Nutrition Articles

Wild or Farmed Fish: What's Better?

The Pros and Cons for Your Health and the Planet

384SHARES
Cons of Wild Fish
  • Overfishing: Most marine biologists agree that there will not be enough wild-captured fish available to meet the growing demand, and many fisheries do not catch wild fish in a sustainable way. Overfishing can deplete certain species of fish, which affects the ecosystem at large.
  • Price: Fresh wild fish is sometimes hard to find and usually more expensive than farmed fish.
  • Distance traveled: Unfortunately, not every fish lover lives on the coast or near a fishery. An Alaskan salmon, for example, must be shipped thousands of miles to reach a grocery store near you. The shipping of fish all over the world uses fossil fuels and pollutes the environment.
Although there are established health advantages to eating fatty fish, the risks of contaminants can’t be ignored either. All fish, wild or farmed, must adhere to FDA limits for PCB content and mercury levels, but some fish may measure in just below that cutoff. This content can build up in the body over time and cause problems later. However, many scientists believe that the heart-healthy benefits of consuming fish outweigh the risk, especially for older adults who may have already had a heart attack. But younger consumers, especially woman who may become pregnant and have a lifetime of exposure to these pollutants ahead of them, may wish to limit the amount of farmed fish they eat.

Only you can decide whether the cardiovascular benefits of fish outweigh the possible safety, nutritional or environmental issues associated with the type of fish you eat. If you eat fish regularly, ask about its source when ordering at a restaurant and read labels for origin when shopping at the supermarket.

No matter what type of fish or seafood you choose, SparkPeople Dietitian Becky Hand offers these top 5 tips for adults* to enjoy healthy fish:
  1. Make seafood a priority. Enjoy fish or seafood at least twice per week.
  2. Be adventurous. Try various types of seafood that you enjoy.
  3. Reel in fatty fish such as salmon and trout. These offer the most health benefits. If you enjoy lean fish such as tilapia and catfish, think about adding another serving of fatty fish to your weekly dinner menu to make up for it.
  4. Don't skimp on lean fish. They're healthy, too! Aside from being low in fat and calories, lean fish and shellfish are also loaded with micronutrients that are necessary for good health. For example, tilapia is high in selenium; clams are high in iron; and oysters are high in zinc.
  5. Prepare fish properly. Use low-fat cooking techniques such as broiling, baking, stir-frying, and sautéing. Avoid fried fish and highly processed fish foods such as fish sticks. Season with herbs, spices, marinades and rubs.
*These fish guidelines apply to adults who are not pregnant or breastfeeding. Seafood guidelines are different for children and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Editor's Note: For more information on a variety of fish, sushi and seafood, including printable pocket-size reference guides, visit: www.MontereyBayAquarium.org or the Washington State Department of Health.

This article has been reviewed and approved by SparkPeople nutrition expert, Becky Hand, Licensed and Registered Dietitian.
‹ Previous Page   Page 4 of 3  
384SHARES

Advertisement -- Learn more about ads on this site.

More Great Features

Connect With SparkPeople

Subscribe to our Newsletters

About The Author

Liza Barnes Liza Barnes
Liza has two bachelor's degrees: one in health promotion and education and a second in nursing. A registered nurse and mother, regular exercise and cooking are top priorities for her. See all of Liza's articles.

Member Comments

  • I would NEVER eat farmed salmon. It is just farmed Atlantic salmon . I'm not big on eating something that is covered in sea lice and swimming in its own excrement. I'm a Sockeye girl. Pacific salmon, caught in my own backyard and cooked on a cedar plank. The only way to eat it. - 10/1/2014 8:50:27 PM
  • Very informative article and I appreciate your comments also. - 9/18/2014 9:25:01 AM
  • I will only eat wild salmon. If you have ever been around a fish farm you would not eat the fish. It smells and the sea bed is dead under the farmed fish. Sorry you won't get me eating farmed salmon. - 5/10/2014 10:11:34 PM
  • I enjoyed the article. It was very informative. I buy wild salmon instead of farmed. I didn't know, until I read the article, that tilapia and catfish are lean fish. We eat both of those every chance we get. I usually stick to one slice of tilapia and catfish but now that I know that they are lean, I think I'll enjoy that "extra" piece. I love to cook it in olive oil with different herbs. - 5/8/2014 2:26:10 AM
  • I love to eat my fish. I can have fish every day. But what a great article. - 12/21/2013 8:28:57 AM
  • Great article. When I buy fish, I only spend my money on wild-caught. Fish is a bit more expensive than some other forms of protein, but it's good for us, and I don't mind spending a little more to avoid getting healthier fish are aren't loaded up with antibiotics, etc. - 12/14/2013 5:06:17 PM
  • Thanks so much for the very informative "Fish" article!! That was really worth the read.

    Great write up!! Thanks again,
    gmondello - 2/21/2013 1:19:36 PM
  • Thank you for the great information. When I started SP, I also began reading all the labels on all the food I purchase. For fish, I was shocked to find that so much of the fish in our markets is farmed and raised in China, Vietnam and New Zealand. I personally want to enjoy fish caught closer to home, so I go for wild pacific or none at all. I have a new love for fish, wish I could have my own fish farm! - 5/26/2012 11:15:01 AM
  • I go 100% by price. I know fish is good for me, and tuna is a good fish. So I buy tuna canned in water (5 oz cans) when they are seriously on sale (55 to 70 cents) When I have enough food, I eat a whole can, otherwise I make it into two meals. Whiting and Swai fish are often on sale - and one fish is dinner for two of us, Each fish always comes to under a dollar when it's on sale. I wish I could think about other considerations - like what's good for the ecology - but I have to worry daily about getting something to eat. So price is all that really matters to me. I only get salmon when I'm not paying for it. (RARE) - 5/24/2012 1:45:07 PM
  • Thank you so much for clarifing this issue to the readers. I agree with the article. I live in So. Cal. It is easier than most places to get wild caught. However, I wonder about the quality of fish that is "flash frozen" at sea. Also, the article did not address wild caught fish in different countries. I often wonder do they adhere to the same scrutiny we have here in the States. Canada seems ok but what about fish in Vietnam or Brazil?? - 3/11/2011 10:11:37 AM
  • I have made it a habit to eat only wild and organic meats. I work in foodservice and have no problem watching what I eat. - 2/11/2011 5:33:42 PM
  • If you're buying salmon, please buy wild. The farmed salmon spreads disease to the wild population, and buying it supports the market! Since the farm salmon are given antibiotics, they can survive, but their wild counterparts are not so lucky. - 2/11/2011 4:12:31 PM
  • I had some farmed salmon once, and I won't knowingly ever buy it again. It was soft, mushy, and had an unusual color.
    Luckily, since I live in Alaska, the salmon I buy does not have to "travel thousands of miles" making them an expensive alternative.
    I like salmon so much and it's so healthy, I even used canned salmon instead of tuna for my "tuna" sandwiches. - 4/24/2010 10:20:06 PM
  • the only fish we usually eat is what we have cought our selves. yes we know the risks but we like the taste better. fresh salmon cought at the local creek tastes better than any frozen or "fresh" we could buy in the market. - 4/20/2010 9:06:20 AM
  • I just grilled some salmon and had some grilled shrimp a few days ago for dinner. They were delicious! I'm enjoying my toaster oven and all its features! - 3/16/2010 9:38:54 AM

x Lose 10 Pounds by February 7! Get a FREE Personalized Plan