The Dirty Secret(s) about Sourcing Healthy Seafood

The Dirty Secret(s) about Sourcing Healthy Seafood

Mention seafood and this will probably rank near the top: Omega-3 fatty acids. Nutrients and protein aside, these anti-inflammatory fatty acids are the rockstar nutrients in fish.

The American Heart Association recommends you eat fish at least twice a week. 1 That’s a vague generalization: Not every fish makes the “good-for-you” cut, and eating the wrong seafood can actually create more inflammation and other problems.

Put another way: Eating the wrong fish may actually cause more harm than good.

Shocker: Many commercial fish contain pharmaceutical drugs and even beauty products! One recent study found Seattle fish carry up to 81 ingredients and drugs including Prozac, Advil, Benadryl, Lipitor, and even cocaine. 2

In other words: Choosing the right fish is crucial for staying healthy. But how do you know?

Farm-Raised vs Wild-Caught?

Deciding whether to save money and buy farm-raised fish, instead of wild-caught fish,  can be confusing. Farm-raised fish may come with “friendly” words on the packaging, such as “sustainable” and “organic.”

However, beyond the aforementioned pharmaceuticals, farm-raised fish may also contain heavy metals and other disease-promoting, cancer-triggering persistent organic pollutants.


PCBs end up in the water as a byproduct of many industrial practices. This carcinogen accumulates in the food chain, building up in fish that swim in crowded cages (i.e. farm-raised) and contaminated waters. The most contaminated PCB-rich fish is farm-raised salmon. Yep, there go all its health benefits!

When you eat PCB-heavy fish, they accumulate in your body. Among their problems, high PCB levels can suppress your immune system and create neurodegenerative disorders. 5


PCBs aren’t the only bad news for most farmed fish. To counter the effects of eating foods like grain and soy (decidedly non-fish foods), fish farmers give fish antibiotics to kill the side effects of this unnatural diet. But that creates other problems, including antibiotic resistance in fish and increased morbidity and mortality in people who eat farmed fish. 6

“Frequent use of antibiotics in aquaculture and other industries poses a risk to human health by allowing disease microbes to become resistant to antibiotic treatments – making it more difficult to treat human disease,” says the Coastal Alliance for Aquaculture Reform

Antibiotics are also bad news for your gut microbiome, messing with your gut ecology and creating a very unhappy gut.

Mercury and Other Heavy Metals

Many fish contain a concentrate of metals, including the toxic organic heavy metal, mercury. Your body absorbs these metals, which subsequently have wide-ranging impacts on every organ system, including your nervous system and your gut, and potentially contributing to chronic diseases like thyroid and autoimmune disease.

In general, bigger fish are higher in mercury and other metals, and you should minimize or avoid eating swordfish, tuna and shark.  Visit t he Environmental Working Group’s (EWG’s) Consumer Guide to Buying Seafood  to learn more about the highest- and lowest-mercury fish.

Go Wild for a Happy Gut

Wild-caught fish like Alaskan salmon, Pacific sardines, and Atlantic mackerel provide higher anti-inflammatory omega 3s and so much more. For one, wild-caught fish eat on foods like plankton and small, oily fish like sardines and mackerel that provide omega-3 rich fatty acids as well as vitamins and minerals to support organ function, bone strength, and even your mood.

Because these fish feed on smaller food-chain fish, they reduce your body’s toxic burden. Wild-caught provides these and so many other benefits.

Shop Smart

Can’t find anything appealing that’s wild-caught and meet these criteria at the fish counter?

  • One option : BPA-free canned option.
  • Second option : Buy flash-frozen wild fish at your local supermarket. Flash-frozen is always cheaper than fresh.
  • Even better : Go fresh or canned with wild-caught Vital Choice Wild Seafood .

Further Resources

Buying fish can be confusing, but it doesn’t have to be. Check out the aforementioned Environmental Working Group’s (EWG’s) Consumer Guide to Buying Seafood

One of favorite apps, Seafood Watch , also makes a handy tool to have on your phone when grocery shopping, eating out, and more.Their Seafood Watch partners ensure their fish come from sustainable sources that protect wildlife. 

Wild-Caught at Better Prices

Purchasing wild-caught seafood can be expensive. I love Vital Choice Wild Seafood because they provide the highest-quality fish at reasonable prices, delivered directly to your home.

Bonus: They sell so many other fantastic gut-healthy foods, including blueberries and dark chocolate. Vital Choice is your go-to place for all things healthy and delicious. One of my favorites is the Redtresca™  — custom-cut sockeye salmon bellies.

As a special thank you to my readers –  because this is my absolute favorite place to buy fish and so much more! –   click here to receive 15% off on your first purchase with Vital Choice Wild Seafood . Simply use the code  HAPPYGUT15.

This exclusive 15% off code is for one order and expires 3/31/18, so order today and never miss out on the healthiest fish and so much more! 



1.“Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acids.” American Heart Association,

2.“Seattle-Caught salmon found to contain cocaine, antidepressants and pain relievers.”, 16 July 2017,

3.Meador JP, Yeh A,Young G, Gallagher EP. Contaminants of emerging concern in a large temperate estuary. Environmental Pollution. 2016 June; 213:254-267. (2018). Is farm-raised salmon as healthy as wild? –

5.Steenland K, Bertazzi P, Baccarelli A, Kogevinas M. Dioxin Revisited: Developments Since the 1997 IARC Classification of Dioxin as a Human Carcinogen. Environ Health Perspect. 2004 Sep; 112(13): 1265–1268.

6.”Study identifies antibiotics in farm raised seafood | Aquaculture North America.” Aquaculture North America.  


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