When it comes to belly-slimming meals, there’s nothing healthier than a nice piece of fish, right?
Well, that may have been true 100 years ago when Teddy Roosevelt was wrestling wild salmon from the great rivers of the West. But while the sea creature that shows up in your supermarket or on your favorite restaurant menu today may look the same as what our forefathers subsisted on, in many cases it’s not. While the chicken of the sea can be an impeccable source of lean protein and heart-bolstering omega-3 fatty acids, certain varieties and preparations can bloat your belly faster than Ryan Lotche can swim the 300.
It’s all about context: Although wild salmon is high in fat, it actually burns blubber, thanks to its muscle-building protein and high amount of omega-3s, which regulate insulin and reduce appetite. The American Heart Association recommends eating fish that are high in omega-3s twice a week. But just as not all fat is bad, not all seafood is healthy. In fact, these options qualify as worse than junk food.
1. Atlantic Salmon
Atlantic salmon is the Kid Rock album release of the refrigerator section: Always bad news. Although wild salmon is high in omega-3 acids, which fight inflammation throughout the body, farm-raised salmon (all Atlantic salmon is farm-raised) is packed with omega-6s, which actually increase it. Because salmon farmers feed their fish soy, wild salmon has just 114 mg of omega-6s while farmed salmon has around 1,900 mg. Not to mention that farmed salmon are usually dyed pink, and have been found to be high in PCBs and have one-fourth the belly-flattening vitamin D of their wild cousins.
3. Tilefish and Swordfish
These two varieties of fish contain dangerously high levels of mercury, which acts as an endocrine disruptor: A fake hormone that tricks your body into holding on to fat, burning fewer calories, and reducing levels of leptin, a hormone that regulates appetite. Tilefish has the highest mercury level among all varieties of fish, with 1.45 parts of mercury per million (or 45% higher than the USDA allowed maximum). Swordfish is the runner-up, with .995. Similarly, you should always paddle away from shark, king mackerel and orange roughy. As a general rule, the smaller the fish, the lower its level of contaminants. Sardines, scallops, and other pocket-sized sea creatures are among the lowest in mercury, according to FDA data.
4. Spicy Tuna Rolls
5. Shrimp Tempura
6. Most Fish Dishes at Chain Restaurants