It's that time of year again, the gyms are more crowded and people seem to be focused on adopting healthier lifestyle habits after indulging over the holidays.
For many of us, our New Year's resolutions involve eating healthier. Therefore, I'm excited to be launching a new nutrition column to help readers achieve a happy and healthy 2014.
Perhaps one of your resolutions is to include more fish in your diet? We've all heard that we should aim to eat two servings of fish per week, and, as a dietitian, I often recommend this to my clients.
However, this often comes with a lot of questions, and rightfully so. Most people are concerned about mercury content, sustainability and choosing a fish high in omega-3s.
The questions of mercury and omega-3 content are pretty straightforward, while the issue of sustainability is more complex. In general, it is the large predatory fish that contains higher levels of mercury.
This includes fresh or frozen tuna, shark, swordfish, marlin, orange roughy and escolar.
Canned albacore tuna is a concern too, if eaten in large quantities.
Omega-3 content is highest in fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, anchovies, herring and sardines.
Whether or not a fish is a sustainable choice depends on several factors, including the health and abundance of the fish population and the fishing method used.
With all of this in mind, can we choose fish that is
high in omega-3s, low in mercury, and good for the environment? The answer is yes, but you have to do your research.
Since we are so fortunate to be on the coast and have access to fresh fish off the docks in Steveston, I thought what a great place to find affordable, fresh, healthy and sustainable fish.
This past weekend I went down to the docks and did some research, and here are my top picks:. Salmon (chum, chinook, sockeye, pink, or Coho): Caught by gillnet
or troll methods are a good choice. Salmon from B.C. caught by these methods are recommended by Ocean Wise, though there are some concerns with B.C.-caught salmon according to SeaChoice. org. However, nutritionally speaking, salmon is a good source of omega-3s and low in mercury.
. Sablefish from B.C., caught by bottom longline, is another sustainable choice, as the population is healthy and this method for catching sablefish results in minimal bycatch (which is when other species are caught unintentionally).
Sablefish is also a source of omega-3s, though it has moderately high levels of mercury, so it is important not to have it too often.
One advantage of buying your fish right off the dock is that you can talk to the fishermen and ask them which fishing method was used to catch the fish, not to mention the price is often lower. A downside is that you have to purchase the whole fish, since it's against regulations to cut fish on the dock.
Of course, there are other sustainable and healthy seafood options, these were just my top picks of what was available that day.
You can also make sustainable choices at the grocery store, as often stores display colour-coded symbols to indicate the choices that are sustainably sourced.
Look for these symbols to help you make a choice that is good for your health and the health of our environment.
Katie Huston is a registered dietitian practising in the heart of Steveston Village. Contact her at www.katiehustonrd.com or email email@example.com.