3 of the Healthiest Fish You can Eat in Australia

Our list of the best 3 fish you can eat in Australia. If you have read our post on the best 3 fruits you can eat, you will know that Calorie Counter Australia sets some clear criteria for what determines “the best” of any food type. Based on our criteria of nutrition, price and availability, uniqueness, taste and low-calories, let’s talk about the best 3 fish you can eat.

(PS: If you’re looking for the lowest calorie fish, see our list of fish ranked lowest to highest calories!)

First, consider the three main reasons to choose fish:

  1. High protein – lean fish contains about the same amount of protein as lean beef
  2. Lower omega-6 fat – fish (especially white-fleshed types) contain less omega-6 fatty acids than red meat
  3. Higher omega-3 fat – fish (especially dark-fleshed types) contain more omega-3 fatty acids than most other food sources

Fat and fish

Unless you are getting your daily protein from relatively pure sources like supplements or egg-whites, you are probably taking fats in along with it. This is a good thing, because fats are an essential part of a balanced diet and the human body has developed over millions of years to efficiently digest proteins and fats in the proportions typically found in natural sources.

There are many different types of fat and they come bundled up together. The two that we are most interested in are called 1) omega-3 and 2) omega-6. Both of these fats are necessary for good health yet neither can be made by our bodies, so we must eat foods which contain them or we will become deficient.

Fats, Flipped

Compared to most other sources of protein in the typical Australian diet, fish differ in that the proportion of omega-6 fats to omega-3 fats is flipped. Fish have more 3 and less 6, whereas beef, lamb, pork and chicken have more 6 and less 3.

Whilst there is nothing wrong with omega-6 (omega-6 is crucially important for good health), too much of it can cause a raft of problems related to inflammation. It is therefore a good idea to balance the 6 to 3 ratios by choosing fish 2 or 3 times per week instead of land-based protein.

Starting with, in our opinion, the single best fish you can eat:

Sardines – best of the best 3 fish

If you are a long-time reader of our blog, you will know that we love sardines. There is a boatload of reasons to choose sardines:

  • High protein
  • High omega-3
  • High B vitamins
  • Sustainable – they grow quickly in vast numbers, so low risk of overfishing
  • High calcium, especially when eaten whole
  • High minerals, especially zinc, iron, potassium and magnesium

Another reason to choose sardines is that they live fast and die young, so they do not have enough time to accumulate heavy metals in their bodies. Unlike other ocean fish like long-lived predatory swordfish and tuna which can contain mercury, sardines are a safe choice.

Salmon – second best of the best 3 fish

raw salmon

Number two on the list is salmon, for three main reasons. In addition to bringing the expected benefits you would get from similar fish, salmon wins with:

  • High DHA. DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) is a type of omega-3 fat which is especially important for the central nervous system. It has been linked to improved brain function and nerve health, with some studies showing that it reduces the chance of age-related memory loss.
  • Sustainability. Most salmon sold in Australia is farmed in Tasmania, so there is no risk of overfishing wild salmon stocks. The salmon are fed wild-caught fish like sardines (about 2 kilogrammes of sardines are used to make 1 kilogramme of salmon). As noted above, sardines are sustainable because they grow quickly, reproduce quickly and have a wide oceanic distribution.
  • Great taste. Salmon is much less “fishy” than many other oily fish, so it finds favour with people who do not usually like to eat fish. Fresh is best, but don’t feel bad about including smoked salmon in moderation. Replace canned tuna with canned salmon for a more nutritious, sustainable salad or sandwich.

Cod – third best of the best 3 fish

baked cod

Cod makes our list for two reasons:

  • Low calories. Compared to oily fish and even other white-fleshed fish, cod is very lean. This makes it a great option for calorie-controlled meal plans because it contains about half the calories per weight compared to salmon and other oily fish. Of course, this means that they contain less omega-3 than the oily fish, nevertheless you will get appreciable quantities from a good serving.
  • Iodine and taurine. Cod contains about 9 times more iodine than oily fish like salmon. These minerals are very important for hormone regulation and anti-inflammation, as well as helping to maintain healthy blood pressure.

Hopefully, the main takeaways from this post are clear enough:

  1. eat fish to balance your omega-3/omega-6 intake;
  1. farmed oily fish or those with short life cycles are a safer and more environmentally friendly choice;
  1. white-fleshed fish is much better for your waistline than oily fish.

Want to eat the best sardines in the world? Buy a can here! Want to see all the other fish? See our long list of calories in fish, ranked from lowest to highest.