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Best and Worst Seafood

Posted 10/12/2017 by UHBlog

Are you cutting back on meat and concerned about getting enough protein? We can help you decide which fish to eat and which to avoid.

Best and Worst Seafoods

Incorporating two servings of fish or seafood into your diet each week could be a boon to your health.

“Fish and seafood contain a lot of protein and are low in saturated fat,” says registered/licensed dietitian and certified diabetes educator Jan Friswold. “Fish, especially fatty fish like salmon and sardines, contains omega-3, which is a known antioxidant that’s beneficial for reducing inflammation and is linked with better health outcomes. It’s also beneficial for pregnant women. Babies born to women who got more omega-3 during pregnancy have better brain and eye development. Doctors even recommend eating fatty fish prior to getting pregnant, so a woman will have sufficient omega-3 in her system.”

If you’re confused about whether the fish of the day is okay, Friswold offers these do's and don'ts about what to eat and what to avoid:


  • Feel comfortable eating farm-raised fish if it was raised in a re-circulating tank. For example, responsibly farmed tilapia from the U.S., Panama, Ecuador and Peru are typically good choices and much more affordable than wild fish. When in doubt, consult reputable websites like the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch site.
  • Determine whether fish from your favorite fishing hole is safe to consume. Many freshwater varieties, such as Lake Erie perch, may be enjoyed once or twice a week. Visit the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency’s Sports Fish Health and Consumption Advisory site for updates.
  • Select firm fish that either lacks a discernible odor or smells like seawater or cucumber. If the fish is whole, make sure the eyes are clear and not sunken in.
  • Store fresh fish in the refrigerator for a day or two.
  • Take advantage of sales. Fish can be divided into individual portions, placed in a zip-tight plastic bag and frozen for future use. Thaw fish in the refrigerator.
  • Aim for about 8 ounces of fish weekly, especially oily fishes such as salmon, sardines and white albacore tuna.
  • Choose scallops, lobster, clams and mussels more often than shrimp if you're concerned about sodium. Check sodium levels on nutrition labels when purchasing prepackaged shrimp.
  • Bake, broil or grill fish and seafood instead of frying. Cook until fish has an internal temperature of 145 degrees and flakes easily.
  • Remove skin and fat from fish, especially lake fish, because that is where potential contaminants could be.


  • Eat farm-raised fish if you aren't sure of the source. They may contain antibiotics, PCBs or mercury.
  • Eat fish with a lot of mercury in them, especially if you're pregnant. These include king mackerel, marlin, orange roughy, shark and big-eye tuna.
  • Consume catfish, bass or other fishes from some Ohio rivers often because they may contain high levels of PCBs, which are linked with cancer. Again, check Ohio EPA's Sports Fish Health and Consumption Advisory site.
  • Purchase fish with a lot of ice crystals on it. That's a sign it has been thawed and refrozen. (Freezing once is fine.)
  • Consume fish or seafood if you are allergic. Some people are allergic to fish, some to seafood and some to both. Possible signs of allergy include skin rash, lumps, hives and, potentially, anaphylaxis. Seek help immediately if you experience any of these symptoms while or after eating fish or seafood.

Friswold suggests incorporating fish into your diet with this easy-to-prepare recipe:

Broiled Tilapia Parmesan

Serves 8
(Each 170 calories, 144 mg sodium and 23 grams lean protein)

  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 Tbsp. softened butter
  • 3 Tbsp. mayonnaise
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • ¼ tsp. dried basil
  • ¼ tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/8 tsp. celery salt
  • 2 lbs. tilapia fillets

Preheat broiler. Grease a baking pan with nonstick cooking spray or line pan with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray. In a small bowl, mix the cheese, butter, mayonnaise, lemon juice and spices. Set aside. Arrange fish in a single layer on the prepared pan. Broil a few inches from the heat for 2-3 minutes. Flip fillets and broil for 2-3 more minutes. Remove fillets from oven and cover the tops with the Parmesan cheese mixture. Broil for 2 minutes or until topping is browned and the fish flakes easily with a fork.

Jan Friswold, RDN, LD, CDE is a registered/licensed dietitian and certified diabetes educator at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center. You can request an appointment with Friswold or any other health care professional online.

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