Whether freshwater fish or saltwater fish is better for you is not important. What’s important is which fish and shellfish contain the lowest amounts of mercury (more specifically, methylmercury).
Equally important is which fish has the most omega-3 fatty acids, which is important to your health.
Fish and Rice Diets
People eat more fish and rice in the Asian countries, like Japan and the Philippines, than anywhere else. Filipinos consider themselves poor if they can only eat fish and rice. They don’t know how wrong they are.
Many fish varieties, along with shellfish, contain important omega-3 fatty acids which add to overall health more than other types of meat (like beef, pork, etc.). People who have regular servings of fish in their diet tend to live longer than those who don’t.
I add fish to my diet when possible and I’ve managed to eat tuna at least once per week (usually in a tuna salad sandwich), which is what authorities recommend as a limit due to the levels of mercury found in most tuna. I disagree with the authorities because tuna has selenium as well, which counteracts mercury.
Fish with the Lowest Levels of Mercury
According to the US FDA chart of “Mercury Levels in Commercial Fish and Shellfish“, some fish that I see eaten the most in the Philippines are on the list as having the lowest amount of mercury.
The fish (and shellfish and whatever) that I’ve seen eaten are, in no particular order: Clam, shrimp, squid, octopus, mackerel, tilapia, milkfish, sardine and even some tuna (but not very often). The dried fish varieties are also eaten a lot, but I can’t remember the names of the fish.
I am not particularly fond of fish. I prefer beef, but I think I need to change my ways. I like clams, mussels and oysters if they’re cooked. I don’t like anything raw. It’s has been more than 30 years since I ate sardines (as a teenager) and I need to add them to my diet. I didn’t like sardines back then, but our tastes change as we grow older. At one time I couldn’t stand corned beef either, but now I like it.
Fish with Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids benefit the heart of healthy people as well as those at high risk of (or already have) cardiovascular disease. Coincidentally, most of the fish that have the lowest mercury levels have the most omega-3 fatty acids. I wonder if there’s a correlation somewhere. Somehow I doubt it because some of the fish with the highest levels of mercury also have a high level of the acids, like tuna.
Speaking of tuna, the chicken of the sea… In the film feature titled Finding Nemo, Nemo was a clownfish. Anyone who remembers “Charlie the Tuna”, the mascot for StarKist, would know that Nemo should have been a tuna. Why? Charlie the Tuna was based on actor-songwriter Henry Nemo. How’s that for some totally irrelevant information? I just threw that in there to irritate you.
The gist of all this is simple. Eat more fish and less of every other kind of animal. I am an official member of PETA (People Eating Tasty Animals) and some fish are definitely tasty.