Fish contains high levels of nutrients and protein, particularly oily fish, such as salmon and tuna. Fish often has less cholesterol and saturated fat than meat, and it is a staple of the healthful Mediterranean diet. Fish also provides vitamins and minerals, including B vitamins, zinc, and iron.

The United States Department of Agriculture recommend that most people eat seafood twice weekly as part of a balanced diet.

Oily fish contains omega-3 fatty acids, which are beneficial fats that humans must obtain from their diet. Omega-3 fatty acids have potential health benefits, such as helping prevent cardiovascular disease.

As fish is a low-fat protein source, incorporating it into the diet can also potentially lead to weight loss.

In this article, we look at eight of the best types of fish to eat, including their nutritional profiles and how to cook them.

Salmon being cut with a knife and forkShare on Pinterest
Salmon is a good source of vitamin D and calcium.

All types of salmon contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are beneficial for heart health.

This fish is also a good source of vitamin D and calcium. However, for higher levels of nutrients, it is better to choose wild-caught salmon rather than farmed salmon.

Wild salmon tends to contain more omega-3s and vitamins and has less saturated fat.

How to cook it

A straightforward way to prepare salmon is to steam it in parchment paper.

To do this:

  1. Chop up and sauté some vegetables, such as carrot or zucchini.
  2. Make a bed of the vegetables on top of the parchment paper.
  3. Place the salmon fillet on top of the vegetables and sprinkle fresh herbs over the top.
  4. Fold the paper to seal the parcel.
  5. Bake the parcel in the oven at a high temperature for 10 minutes or until it flakes with a fork.

Tuna is generally safe to eat in moderation. Some types of tuna contain more mercury than others, and people should make sure that they limit their consumption of these varieties.

Canned white, or albacore, tuna has a higher mercury content than canned light, or skipjack, tuna.

Tuna is low in calories and high in vitamins and protein. A 100 gram (g) serving of skipjack tuna contains 22 g of protein.

People should be aware that certain varieties of tuna, including bluefin tuna, are under threat from overfishing. Where possible, they should choose a type that is not at risk, such as skipjack.

How to cook it

Tuna is easy to prepare. Brush a tuna steak with olive oil and sprinkle it with salt and pepper. Sear on medium-high heat for about 5 minutes until the fish flakes easily.

Most trout that is available in grocery stores is the product of farming in freshwater ponds and concrete raceways, which mimic a flowing river.

There are strict regulations governing trout farming in the U.S., which limit the number of chemicals that farmers can use. This regulation results in lower mercury levels, making this variety of farmed fish a safer and more healthful choice.

Farmed rainbow trout contains 19.94 g of protein per 100 g as well as 4.30 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin B-12.

How to cook it

Baking or grilling trout with some olive oil, lemon juice, and herbs is a simple method of preparation.

Halibut is a firm, white fish with a mild flavor. It may be a good choice for people who do not usually enjoy fish but would like to add it to their diet.

Halibut contains 18.56 g of protein per 100 g and is also a good source of potassium and vitamin D.

How to cook it

It is possible to prepare and eat halibut in a variety of ways.

A simple option is to marinate halibut fillets in a mixture of olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, basil, and parsley. Grill or pan-sear the fillets until they flake easily.

People can add brown rice and vegetables to create a hearty meal.

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Mackerel is high in omega-3 and vitamin B-12.

Mackerel is a firm, white fish with a strong flavor.

It tends to have more omega-3s and vitamin B-12 than other types of fish. Choosing pickled or smoked mackerel may increase the sodium content of the fish, so people should check for this on food labels.

Smaller varieties, such as Atlantic and Spanish mackerel, are better choices because larger fish tend to contain higher levels of mercury.

How to cook it

People can poach mackerel fillets with a little bit of wine, water, sliced onion, and some pepper.

Cod is a flaky, white fish that is easy to prepare.

Cod is a good source of phosphorus, niacin, and vitamin B-12. It is high in protein but low in fat and calories, making it an ideal choice for people who are trying to control their body weight.

How to cook it

Seasoning cod and roasting it in the oven makes it very flavorsome. Serve it with roasted vegetables, such as zucchini, asparagus, onions, and peppers.

Sardines are another oily fish, and they offer a lot of nutritional benefits. Sardines are rich in calcium, iron, selenium, protein, vitamin B-12, and omega-3 fatty acids.

People can enjoy sardines fresh, but they are more commonly available canned or frozen. People eating canned sardines should check the label for oil and sodium content.

How to cook them

Canned sardines can add flavor and texture to a salad.

Herring is another fish that belongs to the sardine family. Herring is a beneficial source of omega-3 fatty acids and also provides 17.96 g of protein and 13.67 mcg of vitamin B-12 in each 100 g.

Pickled or smoked herring has a higher sodium content, which people should be aware of when planning meals.

How to cook it

It is possible to buy boned and filleted herring, which is simple to bake, pan-sear, or grill.

Some people have concerns about eating fish because they worry about its mercury levels. Mercury, a potential contaminant in fish, is a toxic metal that can cause genetic abnormalities or damage to the brain or kidneys.

In general, larger fish contain the most mercury as this metal has had more time to build up in the body of the fish. Eating a variety of fish helps ensure that a person's overall mercury intake is low. People should avoid tilefish from the Gulf of Mexico, shark, swordfish, and king mackerel because these fish contain high levels of mercury.

There are also ethical concerns about overfishing, so people should choose their fish from a sustainable source and avoid varieties that are under threat.

Resources are available to help a person choose healthful types of fish that they can eat without having a significant impact on the environmental. For example, the Monterey Bay Aquarium run a program called Seafood Watch that uses information from health organizations and environmental groups to recommend seafood from all over the world.

Eating fish a couple of times each week is a great way to get lean protein along with important nutrients.

Some types of fish are better choices than others due to a lower likelihood of contaminants, such as mercury.

A doctor can make individual recommendations about the consumption of mercury-containing fish for children, people who are pregnant or breastfeeding, or those with health conditions.