Being some what of a pescatarian it is imperative that I only consume high quality seafood since it is such an important part of my diet (minus occasional dining out). There are many many things to consider when purchasing seafood. At first since I learned many things all at once it was very overwhelming, but now it is more of second nature. I am posting this to provide a quick guide to help guide you in your shopping selection.
1) Wild caught is almost always better than farm raised. Wild caught fish have shown to have very high essential fatty acid compositions compared to farm raised, they also are better quality and tone because they are wild and have endless room to travel and swim. Farm raised also depending on the farm may be contaminated with pollutants, can be fed GMO food and can have antibiotics in them. Now where you get your wild caught food is also important and a good selection requires some geographical as some world events knowledge. For example after hurricane Katrina it would not have been a good idea to eat food from the because there was a lot of contamination from the stagnant water that went in the ocean as well as after the oil spill. Now that some time has passed I will eat from there again. However I will probably never eat from the North Pacific simply because the amount of radioactive pollutants that leaked during the nuclear spill. Also if you care about the environment, you should worry about if it was environmentally caught. Does the company prevent by catch and protect the topography of the ocean floors? There are some environmentally friendly and healthier options of farms however they tend to be very expensive.
2) Packaging matters. If you are buying canned fish does it have preservatives or does the can contain BPA? If it is frozen does it contain preservatives or color enhancers? When was it frozen on the boat which would indicate really fresh fish with little chance for contamination. Also I try not to buy previously frozen fish because you do not know was frozen and it has been refrozen after being thawed and that could increase contamination chances and decrease freshness.
3) The type of seafood matters. Shrimp are delicious but they are also scavengers and do not provide hardly any essential fatty acids as is the case with many bottom feeders. It is important that if you eat scavengers to get them from an either very clean farm or ocean and only indulge once in a while. Likewise very large sea creatures tend to live longer and have higher amounts of fatty acids. This may sound great but a lot of pollutants are fat soluble and the longer a fish lives the more it is exposed to toxins in the water and if it has a high fat profile it can hold on to many more. Fish like these include tuna (sushi type not tuna salad) and swordfish. Only indulge in these once in a while as well. Also if you have the choice of fish fillets choose the lighter ones. The darker flesh is located on the perimeter of the fish and hold the most toxins (ex. mercury). Healthy choices include Salmon, Anchovies, Sardines, Tilapia, Flounder, all mostly smaller cold water fish.
4) How you eat it matters. Are you having sushi? Uncooked fish has a higher chance of passing on live bacteria and parasites to you. It is so delicious so how can you decrease your chances other than by limiting intake? Only eat at very reputable Sushi establishments that have a very skilled Sushi chef and very fresh sushi grade fish. Also be generous with the raw ginger and wasabi and low sodium soy sauce, all of which were originally included with sushi to kill potential contaminates. Also doing a parasite cleanse every so often is not a bad idea.
5) You matter. Are you nursing or pregnant? Avoid all high mercury fish and scavengers. Does your family have young children who will eat it as well? The same goes for them. Raw sushi is also a no no for children, pregnant women, or those with compromised immune systems/pore gut health.
So there you have it! Hopefully this list isn’t too overwhelming and is helpful in choosing all of your seafood purchases. Of course I could expound much more but then each item could be a post in and of itself. I hope you use these points to conduct your own research and reach your own conclusions of what you want to incorporate into your diet.