Adding fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids to your diet twice a week can lead to better cardiovascular health, reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke according to the American Heart Association.
But while tuna and salmon come to mind for most people as sources of omega-3s, experts now say the most nutrient-dense seafood comes from smaller, bivalve fish like clams and the mussels.
According to Christopher Golden, professor of nutrition and planetary health at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, MSNBC incorporating smaller fish and shellfish into your seafood diet can help increase not just your intake of omega-3 fatty acids, but also micronutrients, including zinc, iron, and vitamin B12, which many people are deficient in.
Another advantage of eating smaller fish is that, because they are often eat all the fish (including the skin and bones), they are also rich in calcium and vitamin D.
“Of all the different equestrian and aquatic foods, small fish are the best source of nutrients for this kind of thing by weight,” Golden explained. “So even though they're underutilized, they're really good at delivering those kinds of nutrients”.
The advice is to eat “lower on the seafood chain”; with herring, mackerel, sardines, anchovies, clams, oysters, mussels and scallops that provide the highest nutritional value.
Experts have long touted the health benefits of smaller fish, such as sardines, herring, and mackerel. However, another advantage is that these fish are less likely to have higher levels of mercury than larger fish.
“By eating the smaller fish, you are more likely to have lower levels of mercury. mercury load than some of the larger carnivorous fish,' Golden continued”. “Healthy water bivalves and small fish are really the direction to go.”
Many bivalves and smaller fish also come canned. So they're great for pantry storage and less expensive than fresh fish. Normally we buy fish like sardines that are packed in water or olive oil.
Do your best to avoid salt-cured canned fish such as anchovies, which are high in sodium and can contribute to increased blood pressure.