I recommend fish as part of a healthy, anti-inflammatory diet. However, not all fish provide the same benefits, and some species should be limited or avoided altogether.
Omega-3-rich fish. Omega-3 fatty acids are necessary for sustained physical and mental health. Research indicates that omega-3 fatty acids may help reduce the risk and symptoms of a variety of disorders, and can lower triglyceride levels, increase HDL cholesterol, help minimize inflammation and blood clotting and keep blood vessels healthy. The best sources? Wild-caught Alaskan salmon, canned sockeye salmon, sardines, herring and black cod. Aim for 2-6 servings per week of fish that are high in omega-3s as part of the anti-inflammatory diet.
The Bad – Limit or Avoid:
Large predatory fish. Shark, swordfish, tilefish, king mackerel and white (albacore) tuna may have high levels of mercury. Pregnant women and children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of contaminants, and should avoid these species. (Small catch tuna is OK, as it has high levels of omega-3s.)
Omega-6-rich fish. Farm-raised tilapia is one of the most highly consumed fish in America, yet it has very low levels of beneficial omega-3s and very high levels of potentially detrimental omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-6 fatty acids are pro-inflammatory, and inflammation is known to cause damage to blood vessels, the heart, lung and joint tissues, skin and the digestive tract.
Avoid farmed salmon (also called Atlantic salmon), which is what you typically find in supermarkets, restaurants and fish markets. While less expensive than wild salmon, farmed salmon has a less favorable ratio of Omega 3 to Omega 6.