Farm-Raised vs. Wild-Caught Fish
How often do you eat fish? What kind of fish do you prefer? Where do you buy your fish?
These questions are more than important today because what we eat influences our health greatly. I was researching a lot on fish consumption recently and here is some information I’d like to share with you.
First, let me tell you why fish is so beneficial for our bodies. It is simple – fish is a great source of protein, full of essential fatty acids Omega-3, vitamins D and B2, rich in calcium and phosphorus as well as in minerals like iron, zinc, iodine, potassium and magnesium.
There are two main things you need to consider when choosing fish. They are the type of fish and its source.
Let’s talk about it.
Type of fish
Deciding on what type of fish to buy consider its fatty acid profile. Generally, those that live in dark cold waters have a higher percentage of Omega-3 fatty acids. The best ones in this category are wild salmon, rainbow trout, anchovies, sardines, bass, herring, tuna, branzino and dorado. Of course, there are many more species and you may find your local treasure by doing your own research. I am all for looking for local produce.
There aretwo main categories here: farmed and wild fish. Each of them has its pros and cons.
Farmed fish means it was raised in special floating net “farms” near the ocean shore. If you were interested in this subject, you may have already read that farmed fish is not as good as wild one. I tend to agree.
First, let’s check the cons. Farmed fish are cheaper and more available than wild fish. Also with farmed fish, people know they are not taking too much from the ocean thus keeping wild fish quantities at an even level. There is however a few things to consider while shopping for farmed fish, health wise.
Farmed fish usually have more contaminants. This happens due to their diet, which consists of processed small fish that are usually caught in contaminated waters. Speaking of farmed salmon, research showed that it has seven times more polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB), dioxins and pesticides than wild salmon. You can reduce the impact of contamination by grilling the fish, cooking it on higher temperatures and removing theskin before eating. As you see, sushi rolls made with raw farmed salmon are not the best healthy option for your body.
There are 2 things which for me make most of the farmed fish unwelcomed at my table. First one is antibiotics. Farmed fish is prone to diseases and in order to stop it from spreading, farmers often use antibiotics which then accumulate in the fish. This makes human diseases resistant to antibiotic treatment later.
Another thing is the percentage of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids which is dangerously imbalanced. Fish diet now mostly consists of seeds oils mixed in to the fish feed. These seed oils are high in Omega-6 fatty acids which are not bad on their own but when the balance is broken and we consume them too much it leads to heart diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, Parkinson’s disease and cancer.
Wildfish, on the other hand, livein its natural habitat. They are caught in open waters. Due to fact that wild fish live in open waters, they develop differently to farmed fish and it results in adifferencein taste and texture.
Many people prefer the taste of wild fish. Another difference is the color. Wild salmon is naturally bright and has much less fat then farmed once due to his diet while farmed salmon is less vibrant in color. There are special dyes people use to make the flesh more appealing.
Speaking of nutrition, wild fish are richer in Omega-3s and less contaminated than farmed fish. Despite all the benefits, there are some facts you need to know. Wild fish is generally more expensive and is harder to find. In Italy, if you order wild fish in a restaurant it can be 25-45 euro per plate. That’s why I suggestto buy fish from your local fish market. In Milan my favorite is Il Kiosko. http://www.ilkiosko24maggio.it .
How to choose your fish in the market?
The fish should have clear eyes and pleasant color, it should smell nice, not fishy, more like sea. You can always ask your fisherman when the fish have been caught.
If you buy your fish in a supermarket you can always ask for the certificate and also the date when the fish was filleted.
I prefer to buy the whole fish instead of fillet because this way I can easily check if the fish is fresh by the eyes and color of the skin.
Now that you’re aware of the difference you can choose it for yourself. I’d suggest going for the following rules:
- Know your source. In Italy, it is an obligation of a restaurant or a supermarket to write down a source of fish on a menu or label. If there is none you can always ask for certification and they have to bring you. Is it the same where you live? Don’t be afraid to ask, it’s your health on a plate.
- Know the price difference. Wild salmon cannot cost 7 euro for 6 pieces of sashimi. Be prepared to pay more for the wild fish meal.
- Add more local white flesh fish to your diet, be curious.
Your Health Coach,