What is the healthiest fish to eat? The best choices for you and the planet

Salmon are a great source of omega-3s.

(CNN)We're all trying to make healthier choices, but when it comes to fish, is one type truly better than another? Nutritionally, there's no wrong choice when it comes to seafood as a food group.

"As an animal source, it has one of the lowest amounts of saturated fat in relation to protein," said Lourdes Castro, registered dietitian nutritionist and director of the NYU Food Lab. In addition to being a lean protein, seafood is high in D and B vitamins and minerals like iron, potassium and calcium.
Most crucially, seafood is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential to the cellular makeup of our bodies and can help with our cardiovascular health and immune systems. Because the body can't produce its own omega-3s, all our intake must come from the food we eat.
    "Our diets typically don't contain a lot of omega-3s," said Mary Ellen Camire, professor of food science and human nutrition at the University of Maine. Eating seafood twice a week is one surefire way to increase our intake of these fundamental fatty acids.

      Surprise, it's salmon

      From a nutritional standpoint, salmon is the clear winner of the healthiest fish competition. "Fattier fish from cold water are a better source of omega-3s" than other sources, Camire said, and salmon is king when it comes to the number of grams of omega-3s per ounce.
      The National Institutes of Health recommend that men consume 1.6 grams and women consume 1.1 grams of omega-3s daily, and one 3-ounce serving of nearly every variety of salmon surpasses that quota. Alaskan Chinook salmon (also known as king salmon), Coho salmon and sockeye salmon are three wild salmon species rated the highest in omega-3s.

        Wild or farmed?

        Sustainability is the other part of the equation when it comes to calculating the healthiest fish -- for personal health, the health of fish populations and the planet overall.
        "Today, there are environmentally sustainable sources both on the wild side and the farmed side," said Santi Roberts, senior science manager at the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch.
        Farmed salmon are not only more sustainably managed than in the past but are jumping ahead in terms of omega-3s. "From a nutritional standpoint, it used to be that wild was superior to farmed," Castro said. However, Camire said that with advances in aquaculture, farmers can adjust the diet of their salmon to produce fish that have a higher ratio of omega-3s than their wild counterparts.
        Sustainable aquaculture is also a proactive way for fisheries to address the effects of climate change. "There aren't enough fish in the ocean to feed everyone based on nutritional recommendations for seafood," Castro said.
        Camire agreed. "Wild is a sexy idea," she said, but she questions how wild seafood from Alaska will fare over the next few decades. "In terms of us feeding billions of people and the climate getting hotter, we're going to have to do something differently."

        Other healthy choices and fish to avoid