Fishes make up an essential component of a balanced diet. They are a source of good fats, proteins and have a considerable amount of vitamins and minerals in them. They are a rich source of omega-3 fatty acid, which is imperative for a healthy heart. Omega-3 fatty acid can be found in flaxseeds, melon seeds and sunflower seeds too but it does not match the benefits that fish fat has on the heart. Carol Dombrow, consulting dietician of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, concluded that; “Other sources of omega-3, like flaxseed oil, are not as effective as fish in preventing cardiovascular diseases”.
This is not it; fish also prevents the risk of kidney cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. It is good for the unhindered flow of blood in the blood vessels. In a pregnant woman, it helps in the development of the brain and nervous system of the foetus. The vitamins found in fish are good for hair, skin, eyes and nails.
While it has numerous benefits to count on, it also has possible health risks related to it. The health risks are mostly due to the contaminants that get into the food we eat today. The contaminants that are known to have adverse effects on our health are polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), mercury, dioxins and remnants of pesticides. These contaminants when consumed in large amounts have cancerous effects on our body. There has been a lot of argument regarding whether the benefits overrule the possible risks, or the risks overrule the health benefits of fish. The benefits of fish are too many to be ignored, and have won all such health debates. However, one cannot ignore the adverse effects those contaminants have on our body. Therefore, we have compiled a list of 15 fish that either are over fished or have high levels of contaminants in them.
“15 fishes to avoid and stay away from due to ecological and health reasons. Avoid the fishes mentioned above and opt for their alternatives instead.”
15. King Mackerel
“Sometimes I smile at the little fishes and they swim away. I wonder if my smile is scary to them”, says King Mackerel while grinning.
King mackerel contains high levels of mercury, and when I say high, I mean one of the highest levels of mercury you can possibly intake via a fish. You should refrain eating this fish, completely. Women and children should not eat this fish and men can only consume half a serving of this fish, considered if they consume no other contaminated food (source: EPA). Mercury is a carcinogen and you do not want to intake a carcinogen deliberately. Instead, you can feast on Atlantic Mackerel, which tastes similar, has minimal amount of mercury and is dignified as eco-friendly in all ways by MBA’s Seafood Watch.
“I want to play and be friends with the fishes but I find it really awkward to ask them out. I hope one day they would understand”, says the Shark with a melancholic smile.
Shark meat is one of the most yummy tasting meat you can ever have but it is also one that you should never have. Shark is a carnivore, which feeds on the other fishes in the sea, the fishes that are contaminated with mercury, PCBs, dioxins and other harmful contaminants. When the shark consumes a contaminated fish, it consumes the contaminants as well. Then it eats another contaminated fish the other day, then some more and some more. The mercury level keeps adding up. When you consume shark, it transfers into you – all the mercury, PCBs and dioxins. As tempting as it is to eat something that could have eaten you, if it was alive, you would want to stay away from all those carcinogenic substances. Another reason for not wanting to consume shark is that we they are being overfished, mostly due to by-catch.
“You are not looking at an ordinary fish, I am a swordfish and I can poke holes in you if you mess with me”, says the swordfish.
Swordfish has a little army of its own to defend itself from the bigger fishes. It is big enough to eat the little fishes and its sword nose is big enough to defend itself from being eaten. It is ranked in one of the most competitive fishes in the sea. Since it survives on little fishes, the carcinogenic contaminants travel up the food chain. Swordfish is another fish that has high levels of mercury found within and that mercury stacks up with time. Another reason for not consuming swordfish is that it is caught via longline fishing method. It catches other endangered species of fishes, turtles and sharks too.
12. Sand Tilefish
If looks could kill, tilefish would have been on top of the list. I mean just look at it, it is such a cute little thing.
As cute as she looks, her looks can kill you (not really sure whether it is a he or a she but it looks very pretty so I want to assume that this is a female fish and we will address it as a she). Tilefish has one of the highest levels of mercury as well as various other contaminants. There are 4 fishes that EPA has completely restricted from eating since they have the highest levels of mercury in them. Shark, King Mackerel, Tilefish and Swordfish are 4 fishes which shall be avoided at all costs.
“Fishes usually come over for beauty tips and ask me how I manage to look so beautiful, I can only ask them to keep it natural”, says the Yellowtail.
Avoid having yellowtail caught from the coasts of Japan and Australia. If you are a fond of yellowtail then you can have yellowtail from the US instead. The sole reason being; it is overfished in both Japan and Australia. The yield of yellowtail is much lesser than its consumption.
10. Orange Roughy
“I have been loyal to the US since 101 years now and yet they have not issued me the citizenship. Talk about racism and discrimination”, says the Orange Roughy.
Monetary Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch (MBASW) has recommended avoiding this fish completely, for it is overfished and the method of fishing used is destructive. Orange roughy can live for about 100 years but has a slow reproductive cycle. Due to its slow reproductive cycle the global stock of orange roughy is quite low, according to the recent coastal statistics. Opt for other fishes that are caught via better fishing methods. It also has high levels of mercury, according to Environmental Defence Fund (EDF).
