24 Healthy Types of Seafood: the Best Options

Last Updated on June 18, 2022 by Michael Joseph

An Illustration Showing Various Types of Healthy Seafood - Fish and Shellfish.

Seafood represents a diverse range of food that includes fish, shellfish, and sea vegetables.

There are all kinds of different seafood, and they are some of the most nutrient-dense foods we can eat.

Additionally, they are an important source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for our overall health.

This article examines numerous healthy types of seafood alongside their nutrition profile, omega-3 content, and the top three nutrients they contain.

If you are looking for a healthier diet, then including some of these foods is a great way to start.

1) Salmon (Wild)

Salmon is one of the most popular fish in the world, which is quite easy to understand given how delicious it tastes.

Also, salmon comes in all different shapes and sizes, and there are numerous popular species of salmon (see here for a full guide to the differences).

Salmon is also a versatile food choice, and we can eat it fresh, as raw fish (sashimi) or in canned form for convenience.

Nutritionally, salmon contains an impressive range of beneficial nutrients as well as some interesting bioactive compounds such as astaxanthin.

Astaxanthin is a carotenoid compound, and randomized controlled trials suggest that it may potentially help to improve human skin’s UV resistance (1).

Additionally, salmon is extremely rich in essential omega-3 fatty acids.

Here is salmon’s nutrition profile and key nutrients per 100 g (2);

  • Calories: 216 kcal
  • Carbohydrate: 0 g
  • Fat: 11 g
  • Omega-3: 1424 mg
  • Omega-6: 113 mg
  • Protein: 27 g

Key Nutrients

  • Vitamin B12: 97% DV
  • Selenium: 54% DV
  • Niacin: 33% DV

See this full overview of salmon’s benefits for a complete guide.

Key Point: Salmon is rich in protein, omega-3 and contains high amounts of vitamin B12 and selenium.

2) Oysters

An Oyster Within Its Shell.

With a slimy appearance, people seem to either love or hate this type of mollusk shellfish.

However, oysters are one of the healthiest seafood options.

Alongside organ meats like liver, oysters are one of the most nutrient-dense foods out there.

We can either eat them raw or cooked, and they provide a substantial amount of Zinc, copper, and B vitamins.

Additionally, oysters are a rare food source of vitamin D.

Here is a look at their nutritional value per 100 g (3):

  • Calories: 68 kcal
  • Carbohydrate: 3.9 g
  • Fat: 2.5 g
  • Omega-3: 672 mg
  • Omega-6: 58 mg
  • Protein: 7 g

Key Nutrients

  • Zinc: 605% DV
  • Vitamin B12: 324% DV
  • Copper: 223% DV
Key Point: Oysters offer an unbelievably high amount of nutrition for very little calories.

3) Trout

Trout is a cousin of salmon, and the two fish have a similar appearance.

The taste is also somewhat similar, but trout has a milder flavor than salmon, which could be a positive or a negative depending on personal preference.

Both of these fish share some positive traits too; specifically, they are high in omega-3, low in mercury, and offer an excellent source of vitamins and minerals.

For a tasty meal, try cooking trout in a lemon butter sauce.

You can find some recipes in this full guide to rainbow trout.

Per 100 g, trout offers (4):

  • Calories: 148 kcal
  • Carbohydrate: 0 g
  • Fat: 6.6 g
  • Omega-3: 1068 mg
  • Omega-6: 175 mg
  • Protein: 20.8 g

Key Nutrients

  • Vitamin B12: 130% DV
  • Manganese: 43% DV
  • Phosphorus: 24% DV
Key Point: Trout offers a similar nutrient profile to salmon, but with a milder taste.

4) Abalone

An Open Abalone and a Closed Shell.

Similar to oysters, abalone is another shellfish that offers a significant amount of beneficial nutrients.

Although abalone is relatively low in fat, it still manages to provide some omega-3 fatty acids, and it is rich in protein too.

Furthermore, abalone is an excellent source of iodine, an essential trace element that many people are not consuming in sufficient amounts. Approximately 2 billion people around the world have an iodine deficiency (5, 6).

Abalone has a soft and chewy texture and a creamy, salty taste.

Nutritionally, abalone offers the following nutrients per 100 g (7):

  • Calories: 105 kcal
  • Carbohydrate: 6 g
  • Fat: 0.8 g
  • Omega-3: 90 mg
  • Omega-6: 7 mg
  • Protein: 17.1 g

Key Nutrients

  • Selenium: 64% DV
  • Vitamin B5: 30% DV
  • Vitamin K: 29% DV
Key Point: Abalone is a nutritious type of shellfish which is especially popular in Asian cuisine.

