The Best (and Worst) Seafood for a Healthy, Green Diet

In the summer light tasting meals are what we are all looking for so many people’s thoughts (and shopping lists) turn to seafood. Not all seafood is created equal though, both in terms of nutritional value for humans and the preservation of the environment and marine ecosystems worldwide. So what fish should you be adding to your healthy and eco-friendly menu and which should you avoid? Here are the top three in both categories.

3 Top Seafoods for a Healthy, Green Diet

To make the list, fish must have low levels of contaminants—below 216 parts per billion [ppb] mercury and 11 ppb PCB, be high in omega-3 fatty acids (excellent for your health)  and last but not least come from a sustainable fishery.

  1. Albacore Tuna – Some tunas are high in mercury but that is not true of albacore tuna (the kind you usually find in cans) Albacore gets the number ranking as long (and this is the clincher) it has been pole (or troll) caught. This method catches the smaller fish that have not had time to be exposed to high levels of mercury and pole fishing is kinder in general to the marine population. To ensure that you are picking the best albacore tuna possible do a little research to find out where it was caught or look for the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) blue eco label.
  2. Farmed Mussels and Oysters – Both farmed mussels and oysters are exceptionally good for you as they are packed with omega 3s and iron but they are good for the environment too. Both of them feed of algae and other natural nutrients in the water, which improves water quality and they can even form reefs to house other displaced fish. One cooking tip though, don’t eat them raw that can be very risky.
  3. Wild Caught Alaskan Salmon – Operations along the salmon fishing areas in Alaska are tight. Biologists are posted at river mouths to count how many wild fish return to spawn. If the numbers begin to dwindle, the fishery is closed before it reaches its limits. Water quality is also strictly regulated and the fish that come from these waters are healthy, nutritious and extremely tasty.

Top 3 Seafoods to Avoid

  1. Bluefin Tuna – At the end of 2009 the World Wildlife Fund added the Bluefin tuna to its “10 for 2010” threatened species list. Bluefin tuna are not that good for you either – they contain high levels of mercury and carry an EDF health alert.
  2. Chilean Sea Bass – Because they are so prized for their buttery tasting meat by gourmets everywhere the Chilean Sea Bass has been fished to near depletion in its native cold Antarctic waters. The methods used to catch them – trawling and long lines – hurt other marine life as well.
  3. Orange Roughy – This is a fish that has a long, long lifespan but reproduces only occasionally, making it very vulnerable to overfishing. And because the orange roughy in your freezer could have been as old as 100 (they regularly life that long) then chances are they are full of mercury as well, something that caused the EDF to issue a health advisory.

To learn more about which seafood you should pass on at the grocery store visit Tip the Planet, the fastest growing green wiki on the Internet

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