Fish–the best and the worst choices! What’s your grocery store’s scorecard?

Known as “brain food,” fish can have some amazing benefits, including those wonderful omega-3 fatty acids needed by every cell of the body! In order to gain the health benefits and reduce the risks of toxicity, consider the following information as reported by to help you make the best choices.

Imported Catfish: 90% comes from Vietnam where they use antibiotics that are banned in the United States. Since catfish is a bottom feeder and doesn’t have scales, I don’t recommend it. If you eat it, choose domestic farm-raised catfish.

American Eel (aka yellow or silver eel): This is often found in sushi, and is highly contaminated with PCBs and mercury.

Imported Shrimp: This seafood has been found to be the dirtiest of all! 90% is imported from farms that have used antibiotics and is found to be contaminated with residues from chemicals used to clean pens, filth (mouse and rat hair, insect parts), and E. coli. Only 2% of all imported seafood (shrimp, crab, catfish, etc.) gets inspected. I personally avoid shrimp, but a better choice is domestic shrimp. 70% comes from the Gulf of Mexico. Pink shrimp from Oregon is certified under the guidelines of the Marine Stewardship Council.

Atlantic Flatfish (flounder, sole, halibut): These fish are heavily contaminated. Better choices include Pacific halibut or domestically-farmed tilapia.

Atlantic Salmon (wild-caught and farmed): It is illegal to capture wild Atlantic salmon due to their low numbers. Farm-raised salmon are crammed into pens which leads to disease and parasites. Antibiotics and pesticides are used. The FDA is moving forward to approve genetically-modified salmon (“Frankenfood”). It can be sold unlabeled and plans to be farmed off the coast of Panama. Currently, all fish labeled “Atlantic Salmon” come from fish farms. A better choice is to buy wild Alaskan salmon.

Shark: This predatory fish is high in mercury. Better choices are Pacific halibut and Atlantic mackerel (low in contaminants).

Orange Roughy: Contains high levels of mercury. A better choice is yellow snapper.

Atlantic Bluefin Tuna: Contains the highest levels of mercury of all tuna. Choose American or Canadian (not imported) albacore tuna. This tuna is caught while young, so it contains less mercury.

Chilean Sea Bass: High in mercury. U.S. hook-and-line caught haddock is a better choice.

One way to help eliminate mercury from your body is to eat cilantro! Eat it on the side, mix it into salsas and sauces, or just sprinkle it onto your fish or mix into tuna salad. It’s that easy! Green herbs like cilantro also help the body to absorb calcium from fish more efficiently.

To see the 2014 scorecard rankings of 26 major seafood retailers, go to Whole Foods Market came in at #1, and Kroger at #21. Trader Joe’s–#4, Aldi’s–#7, Target–#8, Walmart–#12, HEB–#13, Costco–#15.

Beware of “organic” seafood, because organic fish farms aren’t certified by the U.S. Also, look for sustainably farmed fish (refer to your grocery store’s scorecard). Farmed fish tend to be contaminated with parasitic sea lice, requiring treatment with high-dose toxic chemicals.

Supplement recommendation: Nature’s Sunshine is a trusted source for quality control. Their Super Omega-3 EPA Softgels are a good source for getting more of these anti-inflammatory essential fatty acids, along with DHA for the brain. NSP also makes Flax Seed Oil (liquid or gelcaps), a good vegetarian source of omega-3 fatty acids. You can make “Better Butter” by combining 1/2 cup of unsalted organic butter with 1/2 cup of liquid flax oil. Whip until creamy, and store in the refrigerator.

Keep learning to be healthy!
Lisa Hernandez, Certified Nutritionist
1 Corinthians 10:31–“Whatever you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for God’s glory!”


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