5) Octopus

Although octopus is not so “normal” in traditional Western cuisine, it plays a significant part in various cuisines around the world.

For instance, the octopus is a valued part of the diet in countries such as Japan, Korea, Singapore, and several Mediterranean countries.

On the negative side, octopus is one of those foods that people tend to either love or hate. Much of this depends on how the octopus cooks since overcooking can quickly make it too chewy.

To get around this, it is better to cook octopus either slowly on a low-heat or quickly but for a minimal amount of time.

Octopus is one of the healthiest types of seafood, and it has an impressive nutrient profile per 100 g (8):

  • Calories: 82 kcal
  • Carbohydrate: 2.2 g
  • Fat: 1.0 g
  • Omega-3: 163 mg
  • Omega-6: 9 mg
  • Protein: 14.9 g

Key Nutrients

  • Vitamin B12: 333% DV
  • Selenium: 64% DV
  • Iron: 29% DV
Key Point: Octopus may be an acquired taste, but it is very nutrient-dense.

6) Mackerel

Several Cooked Mackerel Fillets With a Sprig of Rosemary.

Mackerel is another oily fish that provides a great source of omega-3.

However, it is worth noting that there are several different species of mackerel, and not all of them are equally healthy.

Atlantic mackerel is the best bet because it contains very little mercury.

However, it is better to avoid King Mackerel and Spanish Mackerel since these fish can contain high amounts of this heavy metal (9).

One of the best things about mackerel is just how affordable it is. While salmon is delicious and very healthy, it can be a struggle for some families to afford.

There is no such problem with mackerel as it tends to sell for about half the price (or less).

In addition to omega-3, mackerel provides a decent range of vitamins and minerals too.

Here is the profile per 100 grams (10):

  • Calories: 205 kcal
  • Carbohydrate: 0 g
  • Fat: 13.9 g
  • Omega-3: 2670 mg
  • Omega-6: 219 mg
  • Protein: 18.6 g

Key Nutrients

  • Vitamin B12: 145% DV
  • Vitamin D: 90% DV
  • Selenium: 63% DV

For a full guide to mackerel, see here.

Key Point: Mackerel provides exceptional amounts of omega-3 and it also provides vitamin D and a range of B vitamins.

7) Herring

Herring is a small and nutritious oily fish that mainly lives in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. However, there are some freshwater varieties too.

Regarding taste, herring are quite strong and flavorful, and they are a little bit salty with a soft texture.

Herring also has an interesting history as a traditional breakfast, particularly in the UK, but also in some areas in North America. This breakfast involves eating herring in their “kippered” state.

Kippers are whole herring fish which have been salted and smoked.

Cooking kippers with a bit of butter is delicious, and they make a great breakfast.

Like other oily fish, herring provides a considerable number of nutrients, and it is one of the best sources of vitamin D (11):

  • Calories: 158 kcal
  • Carbohydrate: 0 g
  • Fat: 9.0 g
  • Omega-3: 1729 mg
  • Omega-6: 130 mg
  • Protein: 18.0 g

Key Nutrients

  • Vitamin D: 407% DV
  • Vitamin B12: 228% DV
  • Selenium: 52% DV
Key Point: Herring is a great source of protein, omega-3 and vitamin D.

8) Squid

A Squid That Has Been Dried.

Squid is otherwise known as calamari, and it is a popular food in cuisines around the world.

Depending on the country, it can be prepared in a range of different ways. In the Mediterranean region, chefs tend to either fry squid or serve it as a stew that incorporates vegetables.

In contrast, people eat it raw in East Asia as sashimi or sushi.

Squid is a very good source of several essential vitamins and minerals, and per 100 g it provides (12):

  • Calories: 92 kcal
  • Carbohydrate: 3.1 g
  • Fat: 1.4 g
  • Omega-3: 496 mg
  • Omega-6: 2 mg
  • Protein: 15.6 g

Key Nutrients

  • Copper: 95% DV
  • Selenium: 64% DV
  • Vitamin B2: 24% DV
Key Point: Squid provides a surprising amount of omega-3 given it is a low-fat food. It is also rich in copper and other minerals.

9) Sardines

Sardines are one of the cheapest and most nutritious fish.

First of all, we eat sardines in their whole form, and this includes the organs and small bones they contain.

As a result, they offer exceptional nutrient density and an excellent non-dairy source of calcium.

Furthermore, sardines provide more than 100% of the daily value for vitamin D. They are also one of the most concentrated sources of omega-3 fatty acids.

Depending on location, sardines may be available in their fresh or frozen form, but canned options are available around the world.

