All fish aren’t created equal

Most people know that eating fish adds a healthy, lean protein to your diet. Doctors, dietitians and other health and wellness experts recommend adding fish to your diet two to three times per week. But not all fish is equally healthy, and the kinds of fish restaurants serve as healthy options are actually the less-healthy choices.

Salmon dinner

Go Cold Turkey – er, Cold Fish

Fish live in either warm or cold waters. Those that live in cold water have higher amounts of the healthy Omega-3 fatty acids you want. These include salmon, tuna mackerel, sardines, lake trout and herring.

Unfortunately, many restaurants are pushing tilapia as their healthy seafood alternative to a burger or pizza. Like catfish and some other warmwater fish, these contain higher amounts of Omega-6 fats, which might increase your risk for heart disease.

So, is eating tilapia worse than having a bacon cheeseburger? Probably not, but if you’re going to eat fish on a regular basis, stick with coldwater choices.

Farm Raised vs. Wild Caught

Another thing to look for when buying fish is whether it’s farm raised or wild caught. Producers of farm-raised fish claim their product is raised in clean water and fed healthy fish food. Others say farm-raised fish contains antibiotics and other harmful ingredients. If you like salmon, try farm-raised and Pacific wild caught. If you like the wild caught, it’s probably a good idea to stick with that choice.

Beware of Fish Oils

Can you believe how many different brands and bottles of fish oil you see on your grocery store shelves these days? And what’s the difference between each one? Unfortunately, shady marketers are putting “1,000 mgs of fish oil” on virtually every bottle, which sounds like the pills provide your commonly recommended daily dose of Omega-3.

The deception comes from the words “fish oil.” A pill with 1,000 mgs of fish oil might contain as little as 30 percent Omega-3. That means you have to take four pills to get 1,000 mgs of Omega-3. And what’s in the rest of the pill? Potentially harmful toxins, extra fat and other impurities.

Look for fish oil pills that have 1,000 mgs of Omega-3 (EPA and DHA) or up to 3 grams per day (talk to your doctor about your needs). Pills with an enteric coating are easier to digest and prevent fish burps.