Fish is considered one of the healthier foods out there—but not all fish are created equal. To make sure you’re making the best choices, avoiding ordering these types of fish when eating out at a restaurant.
Yellowfin tuna caught closer to more industrialized locations off North America and Europe can carry 36 times more pollutants than tuna caught in more remote locations, found a recent study from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego. These pollutants include pesticides, flame retardants, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Instead of ordering yellowfin tuna, opt for albacore or skipjack tuna, which contain lower levels of pollutants. If you’re going to have yellowfin, make sure it was fished from somewhere in the West Pacific Ocean rather than the northeast Pacific Ocean or the northeast Atlantic Ocean. These are the best fish to eat—and five you should avoid.
You might be tempted to order some bluefin tuna at a Japanese restaurant, but you might want to think again. “Bluefin have become very overfished, and so we need to give this species time to recuperate,” says Duncan Berry, co-founder of Fishpeople. Pacific Bluefin Tuna especially is threatened with extinction, but Atlantic Bluefin tuna is also endangered, according to International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List. Avoid bluefin tuna, and instead look for albacore tuna belly instead, which still has a rich flavor but is much more sustainable.
Vietnamese catfish (Pangasius)
“This is an inexpensive white fish starting to creep up on a lot of menus in American restaurants,” says Berry. “These farmed fish produce large volumes of waste that pollutes local waters, and they often receive a lot of antibiotics.” A study from the Journal of Food Science and Agriculture also found that between 70 to 80 percent of the pangasius fish sampled were contaminated by Vibriobacteria, which is what causes most cases of shellfish poisoning. To make matters worse, this fish is often labeled sole or grouper on the menu when it’s actually Vietnamese catfish, so you don’t always realize you’re eating it. If you have to have catfish, order one that’s domestic-raised. It’s still farmed, but it won’t be as contaminated as catfish that’s imported. If you’re making fish at home, make sure you avoid these common mistakes people make when cooking fish.