Fish are an excellent source of lean protein and are high in omega 3 fatty acids. If you’re not sure about the healthiest fish to eat, I’m going to list 10 of my favorites that have great taste and texture and plenty of health benefits.
I’m always looking for ways to add healthy fats and protein to my diet through foods that also taste great. I’ve found that eating fish is the healthiest way to do this.
Fish are a healthy source of protein. They’re also low in saturated fats. Besides being a high protein food, they are an excellent source of omega 3 fatty acids, which are good for heart health.
What are the healthiest fish to eat as part of a balanced diet? I’m going to list 10 fish with high levels of nutrients plus great flavor, taste, and texture.
My list includes fish with strong and light textures and those with stronger and milder flavor profiles.
Why You Should Add Fish To Your Diet
The American Heart Association recommends adding seafood and fish to a healthy diet. The recommendation is to eat two servings of fish, particularly oily fish, every week.
They contain omega 3s, which are critical in heart and brain health. But because the human body doesn’t make omega 3s, we need to include them in our diets.
Fish are some of my favorite foods naturally high in omega 3s.
10 Healthiest Fish To Eat
Salmon packs a punch in terms of nutrients, including vitamin B12, vitamin D, potassium, and iron. It’s also low in saturated fat and a good source of protein.
The taste and texture of salmon can vary widely, depending on whether you’re eating wild-caught salmon or farmed salmon.
Wild salmon is typically more expensive, particularly the three wild salmon species rated high in nutrients – coho salmon, sockeye salmon, and chinook salmon.
To be honest, I find canned salmon very convenient, given that anything in the salmon family is healthier than other types of meat and still high in protein content.
Try my quick and easy pan-fried salmon recipe that uses olive oil to cook this healthy fish.
A 4-ounce serving of cod contains less than 100 calories, around 1 gram of fat, and 20 grams of proteins. Now, that’s what I call super healthy!
Cod is an excellent vitamin B3, vitamin B12, and phosphorus source.
This flaky white fish has a mild flavor and is firm enough for broiling and baking. But I find that cod sourced from the Northern Pacific Ocean has greater moisture content and can be a little harder to batter.
Atlantic cod is a great alternative if you’re planning on frying the fish or making other battered fish products. Also, Atlantic cod is sweeter.
- Sea bass
This is a firm yet flaky sustainable fish that is one of the best sources of vitamin A, vitamin B1 (thiamin), vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B6, and phosphorus. One filet of raw sea bass has only 125 calories and nearly 24 grams of protein.
Given its excellent nutritional profile, wild-caught sea bass is preferable, but you can’t go wrong with this fish.
Try my 15-minute sheet pan-baked sea bass recipe that features this delicately flavored fish along with mushrooms and zucchini. A great option for a quick and healthy weeknight dinner!
Sardines are one of the less popular seafood options, and I’m honestly not sure why. This delicious fatty fish from the herring family can be eaten fresh or canned (canned sardines are usually preserved in oil).
Sardines contain virtually all the essential minerals and vitamins and are the best fish to eat if you want to focus on nutrition.
Because you eat the whole fish, including the skin, bones, and organs, sardines contain higher levels of nutrients.
They also have low levels of mercury. More mercury is found in fish like shark, swordfish, and orange roughy. This heavy metal can be harmful to an unborn baby, so pregnant women should avoid these types of fish with higher levels of mercury.
This is a tropical firm fish and it is a relatively small fish. Mahi-mahi has very few bones and a non-fishy smell, so it’s a good alternative if you don’t like seafood odors.
I love cooking mahi-mahi and find that it’s tender and flaky with a delicious flavor. All it needs is a quick sear in a lemon garlic butter sauce, but this is one fish that lends itself well to almost any preparation.
In terms of nutrition, one serving of mahi-mahi contains less than 175 calories and nearly 40 grams of protein, plus it’s a good source of potassium.
Halibut is a light, lean, white fish popular with professional chefs for its mild, slightly sweet flavor. I love that this fish maintains its shape however I cook it – baked, broiled, steamed, poached, grilled, fish sticks, or smoked fish.
My pan-seared halibut piccata recipe is ready in under 30 minutes and is a great way to eat fish on a weeknight or impress guests with an elegant meal.
A 3-oz (85 gram) serving of halibut contains around 115 calories and 20 grams of protein as well as minerals like sodium, potassium, and selenium, so it’s nutritious too.
- Rainbow trout
While most fish are better when they’re wild-caught, trout is an exception. Farmed rainbow trout is actually superior to lake trout because it doesn’t contain contaminants.
Also, Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch rates farmed trout very highly in sustainability standards, so that’s another good reason to eat it.
One filet of trout (rainbow, farmed) contains less than 120 calories and over 17 grams of protein. It’s also a good source of potassium, phosphorus, calcium, and B vitamins.
I love this tender, flaky, soft fish with a delicate nutty flavor!
This oily fish is similar to sardines but is a slightly bigger fish. The omega 3 fatty acids give it a rich, hearty body that I find incredibly satiating, especially when I can get my hands on bigger herring.
I like cooking herring in a creamy sauce, which elevates the sweet and sour flavor of the fish, but you can also try cooking it with wine. I cook herring a lot since it’s available year-round.
Herring is nutritious with only 135 calories in an 85-gram portion size. It’s also a good source of minerals like potassium, iron, selenium, zinc, calcium, and vitamin D.
An 85-gram serving of tuna contains only 110 calories and nearly 25 grams of protein. It’s one of the healthiest fish to eat and is a great source of potassium, iron, calcium, and vitamin A.
In terms of sustainability, yellowfin and albacore sourced from the US are the most sustainable, while ahi tuna (bigeye) and bluefin tuna are not rated as highly.
I find tuna has a juicy, tender texture and meaty taste without being “too fishy.”
My tuna noodle casserole is a great way to enjoy this nutritious fish. Delicious, healthy, comfort food at its best.
A large 116-gram portion of tilapia has only 111 calories and 23 grams of proteins, plus a whole lot of nutrients like vitamin D, calcium, iron, and potassium.
Tilapia fillets have a slightly sweet, mild flavor and a medium flaky-firm texture. They are perfect for seasoning with herbs and spices.
This lemon herb tilapia recipe features thyme and tarragon and contains less than 250 calories. Such an easy dinner to make at the end of a long day when you just want something that’s quick, easy, and healthy.
What Fish Should You Avoid?
All shellfish and fish contain some mercury. However, larger fish like king mackerel, Atlantic mackerel, shark, swordfish, and tilefish have the highest levels of mercury because they live longer and have more time to accumulate this harmful neurotoxin.
Therefore, these fish are not safe to eat, at least not regularly.
Suppose you’re keen to do your bit for the environment. In that case, Greenpeace lists albacore tuna, bluefin tuna, bigeye tuna, Atlantic cod, Atlantic salmon, Atlantic halibut, and Chilean sea bass on its red list.
These species are some of the most overfished marine life. You can help combat overfishing by avoiding them at your supermarket fish counter.
Wrapping Up: The Many Benefits of Eating Fish
I know you can feel overwhelmed when you’re standing in front of the seafood counter at your local supermarket. I hope my list of the healthiest fish to eat will help you make some healthy choices the next time you feel stuck.
There are dozens of ways to cook fish in delicious ways (I’ve included links to some of my favorite recipes). The nutritional value of fish is hard to beat, so they are a great addition to your meal plan.
A quick word of advice before I sign off:
If you have specific health conditions, always consult a healthcare professional or registered dietitian before adding more fish to your diet.