16 species of fish that are harmful to health that you should avoid eating
Fish can be an important part of a healthy diet, containing essential nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids. That can reduce the likelihood of you developing cardiovascular disease, cancer, Alzheimer's, etc. However, there are some harmful fish species that you should avoid eating.
Unfortunately, due to human industrial activity such as coal-fired electricity generation, smelting, and waste incineration, large amounts of mercury end up in our waterways and subsequently in the fish that swim in them.
Once this mercury enters the marine food chain, it "bioaccumulates." This means that as the smaller fish gradually eat the larger fish, the mercury concentration at each level increases.
Consuming too much mercury can be dangerous to your health and lead to mercury poisoning. For this reason, the FDA and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have issued guidelines regarding the amount of mercury that humans can safely ingest. In addition, the non-profit Environmental Defence Fund (EDF) offered a list of harmful fish that are not recommended to eat.
16 types of harmful fish that you should not eat (or that you should eat less)
Tilapia is one of the most commonly consumed harmful fish, but it contains very low levels of omega-3 and high levels of omega-6. Which is related to high levels of inflammation in the body. Eating a diet with an adequate ratio of omega 3 to 6 fatty acids is important when it comes to treating chronic inflammation.
The main problem with most of the tilapia consumed is that it is farmed, so it will not have the same nutritional profile as wild-caught fish. A 2008 study revealed that current consumption of farmed fish such as tilapia has led to increased consumption of inflammatory fatty acids.
- Atlantic cod
The problem with Atlantic cod is less related to health and more to the environment and fish population. Atlantic cod have been heavily fished for a thousand years, and in the late 1990s the fishery collapsed. The Atlantic cod fishery has declined dramatically since then, but the species has struggled to recover.
Scientists agree that the collapse of the fishery has fundamentally changed the North Atlantic food web, and the species is now considered vulnerable to extinction.
- Atlantic flatfish (halibut, flounder and sole)
This is another case of overfishing and waste. Commercial fisheries have what is known as “bycatch”. Which is when a fish or other marine species are caught involuntarily while searching for other fish.
US fisheries dump about 2 billion pounds of bycatch each year. This equates to approximately half a billion meals.
Caviar is the eggs of the beluga sturgeon, an ancient fish that can live for a hundred years. Their eggs are highly sought after and can be sold for thousands of dollars a kilo. Because of this, this very special fish is also very vulnerable to extinction. The same is true for many other types of sturgeon.
- Chilean Sea Bass
Regarding the environment, this is another species that has been subject to high overfishing. Besides that, it is one of the harmful fish as its high mercury content represents a risk to human health.
This is a fish that you might want to avoid on the sushi menu. Eels are slow to mature and have been overfished in many parts of the world, causing some populations to collapse.
This is problematic because eels play an important role in the spread of mussel populations, which act as natural water filters. Also, eels absorb and store harmful chemicals and pollutants very easily. This is such a problem that in some area’s residents are advised not to eat eel more than once a year.
- Farmed salmon
Most salmon are farmed, and farmed salmon can contain higher amounts of harmful contaminants such as PCBs. Which are linked to a variety of health problems such as insulin resistance, obesity, cancer, and stroke, making it one of the harmful fish.
Farmed Atlantic salmon are also often treated with antibiotics that make them richer in inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids.
- Imported Basa, Swai, and Striped Catfish
Most of the time, these fish are simply labelled "catfish," and you should definitely avoid them. A 2016 study found that between seventy and eighty percent of these fish were contaminated by Vibrio Bacteria, which is what causes most cases of shellfish poisoning.
- Imported farmed shrimp
There are a number of pesticides that are used globally in shrimp production. All but one of them are banned in the United States, for example. On top of that, these shrimps have often been treated with large amounts of antibiotics. So, every time you handle these raw shrimps, you run the risk of becoming infected with bacteria resistant to antibiotics.
- Imported king crab
About three-quarters of all crabs sold in the United States are imported from Russia, where unsustainable fishing practices are very common. Technically, the only crab caught in Alaska is called "Alaskan King Crab."
However, mislabelling these products is incredibly common, so knowing where the crab came from is important. If it says "imported" and "Alaska" on the label, something is wrong and you should stay away from it.
- Orange roughy
These fish can live for several decades and usually do not reach sexual maturity until they are at least twenty years old. They are another species that has been overexploited, but due to their very slow breeding cycles, they have a hard time recovering.
Orange roughy is also known to have high levels of mercury.
Since sharks are at the top of the food chain, they have very high levels of mercury. These are also slow to mature and reproduce, so overfishing has also reduced their populations.
- Atlantic bluefin tuna
Bluefin tuna have been severely overfished and are now considered to be very close to extinction. They are also large predatory fish and therefore contain high levels of mercury.
This is another predatory fish, so once again, mercury is the main concern in this case. In fact, EDF has recommended that women and children avoid swordfish altogether and men consume it no more than once a month.
- King mackerel
Both king mackerel and Spanish mackerel have high levels of mercury and should be avoided, especially in women and children.
The grouper has moderately high levels of mercury and is vulnerable to overfishing. It is also often the subject of seafood fraud. The “grouper” that is for sale is often a cheaper form of fish that has been intentionally mislabelled.
Whatever your option when it comes to eating fish, consider these options, especially when they are near extinction or are contaminated and derived from the sea. Nowadays, it is difficult not to find a sea fish that is not contaminated, with high or low levels of mercury or other harmful substances, and not to mention those that are the product of farms and factories where they are fed and maintained in no way. healthy.