Safe Fish Eating Tips in Hawaii

November 19, 2010, 10:40 AM HST
* Updated November 19, 10:41 AM
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Most visitors to the islands look forward to eating their share of fresh fish during their tropical travels. Hawaii provides a plethora of seafood options, from the delicate, sweet flavor of mahi-mahi to the more robust texture and flavor of opah. These delectable offerings provide much more than a delicious meal to savor; most fish served in the islands offer a wealth of health benefits as well. We have tips to help you make the most of your seafood experience in the islands.

Nutrition Facts

Common Hawaiian fish like mahi-mahi, ahi, and wahoo offer a variety of nutritional benefits. Mahi-mahi is an excellent source of selenium, niacin and vitamin B6. It also provides potassium and omega-3 fatty acids, which have been proven to contribute to better heart health. Ahi, or tuna, is also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, as well as selenium, niacin, vitamin B12 and magnesium. Wahoo offers the same nutritional benefits as the other two fish, but also packs a hefty punch of phosphorous and more omega-3 acids than the others. All of these fish combine powerful nutritional content with relatively few calories, making it an exceptional option for healthy eating.

How to Prepare Fish

The way fish is prepared will have a major impact on the nutritional content of the dish. The healthiest fish selections will feature fish that is baked, boiled or broiled instead of salted or dried. Deep-fried fish loses nearly all of its health benefits, but adds more fat to the mix. Raw fish may offer some health benefits, but the higher risks involved make it essential to choose your raw fish selection from reputable vendors and restaurants.

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A Word of Warning

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In recent years, much concern has been voiced over the levels of mercury found in some fish. Mercury is a metal that comes from both natural and man-made sources, and can be found in some of the waters where fish live. The mineral enters the fish through their gills and can be passed on to humans who eat the fish. Consuming too much mercury can negatively affect brain function and development, particularly in small children or unborn babies.

No one knows exactly how much mercury is safe to eat and there is no way to eliminate mercury content from fish through cooking it. For this reason, it is best to limit certain types fish consumption to once a week, including butterfish, grouper or mahi-mahi. Wahoo, opah and ono should only be eaten once every two weeks. This is particularly true for young children and pregnant or nursing mothers. By following these simple guidelines, you can reap the full nutritional benefits of Hawaiian fish without worry about too much mercury exposure.

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