In the end, the healthiest fish may simply be the kind you actually eat. But fish poses some obstacles for many people:
Cost can be a concern. Seafood can be pricey, but inexpensive options are available, Halloran says. For example, some of the cheapest fish, such as anchovies and sardines, are also tops in omega-3s. “And canned salmon is not only economical, it’s all wild-caught Alaskan salmon, which is the healthiest type,” she says. She also says light chunk canned tuna is a better pick than pricier albacore because it’s a low-mercury option.
Cooking fish can feel intimidating. People who don’t live in a coastal area where fish is readily available or who didn’t grow up eating a lot of fish might not have the first idea about how to prepare it. “And if they have a couple of bad fish-eating experiences,” Zumpano says, “that can really deter them.” To get started, Halloran recommends taking a filet of flounder or sole—or whatever healthy fish you like—drizzling olive oil on both sides, squeezing a little lemon on top, and broiling until it turns opaque and flaky. And of course, a salmon or tuna salad sandwich will give you fish points for the week. Zumpano also recommends ordering fish at restaurants. “Most Americans eat out at least once a week,” she says, adding that we also tend to take in more calories when we do. Getting broiled fish can help safeguard against that.
Fish tastes like fish. Let’s face it: There are some inveterate fish haters among us. But Halloran suggests giving it one more shot. “Fish goes bad quicker than anything, so make sure that what you’re getting is really fresh,” she says. If you can, buy from a market that gets fresh shipments daily. Fish should smell mild and clean, not fishy or sour. Filets shouldn’t be discolored or dry around the edges, and the flesh should be firm and should spring back when pressed. For whole fish, look for clear, shiny eyes.
What if the fish you like is lower in omega-3s? Eat it anyway. “It’s still good for you,” Zumpano says, “and variety is important.”