Learn about the health benefits of seafood, how canned seafood compares to fresh, and the importance of sustainably caught fish.
Did you know that fish is among the healthiest foods you can eat? The FDA’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that adults eat at least 8oz of seafood per week while children have 2 to 8oz per week, based on their age range, in order to capitalize on their health benefits . The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends 8 to 12oz of fish that are lower in mercury for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding . This includes skipjack tuna (also known as “light tuna”), anchovies, salmon and sardines .
Read on to learn more about the health benefits of seafood, canned versus fresh options, and why sustainable selections matter.
The health benefits of fish
While many of us have heard that seafood is a healthy choice, we might not know exactly why. Here are some key points to consider.
- Fish is a high quality, lean protein. Protein is an important part of bones, muscles, cartilage, and skin. It is used to repair and build tissue, make important enzymes, regulate hormones, and more .
- EPA and DHA Omega-3 fatty acids, especially important for brain and eye development, are found in fish, shellfish, and marine algae. Omega-3s are a component of the membranes that surround every cell in our bodies. They help provide energy and support functions in our hearts, blood vessels, lungs, immune systems, and endocrine systems . Numerous controlled trials also reveal that these fatty acids may fight depression and increase the effectiveness of antidepressant medications.
- Fish is a great source of important vitamins and minerals which our bodies do not produce on their own . This includes phosphorus, vitamin B12, iron, selenium, zinc, magnesium, potassium, calcium, and vitamin D. All of these are substances that our bodies need to develop and function normally. In fact, fish are among the best dietary sources of vitamin D, which plays a crucial role in fighting fatigue, moodiness and boosting our immune system. When we are low in vitamin D we can feel down or “off.” This is why the “winter blues” can be linked to the limited vitamin D we receive from the sun during these shorter days. Adding fish that are rich in vitamin D to our diet helps give us the nutritional boost that we need to get through the darker days of winter.
- Fish is a heart-healthy food and many studies show that people who eat fish regularly have a lower risk of heart attacks, strokes, and death from heart disease.
- Studies also show that people who eat fish every week have more gray matter (the brain’s major functional tissue) in the parts of the brain that regulate emotion and memory. Fish is also a source of phosphatidylserine, a phospholipid fatty substance that covers and protects the cells in the brain .
Canned fish compared to fresh fish
Canned fish is as healthy a choice as fresh fish, as long as you find tinned seafood products that are 100% pure and free from “extras” like emulsifiers, preservatives, and other additives. Canned options have as many, and sometimes more, EPA and DHA omega-3s as fresh fish , and are also a more affordable and convenient choice thanks to a longer shelf life.
While many think of tuna and salmon when considering canned fish, did you know you can also enjoy canned sardines, anchovies, mackerel, and other fish that are lower on the food chain? Adding smaller, more plentiful species like these into your diet is an easy and delicious way to not only receive all of the nutritional benefits they offer, but also support the biodiversity that our oceans need to remain healthy.
The importance of sustainably caught canned fish
Sustainable seafood is “harvested in an environmentally safe manner with the least amount of impact on the ocean ecosystems and surrounding wildlife.”  If you want to know if the canned fish you are buying is sustainably caught, you can look at information on the label. For example, if you are interested in tuna, look for language that states it is 100% pole & line caught like that found on our Wild Planet tuna cans. With this method of fishing, no nets are used. Fishermen use bait to attract schools of tuna and use a pole & line to catch younger, migratory tuna one-by one.
Sustainable fishing practices are important because they protect our oceans by helping to keep all types of marine life abundant now and for future generations. Large-scale, industrial fishing practices used by many large, commercial tuna brands use wasteful fishing methods including the use of nets, FADs (fish aggregating devices), and long-lines. This leads to bycatch, non-targeted species including endangered sea turtles, sharks, and other fish, being caught and left to die.
When you see a label stating 100% pole & line caught, you can also feel confident that the mercury levels in the tuna are lower. Wild Planet’s canned tuna has mercury levels that are 6-14 times lower than the FDA threshold because the fishermen we partner with catch smaller fish. These fish have accumulated lower levels of mercury than older, larger tuna.
Enjoy fish all year long
Sustainably caught canned seafood can be enjoyed all year long as part of a delicious, nutritious, and convenient snack, lunch, dinner, and even breakfast. If you need inspiration, here are some of our favorite canned fish recipes.
Sardines and Greens Pasta
Smoked sardines, kale, dill, and garlic combine for an incredibly easy and delicious meal.
Classic Tuna Salad Sandwich
This traditional tuna salad sandwich is classic for a reason! Quick and flavorful – made with relish, onion, celery, lemon and 100% pole & line caught Wild Planet tuna.
Anchovy Fried RiceTry this mouth-watering stir-fry featuring our mild anchovies mixed with brown rice, garlic and bell peppers in a sweet and savory sauce.
Spicy Mackerel Fish TacosWho doesn't love a fish taco? This tasty recipe showcasing our mackerel fillets is sure to be a favorite topped with fresh ingredients such as crunchy cabbage and a squeeze of lime.
Wild Salmon Sushi Bowl
Refreshing ginger and creamy avocado bring this salmon sushi bowl to life with its distinct and tantalizing flavors.
By making selective and intentional choices, together we can enjoy the benefits of fish while protecting our oceans and preserving our one wild planet.