Eating nutritious foods is important for remaining healthy and maintaining senior independence. If you’re a fish-lover, you’re in luck – fish are typically low in fat and packed with vitamins, antioxidants, protein and healthful omega fatty acids. In fact, the American Heart Association recommends enjoying two servings per week of “fatty” fish like lake trout, sardines, salmon and herring. According to the Washington State Department of Health, a good serving size (measured when the fish is uncooked) is one ounce per 20 pounds of your body weight. For example, if you weigh 140 pounds, seven ounces is the recommended portion size.
Here are some of the most healthy fish and how they’ve been shown to help the body, along with some fish to avoid due to contaminants like mercury and unsustainable fishing practices:
These tiny ocean fish are a sustainable option because they’re available in abundance, which also means they’re cost-effective. Sardines have been given a bad rap as overly salty, stinky or unpalatable, but if you haven’t given them a try, you really should. Add them to a mixed salad as a protein element or use them in a chicken salad-like dish. Sardines are packed with calcium and vitamin D – both important for bone health, among other things. Only three ounces of sardines have more calcium than one cup of skim milk and 30 percent of your daily vitamin D needs. They also have plenty of omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for heart health.
Pacific cod, or pollock, is best known as the main fish in fish sticks. But have you ever tried a pollock fillet? Pollock is packed with selenium – a mineral that researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health recently found can lower your chance of developing type 2 diabetes. Pollock is also cost-effective, low in fat and caught in the wild rather than farmed.
These similar flat fish are high in protein and contain several different vitamins, including 36 percent of the daily recommended value of vitamin B-12. Ensuring you have a generous intake of vitamin B-12 is important because older adults are more prone to vitamin B-12 deficiency than others. Vitamin B-12 is vital in the formation of red blood cells and keeping the immune and nervous systems functioning properly. Flounder and Sole are also good sources of magnesium. If you’re concerned about over-fishing or unsustainable practices, opt for Pacific Sole rather than its counterpart from the Atlantic.
Other healthy fishes are herring, salmon, rainbow trout and U.S. or Central American Tilapia, to name a few.
What to avoid?
Fish like King Mackerel, Marlin, tuna steaks and swordfish should be avoided because they could be contaminated with high levels of mercury. Also, fish such as Bluefin Tuna, Chilean sea bass, Atlantic cod, imported King crab, Monkfish and imported Mahi mahi are unsustainable choices because they are over-fished or caught in a way that is harmful to the marine environment.