Nutritionally, sardines provide the following nutrients per 100 g (13):

  • Calories: 186 kcal
  • Carbohydrate: 0.7 g
  • Fat: 10.5 g
  • Omega-3: 1693 mg
  • Omega-6: 123 mg
  • Protein: 20.9 g

Key Nutrients

  • Vitamin B12: 150% DV
  • Vitamin D: 120% DV
  • Selenium: 58% DV

For more on their benefits, see this complete guide to sardines.

Key Point: Sardines are a healthy choice of fish that offer an impressive range of nutrients.

10) Seaweed

A Type of Sea Vegetable.

In addition to fish and shellfish, there is another category of seafood that can be incredibly nutrient-dense; sea vegetables.

On the negative side, not many of us eat enough sea vegetables. Most people in Western nations do not eat any at all.

This lack of attention is a shame given how nutritious they are, and they also contain some unique beneficial compounds.

As mentioned earlier, iodine deficiency is relatively common. Sea vegetables can make a big difference here because they are the most iodine-rich foods on earth (14).

There is a wide variety of different sea vegetables, but some of the most common include kombu, nori, and wakame.

Here is the nutrition profile for wakame per 100 g (15):

  • Calories: 45 kcal
  • Carbohydrate: 9.1 g
  • Fat: 0.6 g
  • Omega-3: 188 mg
  • Omega-6: 10 mg
  • Protein: 3 g

Key Nutrients

  • Manganese: 70% DV
  • Folate: 49% DV
  • Sodium: 36% DV

See this guide to sea vegetables for more information.

Key Point: Sea vegetables contain a wealth of health-promoting compounds.

11) Shrimp

Shrimp belongs to the crustacea family of shellfish, and they provide an excellent source of healthy fats, protein, and various micronutrients.

Shrimp also contains many nutrients that we have a suboptimal intake of, such as selenium and choline (16, 17).

Despite historical fears over their cholesterol content, shrimp have been exonerated of blame over the past few years.

Notably, research has clearly shown that dietary cholesterol has little effect on plasma (blood levels) of cholesterol (18, 19).

Per 100 g, shrimp provides (20):

  • Calories: 106 kcal
  • Carbohydrate: 0.9 g
  • Fat: 1.7 g
  • Omega-3: 540 mg
  • Omega-6: 28 mg
  • Protein: 20.3 g

Key Nutrients

  • Selenium: 54% DV
  • Vitamin D: 38% DV
  • Phosphorus: 20% DV

See this guide to the benefits and drawbacks of shrimp for a full review.

Key Point: Shrimp is a healthy and nutrient-dense seafood.

12) Clams

Various Clams - Some In Their Closed Shell and Some Open Shells.

Clams are another type of shellfish that offer exceptional nutritional value.

Belonging to the mollusk family of shellfish, they have a salty taste and a soft, chewy texture.

Typically, people either eat lightly seasoned clams on their own, but they also work well in a variety of soups and stews.

Nutritionally speaking, clams offer some excellent benefits, and they provide an exceptional source of vitamin B12.

Here is a look at their nutrition profile per 100 g (21):

  • Calories: 74 kcal
  • Carbohydrate: 2.6 g
  • Fat: 1.0 g
  • Omega-3: 198 mg
  • Omega-6: 16 mg
  • Protein: 12.8 g

Key Nutrients

  • Vitamin B12: 824% DV
  • Iron: 78% DV
  • Selenium: 35% DV
Key Point: Clams are extremely high in nutritional value.

13) Cockles

Cockles are a type of bivalve mollusk that is quite similar to clams.

However, unlike clams, the natural habitat of cockles includes both freshwater and saltwater.

It is possible to buy fresh cockles, but they are more widely available in a pickled form sold in jars. There are no real differences between these two forms of cockles, and both fresh and pickled cockles are nutrient-rich choices.

Per 100 grams, here are the basic nutritional values for cockles (22):

  • Calories: 79 kcal
  • Carbohydrate: 4.7 g
  • Fat: 0.7 g
  • Omega-3: 160 mg
  • Omega-6: 40 mg
  • Protein: 13.5 g

Key Nutrients

  • Vitamin B12: 1288% DV
  • Vitamin B6: 191% DV
  • Iron: 90% DV

For more information on cockles, see this full guide.

14) Anchovies

A Jar of Salted Anchovies.

Anchovies are one of the smallest edible fish in the world, but they pack an impressive nutritional punch.

As small oily fish, they share some common traits with sardines.

However, these two fish are entirely different species and belong to different families of fish.

There is quite a big difference in their taste too. For instance, anchovies are notably stronger in flavor and sardines are relatively mild in comparison.

