You Should Never Eat These 17 Fish, Plus The Best Safer Seafood Options

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Fish is a very powerful food but it can also be a toxic nightmare for your body. All depending on which fish you choose. That is why it is so important to pay attention to (and avoid) fish that you should never eat.

It is incredibly important to get enough omega-3 fatty acids, and certain fish can serve as powerful sources. But due to the problem of wastewater and fossil fuels, heavy metals like mercury end up in water and thus in fish. Unfortunately, mercury poisoning with low levels of contaminated seafood is a real threat and can lead to devastating health effects.

Not only that, but some fish have been caught so much that they are on the verge of collapse, which can have harmful consequences for the ocean ecosystem.

Let’s take a look at the fish you should never eat. As well as some healthier options for the best fish you should eat.

Fish You Should Never Eat


Did you know that eating tilapia is worse than eating bacon? In fact, switching to farmed fish such as tilapia leads to a highly inflammatory diet, according to a 2008 study published in the American Dietetic Association.

Researchers at Wake Forest University School of Medicine say that tilapia is one of the most commonly fish for eating in America. Problem with that? It contains a very low level of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids and, what is worse, a very high level of inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids. Maintaining high levels of inflammation in the body can worsen the symptoms of autoimmune disorders and can be associated with chronic conditions such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

If you have to eat this fish, avoid tilapia from China, where agricultural practices are especially worrying. The best sources are the U.S., Canada, the Netherlands, Ecuador and Peru.

Of course, wild-caught tilapia are very hard to find.

Atlantic Cod

Historically, athletic cod is a species that has been proven to be vital for feeding the New World civilization and the early colonization of the Caribbean Sea. But heavy fishing over the last thousand years has taken its toll. In the late 1990s, a catastrophe struck: fishing failed.

Although the female cod releases more than a hundred million eggs, only a few manage to survive to adulthood.

If you are a fan of cod liver oil, make sure it is not made from Atlantic cod. Instead, opt for Alaskan cod caught by longline, pot or jig.

Atlantic Flatfish (Atlantic halibut, flounder and sole)

Due to historical overfishing and high levels of contamination, these species of fish have been included in the place of fish that you should never eat.

In 2014, Oceana, the largest ocean conservation group in the world, conducted an investigation using data from the National Marine Fisheries Service. The nine worst fisheries in the United States have been identified on the basis of “waste catches”.

They found that commercial fishermen in the U.S. throw about two billion pounds of “by-catch” each year. That’s the equivalent of about half a billion seafood meals. Fishing, which is targeted in California, has been identified as one of the worst.


Beluga sturgeon are ancient fish that are highly sought after for their fish eggs, aka caviar. In fact, this fish grows in very large quantities. It can live up to 100 years and can produce several hundred kilograms of caviar, which can be worth up to 3,500 pounds.

According to Oceana, the fish that produce this prized caviar is in big trouble:

It has completely disappeared from several seas / rivers in which it lived, and scientists fear that it is critically endangered. In other words, it is very vulnerable and to extinction. Without further protection and implementation of existing efforts, we will forever lose one of the largest, most interesting fish in the world.

If you absolutely can’t give up caviar, Seafood Watch recommends caviar from blue sturgeon grown in aquaculture recirculation systems in the United States as a more sustainable alternative.

Chilean Seabass

Other name is Patagonia toothfish. Seafood distributors started selling this fish from the deep sea as “Chilean seabass” because it sounded less intimidating. It was successful. It is now common on menus across the United States, so this species is in serious trouble.

In addition to overfishing, high mercury levels are also problematic.


Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch place “Avoid” Eel because it matures slowly and swims in many parts of the world.
The Eel is incredibly important when it comes to protecting our waters. For example, in the Delaware River, Eels are an integral part of the expansion of shell populations that serve as natural water filters.

In addition to problems with overfishing, Eels tend to easily absorb and store harmful chemicals and contaminants such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and flame retardants. In some states like New Jersey, river Eels are so polluted that even adults are advised not to eat more than one eel a year.

