9 Best Fish To Eat

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

Many people know about the exceptional benefits of eating fish, but choosing the best fish to eat can be a challenge. Some fish varieties are high in certain nutrients, but may also contain high levels of mercury. Other popular varieties may be delicious and safe, but lacking in those essential nutrients and healthy fats that people look for in fish. Fortunately, with fish representing about 20% of protein intake for more than 2.5 billion people in the world, there is plenty of research about the best fish to eat.

Best Fish to Eat-Healthy Options

Some of the best fish to eat include Rainbow Trout, Atlantic Salmon, Pacific Sardines, Albacore Tuna, Atlantic Mackerel, Bluefish, Atlantic Herring, Pacific Halibut, Arctic Char and European Anchovy. [1]

Atlantic Salmon

Nutrition – Widely considered as one of the best fish to eat, Atlantic salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, selenium, potassium, phosphorus, vitamin B12, niacin, vitamin B6, and protein. There are also moderate amounts of riboflavin, pantothenic acid, magnesium, copper, zinc, and sodium. There is a considerable level of calories in Atlantic salmon – more than 350 per half-filet, but when eaten in moderation, the other nutrients more than make up for this large calorie count. [2]

Bluefish stacked on a wooden board with lime slices

Bluefish Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Benefits Some of the health benefits you can expect from an Atlantic salmon filet include reduced blood pressure, an improved cholesterol balance, and stronger immune health. This fish helps to increase the bone mineral density, boosts nervous system function, reduces inflammation and speeds up healing.


Nutrition – A single filet of bluefish only adds 190 calories to your daily intake, while also delivering impressive amounts of vitamin B12, selenium, niacin and protein. There are also notable levels of potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, pantothenic acid, zinc, and riboflavin, as well as heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. [3]

Benefits – If you regularly consume bluefish, you can enjoy stronger bones and reduced inflammation, as well as improved metabolic processes. The selenium content adds antioxidant protection to your system, which helps reduce chronic disease, including heart disease, and rheumatoid arthritis. This fish can also help stimulate growth and development, thanks to the high protein content, as well as lower blood pressure and better sleep quality.

Atlantic Herring

Nutrition – Despite the high level of calories per cup – 370 – this small tasty fish delivers more than 115% of your daily requirement in selenium, as well as very high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, vitamin B12, protein, and sodium. Furthermore, there are more moderate levels of vitamin A, riboflavin, phosphorus, calcium, iron and copper. [4]

Benefits – This is known as one of the best fish to eat because it can improve cholesterol balance to protect against heart disease and atherosclerosis, while also improving nervous system function and reducing your risk of chronic disease. The various minerals can help boost bone mineral density, while vitamin A can boost vision health.

Arctic Char

Nutrition – Boasting 20 grams of protein per serving, as well as ample amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, potassium, selenium, and B vitamins, this is certainly one of the best fish to eat. Furthermore, there are only 180 calories in a 100-gram serving size, so this fish can easily fit within your caloric boundaries for the day. [5]

Benefits – With enough Arctic char in your weekly diet, you can ensure that your blood pressure remains under control, while also balancing your cholesterol levels and reducing inflammation throughout the body. This fish can also help with weight loss, due to the high-protein content vs. calorie intake. Finally, with high selenium levels, this fish can reduce oxidative stress, due to the antioxidant properties of that mineral.

European Anchovy

Nutrition – This tiny European fish is rich in niacin, riboflavin, vitamin C, magnesium, folate, vitamin A, vitamin E, and vitamin K, as well as omega-3 fatty acids. A single serving of anchovies (20 grams of filets) also provides notable amounts of protein, calcium, and phosphorus.

Benefits – Snacking on this tiny fish on a regular basis can help you prevent inflammation from conditions like arthritis and gastrointestinal distress. It also aids in improving the bone mineral density and blood-clotting within the body. It can strengthen the immune system and prevent the negative effects of free radicals, while also improving vision, protecting the skin and optimizing your metabolic processes. [6]

Atlantic Mackerel

Nutrition – This globally popular fish is rich in selenium, magnesium, calcium, and potassium, as well as vitamin B12 and vitamin D. There is a good amount of protein in these fishes, as well as about 10% of your daily protein requirements per serving. [7]

Benefits – Eating Atlantic mackerel has been linked to improved circulation, reduced risk of cancer and improved immune health, according to research led by Dr. Andrew Chan at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, US. The proteins present in this fish can also help to speed up the metabolism and aid in weight loss. Also, the presence of various minerals in this fish can help increase the bone mineral density and lower hypertension. [8]

Rainbow Trout

Nutrition – A single filet of rainbow trout can provide more than 60% of your daily protein requirements, as well as nearly 150% of your vitamin B12 intake. There are also high levels of vitamin B6, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, and selenium in the fish. [9]

Benefits – Rainbow trout is one of the best fish to eat because it can lower blood pressure, improve growth and development and optimize immune function. The selenium also acts as a great antioxidant in the body, while omega-3 fatty acids in this fish help to balance cholesterol and manage inflammatory conditions.

Pacific Sardines

Nutrition – These small fishes are packed with selenium, vitamin D, vitamin B12, and vitamin B2 along with omega-3 fatty acids, protein, calcium, and copper. Furthermore, one serving (100 grams) of the fish contains only 200 calories. [10]

Benefits – Thanks to the high protein vs. calorie ratio, this fish is known to help with weight loss, while also improving bone mineral density and improving iron uptake, which can increase circulation. Additionally, the high level of omega-3 fatty acids can lower your risk for cardiovascular disease and soothe inflammation.

Albacore Tuna

Nutrition – With more than 220% of your daily requirements for selenium in a single serving, albacore tuna is one of the best fishes to eat. It also contains more than 100% of your daily requirements of vitamin B3 and vitamin B12. Additionally, there is a high level of vitamin B6, protein, vitamin D, phosphorus, potassium, iodine, and magnesium. [11]

Benefits – This fish is closely linked to improved thyroid function, as well as protection from chronic diseases due to the high level of selenium. Tuna is also associated with improved heart health, lower blood pressure, a faster metabolism, weight loss and a better quality of sleep.

Fishes You Should Avoid

While there are many fishes that are nutrient-dense and extremely healthy, there are many varieties that are low in nutrients and potentially high in toxins. Mercury contamination is a major problem with many types of commercially harvested fishes, even those that are popular in restaurants around the world. Other fishes are bottom feeders, making it difficult to know precisely what other environmental or artificial pollutants are present in the fish. It is always best to choose farm-raised fish or those that are locally sourced from reliable producers. Some of the fish varieties with the worst reputation for toxicity or overfishing include the following:

  • Orange Roughy
  • Farmed Eel
  • Tilapia
  • Imported Catfish
  • Tilefish
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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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