advertisement



Q & A Library


Print this page | Sign up for free e-bulletins
 | Bookmark This Page

Q
Fishing for Fish Information?

I want to eat more fish, but I don't know how to choose them. How can I find out what fish are safest to eat and whether fish in the market really is fresh?

A
Answer (Published 8/19/2004)

Fresh fish is delicious and good for you. There's no trick to figuring out what to buy, but you should keep a few simple rules in mind. In general, ocean fish are preferable to freshwater fish because they're less likely to be contaminated by pollutants. Sardines and herring are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which can protect against heart attacks and cancer, decrease inflammation, and enhance mood and long-term health. They're also healthier choices because they're less likely to be contaminated than large carnivorous fish such as swordfish and marlin, which spend a lot of time in coastal waters where pollution levels are highest. If you can find fresh sardines or herring, try them; they are quite different from the familiar canned versions.

Related Weil Products
Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor for Your Whole Body - Foods, herbs and drugs can all interact, sometimes in unexpected ways. Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor takes known interactions into account when developing nutritional supplement recommendations, to help safeguard against adverse effects. Learn more, and get your free, personalized Dr. Weil's Vitamin Advisor recommendation today.

I avoid bluefish, another oily species, because they tend to concentrate mercury. Albacore tuna and mackerel are good sources of omega-3s, but I do not eat them for the same reasons that I avoid swordfish and marlin. My favorite fish is wild Alaskan salmon, which is delicious, contains plenty of omega-3s, and is relatively toxin-free. However, you may have trouble finding wild salmon in many parts of the country. Avoid farmed salmon (also called Atlantic salmon), which is what you mostly find in supermarkets and fish markets. While less expensive than wild salmon, farmed salmon also may have a higher and less favorable omega-6 to omega-3 ratio and may contain residues of antibiotics and other drugs used by fish farmers to treat diseases in their farming pens. What's more, recent studies have detected levels of PCBs and other contaminants in farmed salmon that are 16 times higher than those found in wild salmon.

When buying fish, you can determine freshness by following these suggestions from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration:  

  • The fish's eyes should be clear and should bulge a little.
  • The flesh (whether the fish is whole or filleted) should be firm and shiny.
  • Gills should be bright red and free from slime.
  • The flesh should spring back when pressed.
  • There should be no darkening around the edges of the fish or brown or yellowish discoloration.
  • Buy only fresh seafood that is refrigerated or properly iced.
  • Don't buy cooked seafood, such as shrimp, crab, or smoked fish if it is displayed in the same case as raw fish. Cross-contamination can occur.
  • Don't buy frozen seafood if the packages are open, torn, or crushed on the edges

You can get a handy pocket guide to fish choices (both good and bad) from the Environmental Defense Fund at: www.environmentaldefense.org/documents/1980_pocket_seafood_selector.pdf

Andrew Weil, M.D.

Creative Commons License Some Rights Reserved Creative Commons Copyright Notice
A portion of the original material created by Weil Lifestyle, LLC on DrWeil.com (specifically, all question and answer-type articles in the Dr. Weil Q&A Library) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

The Weil Vitamin Advisor
Get your FREE personalized vitamin recommendation & supplement plan today!

Dr. Weil on Healthy Aging
Your Online Guide to the Anti-Inflammatory Diet. Start eating for your health - begin your free trial now.

Dr. Weil's Spontaneous Happiness
Achieve emotional well-being
in just eight weeks!
Start your 10-day free trial now!

Vitamin Library
Supplement your knowledge with Dr. Weil's essential vitamin facts. Learn why they are necessary and more.

Dr. Weil's Optimum Health Plan
Your 8-week plan to wellness.
Begin your journey today!
 

Dr. Weil's Head-to-Toe
Wellness Guide

Your guide to natural health.
Use the Wellness Guide today!

Dr. Weil's Anti-Inflammatory Diet Food Pyramid
Our interactive tool can help improve overall health through diet.

Condition Care Guide
Learn about health conditions from acne to vertigo, and Dr. Weil's view of the best treatment options for each.

Healthy Recipes
Discover a treasure trove of healthy, healing foods and creative, delicious ways to prepare them.

Q&A Library
Over 2,000 questions from you
and their corresponding answers
from Dr. Weil.

 
Copyright © 2014 Weil Lifestyle, LLC
Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment.

Ad Choice
Advertising Notice

This Site and third parties who place advertisements on this Site may collect and use information about your visits to this Site and other websites in order to provide advertisements about goods and services of interest to you. If you would like to obtain more information about these advertising practices and to make choices about online behavioral advertising, please click here