Ask the Expert: What’s the Catch?

You want to know: Fresh fish, mollusks and crustaceans are awash with nutrients, and the U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend consuming eight to 10 ounces of seafood weekly. But high levels of mercury, sodium and purines can muddy the waters for people with particular risks. So which seafood choices are the healthiest to reel in?

High Blood Pressure or Heart Disease
Fresh shrimp contains sodium from its salty habitat and preservation methods. Reduce portion size if consuming a low-sodium diet. Rinse and remove shrimp tails before cooking to lower sodium content.

Canned seafood (clams, oysters, sardines, tuna and salmon) have added salt to preserve shelf life. Most contain 16 to 18 percent of the daily sodium recommendation. Choose seafood packed in water over oil, which has double the calories and significantly higher fat content.

Tuna, swordfish & shark: When larger fish eat smaller fish, levels of the naturally occurring metal mercury increase, a process known as biomagnification. Limit consumption of predatory fish, and remove any fat and skin to reduce mercury levels.

Anchovies, shellfish, sardines & tuna: These seafood varieties are higher in purines. When broken down by the body, these chemical compounds release uric acid and, in high amounts, form crystals around joints, causing pain and discomfort. Be aware that consuming large amounts of these seafoods can result in flare-ups of this type of arthritis.

Overweight or Obesity
Farmed salmon: Demand for salmon has outpaced wild supply, boosting the popularity of farmed Atlantic salmon. While farm-raised salmon provides valuable omega-3 fatty acids, farm feeding gives the fish a higher calorie, fat and saturated fat content than their wild counterparts. Opt for wild (usually sockeye) salmon whenever possible.

Final Thought: When selecting fish, look for the Marine Stewardship Council stamp. “This great resource lets you know which products have been sustainably sourced, helping to protect our oceans and ensure seafood supplies for years to come,” says Roper St. Francis Healthcare dietitian Erin Miles. Here in the Lowcountry, you can also seek out South Carolina Aquarium Good Catch partners