Fishing for the Truth: Wild-Caught vs. Farm-Raised Fish
As we head into the New Year it’s time to reexamine our diets and focus on ways to promote healthy brain function, strong muscles and lower cholesterol. A great way to achieve this is to add more fish to your diet. Fish is a great option, or anyone trying to stay fit or lose weight, and for people struggling with high cholesterol, brain for or sluggish digestion.
Fish is a lean protein, with low amounts of saturated fat, high Omega 3 content, and iron. All the things that are needed to promote healthy cholesterol, proper brain function, lean muscles, and healthy hearts. When it comes to buying fish, there are plenty of choices on the market. You may have noticed fish labeled “Wild Caught” or “Farm Raised”.
There are different schools of thought on which is better for you, and certainly, there are benefits and downsides to each. Wild caught fish is caught in their natural habitats, and farm-raised fish is raised in large tanks, or specifically designated confined areas of lakes, oceans or rivers. I dive deep and compare the two, so can have an easier time picking which option is better for you and your family!
Wild fish spend their lives eating various foods in their natural environment which makes them full of diverse trace minerals. Farmed fish eat the same feed every day, so they are not as full of nutrients. Wild fish wins in this category because of its nutrition benefits. However, farmed fish can be higher in Omega 3 content, as they eat Omega 3 fortified feed.
A big concern in consuming fish is its mercury content. Larger fish such as tuna and swordfish are known to contain more mercury than smaller fish, and pregnant women are advised to avoid large types of fish altogether.
What is the mercury content difference between farmed and wild caught fish? Wild caught fish will generally have some mercury content. Farmed fish that is raised in tanks will have a smaller amount of mercury. However, if the farmed fish is raised in an enclosed area of an ocean or a lake, it will contain the same amount of mercury as wild caught fish.
The verdict: the two are pretty equal, with farmed fish having a slight advantage. Do your homework to find out where exactly the farm fish is raised to get a sense of its mercury content.
Aside from mercury, there are plenty of other contaminants that can be found in both types of fishes. In this instance, farmed fish is thought to have a higher amount of contaminants, as it is raised in contained environments.
Depending on the specific farming environments, there can also be more disease occupancies in farmed fish. Farmed fish are often fed antibiotics, which as you can guess is not so great for you. Winner: Wild-caught fish by a mile!
Wild fish swim long distances in search for food and have a wide variety of options. Thus wild caught fish is leaner. Farmed raised fish is purposefully fattened up with the same type of food daily, so the fat content of farmed fish tends to be higher. Winner: wild caught fish.
Wild fish usually costs slightly more than farmed fish. It might feel good to spend less money at the moment, but if it is costing you your health, in the long run, it might not be all that worth it.
It is a personal choice what option you decide to go with. There are benefits and downsides to both. The important part is that you as a consumer have a choice, and educating yourself and making the right decision for you is your right and responsibility. Happy shopping!