Types of Fish To Avoid

Jennifer Ezeokoli
Jennifer Ezeokoli
Jennifer is a food enthusiast, Writer/Content Creator. Driven by passion, as the Head of content for African Food Network, she strives to curate exciting, fun, informative and functional content.
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Fish is a very good source of omega-3 fatty acids essential for the body. These nutrients are beneficial in keeping our brain and heart healthy. Our body does not produce omega-3 fatty acids, so we need to eat fish to get them. Fishes are also high in protein and low in fats, making them a healthy food source.

Fishes can be a superfood or a toxic food, depending on your choice of fish. Some fishes are toxic due to mining, sewage, fossil fuel emissions, and heavy metals that accumulate in waters and build up in the fish. Although water poisoning by the chemicals is low, it is still enough to contaminate the fish, making them a real threat to health when eaten. 

8 Fish To Avoid


Tilapia fish is one of the leading inflammatory diets. It contains very low levels of omega-3 fatty acids and high levels of inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids so it’s a fish to avoid. Eating tilapia fish sustains high levels of inflammation in the body, and these inflammations worsen the symptoms of autoimmune disorders.

They may also be linked to chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. If you must eat tilapia fish, avoid eating the ones gotten from China and go for those fishes that are wild-caught rather than farmed.

fish to avoid


Caviar is the egg of an ancient fish called Beluga sturgeon. This fish is in trouble of extinction because they have been widely fished for caviar, which is worth lots of money. They may become extinct if enforcement is not made to stop fishing them. If you cannot give up caviar, try eating it from blue sturgeons raised in aquaculture systems; they are a more sustainable alternative.

Caviar 1

Chilean Seabass

Seafood distributors started marketing this fish, which is common on most restaurant menus. This has generated the problem of overfishing, and now this fish species is in trouble of extinction. Also, Chilean seabass is a fish to avoid because it contains high mercury level, making it a toxic fish.

Chilean Seabass 1


Eel fish are slow to mature and have been overfished in many parts of the world. Eels also readily absorb and store harmful chemicals and contaminants such as polychlorinated biphenyls and flame retardants, making them very toxic fish to avoid. River eels are so contaminated that even adults are advised not to eat more than one eel yearly.

Eel 1

Farmed Salmon

Most of the salmon consumed in countries is farmed salmon, the unhealthiest kind. This is major because farmed salmon fishes are raised in conditions that involve pesticides, faeces, bacteria, and parasites.

Studies have shown that farmed salmon is more likely to contain harmful contaminants like polychlorinated biphenyls linked to insulin resistance, obesity, stroke, and cancer. They are also higher in inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids because they are often treated with antibiotics. If you must eat farmed salmon, skip the Atlantic salmon and opt for wild-caught Alaskan salmon.

Farmed Salmon 1

Imported Catfish

A study done in 2016 showed that 70-80% of imported catfishes were contaminated by vibrio bacteria, which is the microbe behind most cases of shellfish poisoning. Farming catfish has led to the destruction of river life and wetlands.

Also, this fish factory farming method results in fish swimming in waste and sludge. Imported catfish are treated with a broad range of antibiotics, pesticides, and disinfectants, which makes them toxic and a fish to avoid.

Imported Catfish 1

Imported Farmed Shrimp

Farmed shrimp accounts for about 90% of the shrimp we consume. Italian researchers have discovered that 4-hexylresorcinol, a food additive used to prevent discoloration in shrimp, could reduce sperm count in men and increase breast cancer risk in women.

Also, most pesticides used globally in shrimp production are banned in US shrimp farms. Shrimp farm ponds are usually treated with harmful chemicals and pesticides, which harm health when consumed.

King Mackerel

Food and Drug Administration warns women and children not to take king mackerel because they have been shown to have high mercury levels, it’s fish to avoid at all cost. The Atlantic mackerel is a better option for eating mackerel fish because they are high in omega-3 fatty acids and very low in mercury.

King Mackerel 1

The issue of finding safer seafood can be challenging and requires you to consider many factors, including sustainability, nutritional value, mercury levels, and risk of contamination with pollutants, pesticides, or harmful chemicals. Choose fishes rich in omega-3 fatty acids, low in environmental contaminants, and ecologically friendly. Fishes like;

  • Sardines
  • Anchovies
  • Sablefish
  • Albacore tuna
  • Arctic char

Which Fish is Worst Mercury?

The fish with the highest mercury levels typically belong to huge, predatory species, such as sharks, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish. As they take in smaller fish with lower mercury levels, mercury accumulates in their flesh.

To reduce mercury exposure, choose lower-mercury seafood such as salmon, sardines, and trout, which are safer and include essential nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids.

Fishes to Avoid During Pregnancy

During pregnancy, it’s essential to avoid fish with high mercury content, as it can harm fetal development. Species like shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish are best avoided, as they accumulate mercury in their tissues.

Mercury exposure can lead to neurological and developmental issues in the developing baby. Opt for safer choices like salmon, sardines, and trout, which are lower in mercury and provide vital nutrients, including omega-3 fatty acids, benefiting both the mother and the baby’s health.

Prioritizing low-mercury fish ensures a healthier pregnancy and reduces potential risks associated with mercury intake.



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Jennifer Ezeokoli
Jennifer Ezeokoli
Jennifer is a food enthusiast, Writer/Content Creator. Driven by passion, as the Head of content for African Food Network, she strives to curate exciting, fun, informative and functional content.

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