Is Farmed Fish Bad For You? 4 Tips for Shopping Smarter for Seafood

If you find it complicated, this guide can help.

Is Farmed Fish Bad For You? 4 Tips for Shopping Smarter for Seafood

I’ve tried to incorporate more fish into my diet because I know it’s healthy (especially healthier than meat). But I find it hard to know what to buy when there are so many options. And with the usual high price tag that comes with a lot of my options, I can’t really afford to make a mistake. Farm raised, fresh, wild caught, are all buzzwords that perplex me at the grocery store. Is farmed fish bad for you? And how can you make sure to pick out the freshest options at your local store? Author of The Omega Principle and fish expert Paul Greenberg was on The Dr. Oz Show on June 20, 2020 to discuss exactly how to add more fish into your life. Here’s his recommendation for what to look for and the best options to buy.

First Off, Why Are Fish Prices So High?

Both wild and farmed fish can be pricey, depending on the day you go to the grocery store. Greenberg says the reason for the high price tag is because of quantity and demand. For wild fish, there can only be so many fish that are actually caught — therefore if there’s less supply, the prices will be higher. Farmed fish is cheaper, but usually still more expensive than meat because the demand isn’t as high as pork, chicken, and beef. “Americans eat over 200 pounds of ‘land food’ meat and only around 15 pounds of seafood every year,” says Greenberg.

There are ways to buy fish that are more reasonable for your budget. The type of fish you buy impacts the price. For instance, tilapia or cod is cheaper than salmon. You might also want to consider buying frozen fish, which is not only cheaper, but frozen at the peak of freshness so you get delicious fish in individual servings when desired.

Is Tilapia Okay to Buy?

Greenberg says a lot of people have steered clear of tilapia (fresh or frozen) because they’ve heard rumors that they’re “bottom feeders” and don’t think they taste good or fresh. The real reason for their bad reputation, says Greenberg, is that in the beginning stages of tilapia farming, the algae blooms were out of control, which made the fish who were raised in that water taste muddy. But, he says, that’s no longer the case. The industry is more refined and tilapia is not only delicious, but high in protein and easy on the wallet.

Make Sure Your Fish is Farmed in the USA

While wild caught fish are lower in saturated fat than farmed fish, most of the fish available in stores is farm raised. This doesn’t mean farmed fish is unhealthy, but you should know where it’s been raised to ensure you’re consuming the best product. Greenberg advises purchasing fish that were farmed in the U.S. because they have the best standards when it comes to fish. “A lot of foreign countries have more relaxed standards when it comes to the chemicals they use in farming,” says Greenberg. Additionally, fish farms in the U.S. get checked on a regular basis, so if there is an issue with the fish the supplier can easily trace it.

How to Pick Fish for Your Taste & Preference

If you’re looking for specifics about fish selection, Greenberg has more recommendations:

  • Most Mild-Tasting: Barramundi
  • High in Omega-3s: Salmon
  • Budget Pick: Mackerel
  • Low in Mercury: Porgy or Scup

A lot of fish, like salmon and mackerel, are high in omega-3s, which are great for your entire body, but specifically your brain, heart, and eyes. So the next time you go to the grocery store, use this guide to fearlessly pick out the best catch for your family and try something new.


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