9. Chilean Sea Bass (Wild)
“I have no girlfriend; all the fishes here think I am grumpy. I am not grumpy. We just don’t have a good salon in here to do the grooming you know”, says the Chilean Sea Bass.
Chilean Sea Bass (wild) has high levels of mercury in its meat. It is in the list of top 10 fishes that should be avoided. Even after being discovered to contain mercury, Chilean sea bass is globally demanded so much that the overall stock is low. The fish is also endangered due to overfishing and by-catch issues. If you want to have it, go for the Chilean sea bass from McDonald Island and Antarctic Heard or from the Macquarie Island of the South Pacific. You must take no more than two servings per month of this fish.
“Find out which fishes to avoid and which ones to eat. List of 15 fishes that should not be consumed and why. List of fishes that can be consumed without worrying.”
8. Beluga Sturgeon
“Everybody here calls me Grandpa. It makes me emotional and gives me a very fatherly feeling you know”, says the Beluga Sturgeon.
On a global level, we are running short of Beluga Sturgeon specie. The reason being; its caviar is highly demanded so anglers catch the female Beluga Sturgeon and take it to fish farms and aquariums for harvesting the eggs. Its caviars are high in demand and highly expensive. It lives for about 110 years and matures late. However due to its high demand, Beluga Sturgeon is being overfished. Instead of Beluga Sturgeon, look for White Sturgeon as an alternative.
7. Atlantic Cod
“I am quite choosy when it comes to making friends and trusting other fishes. They might take advantage of me, I think”, says the Atlantic Cod.
This is where all the omega-3 rich cod oil comes from. Cod oil capsules, one of the most successful businesses in the world. To keep the business running, Atlantic Cod is continuously fished, sold and imported. The least we can do is not eat this fish and let it breed so that the specie does not go extinct. Go for Recirculating Aquaculture land-based system Cod, where the population is carefully checked.
“Just when I am about to propose my girlfriend, something has to go wrong. Wonder if we will ever get married”, says Escolar.
One of the most widely consumed fish, Escolar, also known as white tuna which we easily find in small tins, tastes beyond delicious. You should not consume more than 6 ounces per week of this fish and industrial contamination or mercury is not the reason behind it. It causes diarrhoea if over-consumed. Avoid consuming any more than 6 ounces per week and you will be good to go.
“Last night I had a dream; I was eating humans and I enjoyed my meal. Ugh! So inhumane! I’d rather be a vegetarian”, says Albacore
Albacore, also known as tuna, has mercury in it. In fact several other forms of tuna, namely the Bluefin, yellow-fin and black-fin tuna, all have differing levels of mercury in them. They are, however, highly demanded for their scrumptious taste. People like to have their sushi with tuna which further increases the demand of these fishes. They are overfished and the method of catching them, long-line method, is harming the ecosystem. It results in by-catch issues of other endangered species of fish. Go for Swai fish or Basa fish.
4. Avoid Shellfish
“Sometimes when I am alone and nobody is watching, I wish I could swim like the other fishes can but then I think hey, they cannot crawl like me. Crawling is cool”, says the Lobster to the Crab.
Shellfishes feed on everything that is found on the sea bed, therefore they feed on industrial contaminants that float down to the sea soil too. Avoid consuming lobsters, oysters, clams, shrimps, crabs, and scallops. They all have mercury and other industrial toxins in them.
3. Red Snapper (US Atlantic, Wild)
“Yellowtail was once consoling me for having kids who all look orange and alike. I told her, ‘I am sexy and I know it’, says the Red Snapper.
Red snapper is an endangered species to date. The demand of this fish is rising much faster than its population. MBA Seafood Watch has put this fish in their “Fishes to Avoid” list for its population is declining since 1980’s and not much has been done to overcome the decline. As low as their population is, red snappers are overfished. You fill often find tilapia with the red snapper label in the market due to the shortage. When buying red snapper, look for the ones caught from Massachusetts and Mexican Gulf, they are the only real red snappers. Avoid having red snapper and play your ecological role by opting for other alternatives like black cod.
2. Freshwater Eel
“Fishes gross out when I enter the club and then the guards pull me out. Why can I not party?”, asked the eel from the crab while frowning.”
Freshwater eel is low in population so I would have asked you to consume farmed eel instead, but I would rather ask you to avoid eel completely. Farmed eel is high in terms of mercury, PCBs and other toxins.
1. Imported Fish And Shrimps
“I was happy with my friends at the ocean but then they brought me to this new place and nobody likes me here”, says the imported fish to the imported shrimp as the shrimp consoles her.
Imported fish have been fed with antibiotics to keep it from dying and rotting on the way. Those antibiotics may be banned in your country and these fishes may bring new strains of bacteria. Avoid having such seafood and not encourage such imports.
Facts About Catfish
People who are fish-a-holic know that catfish has only one single fish bone in the middle; thus it is very convenient to eat and tastes good. Usually when you order fish and chips, or fried finger fish at a restaurant, they serve you Vietnamese catfish, namely the Swai fish and the Basa fish. If cooked just right, i.e. not too much and not too less, it turns out juicy and it literally melts in your mouth. It is ranked amongst the best tasting fish of the world.
Best Fish To Eat
- Locally grown shrimp