If you want to lower your heart disease risk, make a point to eat fish at least twice a week. Even though fish don't contain much fat, they are one of the best sources for heart-healthy essential omega-3 fats, and help you boost your intake of vitamins A and D, thiamine, calcium, selenium, copper, iron and iodine. Your best bets are the fish highest in omega-3 fats and lowest in mercury and other contaminants.
Herring, Salmon, Mackerel, Trout and Sardines
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends you get at least 500 milligrams of the omega-3 fats EPA and DHA per day. Choose those with the most omega-3 fats, including herring, salmon, mackerel, trout and sardines, and each 3-ounce serving will give you more than a day's worth of these essential fats. These five fish are particularly healthy because they are also among the fish lowest in mercury. Herring, salmon and sardines have the added benefit of being high in vitamin D, which very few foods other than fatty fish contain.
Catfish and Tilapia
If you want a relatively inexpensive fish choice or are more worried about contaminants than omega-3 fats, consider catfish and tilapia. Although they don't give you quite as much of the omega-3 fats -- wild catfish contain 201 milligrams per serving, farmed catfish provide 151 milligrams and tilapia contain 115 milligrams -- they fall into the group of fish with the lowest mercury. Even if you become pregnant, you can safely eat up to 12 ounces of these fish per week. Don't make these the only fish you eat, but eating them as part of a variety of different fish in your diet will help you get the nutrients you need without ingesting too much mercury.
Skipjack Tuna, Canned Light Tuna and Halibut
Skipjack tuna, canned light tuna and halibut are also healthy fish choices. They are relatively high in omega-3 fats, with skipjack tuna containing 278 milligrams per serving, canned light tuna providing 230 milligrams and halibut containing 395 milligrams. They do contain a bit more mercury than some of the other healthy options, but they are still among the lower mercury fish -- even pregnant women can eat up to 36 ounces of them per month. Halibut is a particularly nutritious option because it is also one of the better sources of vitamin D.
Other Healthy Seafood Options
Although not technically fish, if you like seafood feel free to chow down on crab, oysters and scallops, which don't contain a lot of mercury. They are also pretty good sources of omega-3 fats, with crabs containing about 300 to 400 milligrams per serving depending on the type, oysters providing 374 milligrams and scallops containing 310 milligrams. You can increase your vitamin D for the day if you opt for the oysters.
Based in Massachusetts, Jessica Bruso has been writing since 2008. She holds a master of science degree in food policy and applied nutrition and a bachelor of arts degree in international relations, both from Tufts University.