat
Here are the healthiest and the best fish for you to eat:
1. Wild Salmon
Naturally, wild salmon has to be first on the list. The reason is that it is a great all-around fish. It is high in omega-3’s and great for your heart.
However, try to eat the wild kind. Farmed salmon is worse because they are often raised in overcrowded conditions that produce viruses and bacteria. They also have higher calories and bad fat content. But if you don't have access to wild salmon, any kind of salmon — farmed or wild — is still good.
So keep that in mind as you shop for wild salmon. You could either raise them yourself to ensure proper conditions, or you could purchase it fresh, frozen, or even canned.
2. Arctic Char
Arctic Char is also often referred to as Iwana. This variety of fish is okay to eat if they’ve been farmed. As always, you all know I’m a huge encourager of raising your own food.
Naturally, raising the fish yourself is always best because you know what conditions it was raised in. Also, catching it in its natural environment is the more natural way of doing things as well.
But if you have to purchase this fish, keep in mind that farmed fish in this variety is okay because they are usually raised with more organic methods.
3. Atlantic Mackerel
When purchasing Mackerel be sure it is Atlantic Mackerel. You’ll want to avoid King Mackerel and Spanish Mackerel because they have a much higher mercury content in them.
However, Atlantic Mackerel does not have that same fear of high mercury content so it would be good to use for a regular staple in your fish intake.
4. Black Cod
I love cod. It is probably one of my favorite fish. That gives me a little extra pep in my step that I can include it on this list because not only does it taste good, but it is good for you too.
So if you are unfamiliar with black cod, it has a great buttery flavor to it. To me, it isn’t super ‘fishy’ which I prefer.
However, it does have a slightly higher mercury content than other fish. For this reason, you won’t want to consume it on a regular basis. Also, children that are 12 and under should eat it no more than 2 times per month.
Sardines were once a really common fish and were very easy to find in most any market. That was until recently.
Now, they are quite difficult to locate because the fishing of this type of fish has been closed due to the rapid decline in their numbers.
But if you can locate them, they are a great option for a snack or as part of a meal because of their lower amounts of mercury in comparison to fish higher up on the food chain.
So many people love oysters. They love them cooked and a lot of people love them raw too. We go to a small beach for vacation every year, and we get our seafood from a local fresh fish market. I find it so surprising how many people come in there just to purchase oysters.
So if you are an oyster lover, you are in luck because they are very good for you. Most oysters you buy are usually farmed unless you go to a place like the fish market I mentioned.
Either way, both of the methods (farmed or caught wild) are well maintained and shouldn’t expose you to any bacteria due to overcrowding or other issues from unsanitary conditions.
7. Rainbow Trout
Rainbow Trout is another favorite fish of mine. It should be mentioned that this fish should only be eaten if caught fresh.
However, if you have to buy Rainbow Trout that has been farmed, you need to ask what method they used to raise it. If you are told they were raised in a pond or a recirculating system then you are good to go.
The reason is that these methods don’t allow the fish to live in unsanitary conditions that cause issues with the fish. Instead, these methods keep the fish clean and healthy which should be your goal when consuming any animal.
I will never forget my first run in with Anchovies. I was pregnant, still living in the city, and had an office job. We had pizza delivered to work that day, and I was almost 9 months pregnant and Italian food was one of my cravings.
So I see this fresh pepperoni pizza, fix myself a couple of pieces, and then waddle back to my office. I notice that this pizza is extremely salty. I came out and asked one of the guys at work if they noticed anything odd about the pizza.
Naturally, they all laughed so hard at me because I had picked up a piece of pizza that had pepperoni and Anchovies on it. I will probably never forget that day.
But if you like Anchovies, then stick with them because they are lower in mercury and very high in omega-3’s which your heart will appreciate.
I like the way Rockfish look. They are very unique fish that also provide a lot of great nutrients for you. Sadly, this fish was once overfished so their numbers decreased dramatically.
However, now there are over 70 species of Rockfish, and they are back in a big way. So enjoy Rockfish as all 70 varieties are healthy for you.
10. Pacific Halibut
Halibut is another great tasting fish, in my opinion. But this is a type of fish you have to watch how much of it you consume because of the mercury levels. So this isn’t a good staple for you if you eat a ton of fish.
Also, keep the mercury levels in mind if you have smaller children. It is recommended that children ages 5 and under should not eat this type of fish more than two times per month.
Some people say catfish is an acquired taste. I personally like catfish nuggets very much. This fish has special requirements too in order to make sure you are consuming fish that is safe for you to eat.
So you’ll want to be sure that you either catch the catfish yourself, or if you are purchasing catfish that it was raised in the United States. The reason is that some countries have no regulations on fish farming.
Which means, that you could be eating contaminated fish because of the contaminated water they were raised in. So just be sure to check that, but catfish are also known for their low levels of mercury so if you can catch them, they are a great fish to eat.
Mussels make me think of our beach trips too because as many people as I see pile into that fish market on a daily basis to get oysters, they do the same with mussels.
However, most mussels are farmed. Don’t let that turn you off of them though because they are raised responsibly. Mussels are actually raised on a rope that is dropped into the ocean.
Plus, this method of raising mussels is not only a healthy way to raise mussels but can also really improve the ecosystem where they are raised.
13. Albacore Tuna
I have a whole new respect for commercial fisherman after watching some of the shows on TV. I watch a show pretty regularly about King Crab fisherman, and I watched a show pertaining to fisherman that try to catch Albacore Tuna as well.
Let me just say, it is no small feat. After they go through such a hassle to catch these fish, it is great news that they are actually good for your consumption.
However, these fish do have higher mercury levels in them. Therefore, it is recommended that children ages 5 and under don’t eat this fish more than twice per month.
Herring is known for having a stronger taste. So if you prefer fish that doesn’t taste really strong, then you might want to steer clear of this one. It is all about preference.
However, I was glad that this fish made the list. The reason is because it is high in omega-3’s, low in mercury, and also very eco-friendly.
But Herring makes me smile. It might sound crazy, but I have very fond memories growing up of watching episodes of The Golden Girls with my older sister. If you are familiar with the show, you know that Rose (played by Betty White) often referred to some intense Herring dishes that she enjoyed because of her Scandinavian roots.
So if you love The Golden Girls, you may want to give Herring a try not only for your heart health but also to get a true taste of what that show was talking about.
Why Should I Eat Fish?
Now that you know of all of the fish types that you can eat, you might be wondering why you should eat fish at all? I mean, not everyone loves fish.
And I understand that. I didn’t like fish very much until I was a teenager, and I actually didn’t really crave it until we started going to the beach. There is something about seeing the fish caught and then being sold that drives me to want to eat it.
So the main reason you should eat fish is because of the omega-3’s that it contains. Omega-3’s are great for your heart and in turn really boost your heart health.
Now, some people worry that they should avoid fish because they can potentially contain some mercury.
However, it has now been determined that the benefits of fish far outweigh the risks of mercury consumption. But it is still a good idea to consume fish that are lower in mercury.
Which Fish Should I Avoid?
There are certain types of fish that are really high in mercury. As much as they may be good for your heart, it is not a good idea to consume this fish because of how much mercury they contain.
So for your safety, I want you to know which types of fish to avoid. They are:
- King Mackerel
- Orange Roughy
- File Fish
- Ahi Tuna
I know this might seem rather depressing because I know how much some people love to consume more ‘exotic’ types of fish, but again, it really isn’t a good idea because of the high amounts of mercury that they contain.
So now that you know what types of fish are best for you to consume (and which are not), you are ready to explore fish in a whole new way.