Farmed Salmon

Americans consume a lot of salmon. Unfortunately, most are unhealthy species. In fact, most salmon sold as “Atlantic” salmon are farmed, which means that fish are farmed in conditions often full of pesticidesfeces, bacteria and parasites.

Moreover, studies show that farmed salmon is more likely to contain harmful contaminants such as PCBs, which are pollutants associated with insulin resistance, obesity, cancer and stroke. They are also often treated with antibiotics and tend to contain higher amounts of omega-6 fatty acids.

For a better alternative, skip Atlantic salmon and opt for wild-caught Alaskan salmon instead.

Imported Basa/Swai/Tra/Striped Catfish (Often Labeled “Catfish”)

Although these fish are appearing as trendy new menu items across the United States. Maybe you will get a pangasius fish or swai fish, a much cheaper alternative that wholesalers sell for about $ 2 per pound.

A 2016 study shows that 70-80 percent of pangasius samples were contaminated with Vibriobacteria. It is the microbes behind most cases of shellfish poisoning. In addition, in addition to destroying important river life and wetlands, this way of raising fish results in the swimming of fish in waste and sediment. They are also usually treats with a wide range of antibiotics, in addition to pesticides and disinfectants.

If you see svai, bass, striped catfish or any type of imported catfish on the menu, do not eat.

Imported Farmed Shrimp

Are your shrimp good? When it comes from farmed prawns, which account for about 90 percent of the prawns we consume, the answer is a resounding “no.”

In 2009, Italian researchers found that 4-hexylresorcinol, a food additive used to prevent skin discoloration in shrimp, could reduce sperm count in men and increase the risk of breast cancer in women.

Not only that, but all pesticides used in the world in the production of shrimp are banned for use on American shrimp farms. Pond farms on shrimp farms are also uses harmful chemicals and pesticides, such as malachite green, rotenone and organotin compounds, all of which can have harmful health effects.

If you have to eat shrimp, Monterey Bay’s Seafood Watch recommends the American version or Alaskan shrimp.

Imported King Crab

About 75 percent of king crab sold in the United States are imported from Russia, where unsustainable fishing practices are common.

Since you should avoid imported crabs at all costs, it is important to be completely sure where the king crabs come from before ordering them. If there are claims on the label like “imported” and “Alaskan”, something is obviously wrong.

Other Fish You Should Never Eat

  • Orange Roughy
  • Shark
  • Atlantic Bluefin Tuna
  • Swordfish
  • King Mackerel
  • Grouper
  • Sturgeon

Healthier Fish Options

The best fish options are those that come from sustainable fishing, are low in contaminants and high in omega 3 fatty acids. The Monterey Bay Aquarium naval clock calls this the “Super Green Leaf”.

Fish that match this healthiest fish bill include:

Alaskan salmon caught in the wild

When you choose wild-caught Alaskan salmon, you will enjoy the true health benefits of salmon. In addition to being rich in healthy fats that are good for your heart, salmon is a great source of protein, B vitamins, potassium and selenium.

Pacific sardines

Sardines serve as one of the largest sources of omega-3 fatty acids on the planet. Because fish are lower in the food chain, the level of contamination is low. Sardines are also rich in essential nutrients, including vitamin B12, vitamin D, calcium and selenium.

Atlantic mackerel

This fatty fish is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, along with protein, niacin, selenium and vitamin B12. Keep in mind that mackerel is often sold canned in tons of salt, so soak it well and rinse well before cooking and eating to reduce sodium levels.

“Super Green List.”

Better selection of seafood

Although they contain moderate amounts of mercury, these fish also contain between 100 and 250 milligrams a day in omega-3s, and Seafood Watch classifies them as a “good choice”:

Albacore tuna (caught by troll or pole, from the United States or British Columbia)
Sablefish / Black Cod (from Alaska and the Canadian Pacific)

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