How to Choose Fish for Your Paleo Meals

By Kellyann Petrucci, Melissa Joulwan, Patrick Flynn, Adriana Harlan

Fish is an important part of a Paleo diet. Some people buy only frozen fish and seafood or avoid these versatile and nutritious protein sources altogether because they aren’t sure how to buy quality fresh items. Here are some tips to help you enjoy the healthiest, freshest fish and seafood possible:

  • Go to only the best fishmongers or to a reputable store and ask for the catch of the day. The fish store or counter should never smell fishy or like you’re standing in the middle of a low tide.

  • Fish should have a salty air scent, not a fishy smell.

  • Fish should be firm and shiny, and the fillet should bounce back when you touch it.

  • Fish fillets should be moist, and the flesh shouldn’t separate or be discolored. Gaps in the meat as well as brown or yellow edges are signs of aging.

  • Fish shouldn’t have liquid on the meat. That milky look on fish means the fish is aging.

  • Whole fish should have bright, clear (not cloudy) eyes and bright red gills.

  • Shrimp should be firm and moist with translucent shells.

  • Clams, mussels, and oysters should have tightly closed shells. If the shells gape slightly, tap them with a knife. If they don’t close, discard them.

  • Shucked clams, mussels, and oysters should be plump. Make sure their liquid is clear and slightly opalescent.

You don’t want frankenfish — fish loaded with bad stuff like toxins such as mercury, PCBs, and hormones or antibiotics that you ingest when you eat the fish. Two great resources that can help guide you to the best choices in your area are MontereyBayAquarium.org and Cleanfish.com. Wild-caught, fresh fish is always best!

Fish is filled with omega-3 fatty acids, which are critical to the function of every cell in your body. Unfortunately, most people are deficient in these crucial fatty acids, so finding a clean source of fish or taking purified fish oil or a fish oil tablet to help bump up your levels is worthwhile.