According to a new report from the global ocean conservation advocacy group, Oceana, a fair share of fish isn’t what it claims to be. In fact, a shocking 20 percent of seafood samples tested globally were found to be mislabeled. And when you just look at the stats for America, that number shoots up to 30 percent.
Many grocery stores across the nation rename cheap, mercury-laden, or endangered fish as more popular varieties in an attempt to sell more of their stock—and that’s seriously bad news for your health. Most of the “wild” salmon sold in stores, for example, is actually farmed—which isn’t as rich in nutrients like vitamin D and calcium as its free-swimming cousins. It’s also tainted by triple the amount of unhealthy omega-6s, which can cause inflammation when eaten in excess. And these shady fish aren’t just serving you nutrients that can make you pack on weight; a fair share of them could actually be harmful to your wellbeing. In America, 58 percent of fraudulent samples were found to be species that could cause health complications. That means that the halibut you just picked up for dinner tonight may actually be tilefish, a way less desirable fish whose high mercury level earned it a spot on the FDA’s Do Not Eat list.
If those scary stats have turned you off from fish, we totally get it. Until stricter regulations are implemented, you might want to consider taking a break from seafood from stores you don’t fully trust. You can supplement your diet with other, more transparent and sustainable sources of omega-3s and protein. (Thankfully, there are loads of options!) Two tablespoons of chia seeds, for example, provide a hearty serving of omega-3s in addition to 4 grams of protein. Not to mention, unlike fish, their neutral flavor makes them super versatile. You can generously sprinkle them into practically anything, but they fair particularly well in oatmeal and Greek yogurt.
Another simple swap: If you typically make a smoked salmon-topped bagel for breakfast, try a greens-filled omelet instead. Eggs and leafy greens like spinach and kale not only pair well in terms of flavor, they also yield a meal that’s high in both protein and omega-3s like in fatty fish such as tuna and anchovy. And these are the only things filled with healthy fats and protein; all of these 29 Best-Ever Proteins for Weight Loss are potent sources of the muscle-building nutrient and many have plenty of omega-3s, too. That’s what we like to call a win-win.