Omega 3 fatty acids are a super nutrient. They are needed for a healthy heart, brain, bones and eyes. The best source of omega 3 is fish. The challenge is finding a source of fish uncontaminated by toxins like mercury and dioxins.
According to Seafood Watch (an advisory group that provides information on fish sources to consumers and business professionals) some food choices that are the least likely to contain toxins (and least likely to be depleted due to overfishing) are:
1. Pole-caught Albacore Tuna (from cold northern waters). Trolling for tuna with a pole near the water’s surface harvests younger albacore tuna that are naturally lower in mercury and higher in healthy Omega 3 Fatty acids.
2. Salmon (wild-caught, Alaskan). Alaska’s wild-caught salmon is rich in Omega 3 and more sustainable than just about any other salmon fishery.
3. Sardines (Pacific, wild-caught). The tiny, inexpensive sardine is making it onto many lists of superfoods and for good reason. It packs even more omegas per 3 oz serving than salmon, tuna or just about any other food. It is one of the very few foods that’s naturally high in vitamin D.
4. Freshwater Coho Salmon (farmed in indoor recirculating tank systems). Freshwater Coho salmon is the first and only farmed salmon to get a Super Green rating. All other farmed salmon still falls on the Seafood Watch “avoid” list. Many farms use crowded pens, where salmon are easily infected with parasites, may be treated with antibiotics and can spread disease to wild fish (one reason Alaska has banned salmon farms). Also, it can take as much as three pounds of wild fish to raise one pound of salmon. Coho, however, are raised in closed freshwater pens and require less feed, so the environmental impacts are reduced.
5. Oysters (farmed). Okay. technically not a fish. but an important source of omega 3 that is often overlooked. Farmed oysters are good for you. Better yet, they are actually good for the environment. Oysters feed off the natural nutrients and algae in the water, which improves water quality. They can also act as natural reefs, attracting and providing food for other fish.
Others: Arctic Char (farmed), Barramundi (US & Vietnam farmed), Bass (US hooks and lines, farmed), Catfish (US), Clams, Cockles, Mussels, Cod: Pacific (AK), Crab: King, Snow & Tanner (AK), Crab: Stone (US), Crawfish (US farmed), Lionfish (US), Mahi Mahi (US handlines), Mullet: Striped (US), Pompano (US), Rockfish (AK, CA, OR & WA), Salmon (New Zealand) ,Shrimp (US farmed), Snapper: Mutton (US diving, handlines), Sturgeon (US farmed), Tilapia (Canada, Ecuador, Peru & US), Tuna: Skipjack (Pacific trolls, pole and lines), Wahoo (US Atlantic) and Wreckfish.
To download a free consumer guide for healthy fish choices, visit Seafoodwatch.org.