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How To Eat Fish In A Healthy And Sustainable Way

by c-incognito

Our fish-eating habits wreak havoc on the marine ecosystem. Over the past half-century, our fish consumption has more than doubled, thus outpacing the population growth. The fish population has been heavily exploited, so there’s no wonder it has decreased by 50% since 1970. Here are the main factors that have contributed to this situation:

Fishing Way Too Much: Mass fishing is one of the biggest issues.

Bycatch: When fishermen use large nets to catch specific breeds, they usually end up catching other types of marine life. Even though they toss these animals back into the sea, the dismal survival rates affect these populations, bringing some of them on the verge of extinction.

Habitat Destruction: Intrusive boating and fishing practices that lead to the destruction of the natural habitat of many marine species.

Climate Change: The global warming of the oceans has had a negative impact on fish stocks.

Increasing Consumer Demand: More and more people have started to eat more fish.

Global Pollution: All of our waste that lands in the ocean take a negative toll on marine life. This includes cosmetics, personal hygiene items, cleaning products, and even clothing.

Is Sustainable Seafood Always A Healthy Choice?

The main issue when choosing what fish to eat is to identify those options that are both nutritious and sustainable. While most fish are rich in protein, B12, Vitamin D, and omega-3 fatty acids, they may also contain ocean contaminants or antibiotics in high amounts. If most consumers are aware of the difference between farmed and caught fish, we don’t always consider other factors such as the bio-accumulation of hormones, plastics, antibiotics, and heavy metals that could affect our health. In this respect, breeding fish in a controlled environment could be a solution to lower its toxic potential. See here if you have ever wondered what is the best smoked salmon?.

For instance, sustainable fish may contain high amounts of microplastics that can promote an inflammatory response, or take a toll on the gut microbiome. Heavy metals, also, are a known cause of a wide range of toxic health effects. As far as I know, there’s no list of safe fish species, so we can’t know how to avoid various pollutants or contaminants. Mercury is one of the very few contaminants we have enough info on, in order to avoid it. However, there’s no exhaustive list, at least to my knowledge.

Even fish that bears the “Ocean Wise” seal of sustainability isn’t guaranteed to be 100 per cent safe from a health point of view. If something is good for the environment, this doesn’t make it good for us, as well.

Wild vs. Farmed Fish

Wild salmon comes from natural habitats (rivers, oceans, lakes, etc.) while farmed salmon are bred in special tanks and fed specific foods that replicate the macronutrient content of a natural diet. Most people agree that wild salmon is healthier than farmed fish. In most cases, this assumption makes sense. However, even though farming is a sustainable way of getting our daily fish fixed, there are major nutrition differences between the two.

Wild salmon has a higher mineral content and a better omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids ratio than farmed salmon. When the omega-6 fatty acid content is too high, excess consumption may promote inflammation in the body. Also, farmed salmon has a lower DHA content than wild salmon.



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