While experts say that regularly eating seafood as part of a healthy diet can aid rapid weight loss efforts, that only holds true if you choose the right kind of fish—and farmed tilapia isn’t one of them. Most people buy it because it’s affordable–but you get what you pay for. The inflammatory potential of farmed tilapia is greater than a burger, doughnuts—even pork bacon! You can boost your chances of having a healthy heart, brain and mood if you simply skip this farmed fish, which is sky-high in omega-6 fats.
To help you get all the much-touted benefits of fish this season, we swam through the murky waters of seafood science to find the best picks. Every fish that made our list is in season through the spring and summer, so the taste and nutrient content will be at its peak.
Don’t let salmon’s relatively high calorie and fat content fool you, this oily fish may be one of the best foods for rapid weight loss. International Journal of Obesity study participants who consumed three 5-ounce servings of salmon per week for four weeks as part of a low-calorie diet lost 2.2 pounds more than participants who consumed a salmon-less diet with the same number of calories. Wild salmon is also rich in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which can help reduce the risk of arrhythmia, decrease triglyceride levels and lower blood pressure. Add some flaked salmon to a salad or serve it with some roasted asparagus and brown rice for a healthy well-rounded meal.
This wild, meaty white fish has a mild flavor that’s perfect for light spring and summer dishes. Not to mention it’s low-cal but filling, making it a perfect weight-loss food. In fact, halibut is the second most filling food out there, bested only by boiled potatoes, according to The Satiety Index of Common Foods, an Australian study published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Experts attribute the filling factor of white fish like halibut to its high protein content and influence on serotonin, one of the primary hormones responsible for regulating appetite.
Research suggests a regular serving of Pacific cod (the fish that’s typically used in fish sticks) can help keep you trim—as long as you steer clear of the breaded and fried variety. To reap the most waist-whittling benefits, consume baked or grilled cod for lunch. Compared to people who consumed beef for lunch, those who ate cod downed 11 percent less at dinner in a European Journal of Clinical Nutrition study. Researchers attribute the satiating and slimming properties to cod’s heavy bulk of high-quality protein (there’s 17 grams in a three ounce serving) and its metabolism-regulating amino acid profile. Still not convinced you should add cod to your shopping cart? In an eight-week study of 120 men, University of Iceland researchers found that when combined with a calorie-restricted diet, participants who consumed cod five times a week lost more weight and visceral fat and showed better improvements in their blood pressure than those who ate cod just one or three times per week.
If you enjoy the taste of trout and salmon, you’ll love this sustainable fish. It provides a solid hit of carotenoids, a group of A vitamins that can decrease body fat and fight back against disease-causing free-radicals. It’s also a good source of omega-3s, which have been shown to ward off everything from stroke and allergies to dementia, and dyslexia. That’s quite the diverse resume of skills! Fresh Arctic char is your best bet if you can find it, but farmed is safe, too. In the U.S., farmed Arctic char is raised in clean tanks as opposed to filthy ocean pens.
Containing more than 100 percent of the day’s recommended intake in a mere one-ounce serving, herring is one of the world’s best sources of vitamin D. In addition to warding off breast and prostate cancer and boosting heart health, the powerful vitamin can help you trim down. A study of overweight and obese research subjects revealed that taking 25 micrograms of vitamin D a day can result in “statistically significant” body fat reduction in just over 12 weeks, according to Nutrition Journal findings. Grill herring and dress with a mixture of mustard, lemon juice and its own oil for a dinner packed with protein and healthy fats. Serve with a side of sautéed kale and some quinoa to round out your plate.