Fish is certainly considered a major player in the paleo diet, which focuses both on eating natural, clean foods and eliminating toxins while also leveraging optimal nutrient ingestion. While providing both important macro and micronutrients, seafood adds diversity to protein options—extending “meat” choices beyond just land animals. A great source of iodine, omega-3s, vitamins A, E and C, and the ever-important nutrient selenium (which aids in thyroid function and helps prevent oxidative stress), experts agree, keeping it in the rotation of your foods is a good strategy toward both disease prevention and overall wellness!
While one might worry that some fishes contain environmental toxins (such as high levels of mercury, or pollutants if harvested from contaminated waters), eating fish regularly whether it be farm-raised or wild-caught rarely poses significant risk of harm if chosen selectively and if eaten in accordance with moderation recommendations (which are especially important for pregnant women). To always ensure you are getting the most benefit and safety from your seafoods, which can include salmon, shrimp, clams and sardines to name a few, you will want to include a variety in your diet, seek out the highest quality and purchase the freshest available. Not only will fresh fish deliver optimal nutrients, it will taste better, too!
Here are some tips for getting that great catch at your fish market:
- Ask the questions! When choosing a fishmonger, ask other locals and fish-loving friends for recommendations on where to buy. Then, begin to build your own relationship with the persons in charge. Approaching the counter might feel a little awkward at first, but once you’re used to doing this as a matter of course, it will prove well worth the effort—especially at mealtime. Your fishmonger should be able to tell you where your fish came from, optimal choices for the freshest seafood that day and even provide tips on how to make your meal shine!
- Give it a sniff. If you are buying at a reputable location, you can always request to smell the fish before purchasing. Fresh fish will smell clean like the ocean. It should never have a fishy odor. If your market does not allow you to smell the fish, know that you should not be shopping there!
- Sweat the small stuff. When selecting fish for purchase, remember that freshness is really in the details. When fish are past their peak selling point, there are telltale signs for sure. For whole fish, make sure eyes are full and convex, and not sunken. Don’t buy fish that looks dried out. It should have a brightness and appear somewhat shiny. Gills should be red or have a pinkish hue—never purple or brown!
- Check yourself—and your locale! When buying fish, think about your location. If you are near the water, you will want fish potentially coming straight from the docks and not already frozen, as indicated by the word “refreshed.” However, if you are far from the coast, perhaps pre-frozen fish is your best choice, as you don’t want “fresh” fish that’s been sitting on a truck way too long!
- Care about the source. When purchasing fish from a particular seller, you might want to check into their reputability as ethical businessmen toward supporting sustainability efforts and discouraging the utilization of less than best practices for safe fishing, or farm-raising fish. Are they doing their best to obtain wild-caught fish from fisherman that utilize safe-practice fishing? Are these fisherman fishing in safe, clean waters? If fish is farm-raised (as in today’s aquaculture), are their fish free from added hormones and antibiotics (“responsibly farmed”) and are they kind and conscientious in their ethical practices there? You can ask all kinds of questions about where your fish comes from, making each and every purchase one that is optimally safe, nutrient dense and supportive of sustainability.
With these simple strategies not only will you ensure you secure the tastiest morsels of fish, but as well, that they are filled with the most nutrients possible for a healthy life and diet. You will also be ensuring that your fish dollars are not contributing toward the profitability of negative fishing practices like over-fishing or fishing in areas that are not safe, as well as that you aren’t buying from vendors who obtain their fish from less than optimal sources when it comes to consumer end freshness. So, do something good for yourself today, and with the above tips in mind, indulge in one of the fresh treats nature has supplied for us in bounty in our beautiful oceans, rivers and lakes. It’s what the cavemen did!