Anchovies are almost always preserved in brine or salt-cured too, which gives them a saltier taste.

Due to these differences, sardines work better eaten alone, but anchovies contribute a fuller flavor when used in various dishes.

Similar to sardines, we often eat anchovies in their whole fish form, and they offer an impressive range of nutrients. Per 100 g they provide (23):

  • Calories: 131 kcal
  • Carbohydrate: 0 g
  • Fat: 4.8 g
  • Omega-3: 1478 mg
  • Omega-6: 97 mg
  • Protein: 20.4 g

Key Nutrients

  • Niacin: 70% DV
  • Selenium: 52% DV
  • Iron: 18% DV
Key Point: Anchovies are a small but very nutritious type of seafood.

15) Mussels

Mussels belong to the mollusk family of shellfish, and like oysters and clams, they offer a lot of benefits.

Most notably, mussels are a substantial source of B vitamins and the mineral manganese. They also offer a decent amount of omega-3.

Regarding taste, they are both mild and salty, with a soft and chewy texture.

Like other shellfish, we can eat them alone along with various seasonings like lemon, soy sauce, garlic, and butter.

Additionally, they work well in a range of cooked dishes. For example, Thai-style mussel curries are famous around the world.

For anyone interested, there is a good recipe for Thai coconut mussels here.

Here is a look at their nutrition profile per 100 g (24):

  • Calories: 172 kcal
  • Carbohydrate: 7.4 g
  • Fat: 4.5 g
  • Omega-3: 940 mg
  • Omega-6: 180 mg
  • Protein: 23.8 g

Key Nutrients

  • Vitamin B12: 1000% DV
  • Selenium: 163% DV
  • Manganese: 296% DV

This complete guide to mussels offers a full look at their nutritional values and health properties.

Key Point: Mussels are a nutrient-rich type of shellfish that are particularly high in vitamin B12.

16) Crab

A Steamed Whole Crab.

Interestingly, crab is very low in calories and only contains minimal amounts of fat.

Despite this, crab offers a lot of nutritional value, and it is a sizeable source of numerous vitamins and minerals.

While crab tastes somewhat similar to white fish, it is very mild in flavor with hints of sweetness, and it has a softer texture.

On the downside, one negative point about crab is that many people suffer from shellfish allergy.

This allergy is not unique to crab, and it impacts fellow members of the crustacea family of shellfish including shrimp and lobster.

Approximately 0.5 to 2.5% of the world’s population suffer from this potentially serious shellfish allergy (25).

Crab offers the following nutrients per 100 g (26);

  • Calories: 97 kcal
  • Carbohydrate: 0 g
  • Fat: 1.5 g
  • Omega-3: 460 mg
  • Omega-6: 20 mg
  • Protein: 19.4 g

Key Nutrients

  • Vitamin B12: 479% DV
  • Copper: 131% DV
  • Selenium: 73% DV

For more information, see this guide to crab and its nutritional benefits.

And for anyone wondering how ‘crab sticks’ compare to the real thing, see this guide to imitation crab meat.

Key Point: Crab is low in calories, but high in protein and beneficial vitamins and minerals.

17) Lobster

Lobster is a popular (but expensive) variety of shellfish.

While it is very nutritious, it is an occasional treat food for most people due to its high price tag.

Lobster is high in protein and it offers a good range of essential nutrients for very few calories.

On the downside, lobster is one of the most common causes of allergic reaction among shellfish, behind shrimp and crab (25).

Lobster offers the following nutrients per 100 g (27):

  • Calories: 88 kcal
  • Carbohydrate: 0 g
  • Fat: 0.9 g
  • Omega-3: 250 mg
  • Omega-6: 7 mg
  • Protein: 19.0 g

Key Nutrients

  • Copper: 172% DV
  • Selenium: 132% DV
  • Vitamin B12: 60% DV

This guide to the benefits and drawbacks of lobster provides further information.

Key Point: Lobster is high in protein, vitamins and minerals, yet low in calories. However, it is very expensive.

18) Eel

While eel is very long and it may slightly resemble a snake, it is actually a variety of fish.

This fish has long been a traditional food in much of Europe and the United States, but it has declined in popularity over recent decades.

In recent times, eel is incredibly popular in East Asia, particularly in China, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan.

Eel has an impressive nutritional profile, and it offers the following nutrients per 100 g (28):

  • Calories: 236 kcal
  • Carbohydrate: 0 g
  • Fat: 15.0 g
  • Omega-3: 580 mg
  • Omega-6: 370 mg
  • Protein: 23.7 g

Key Nutrients

  • Vitamin A: 126% DV
  • Vitamin B12: 120% DV
  • Vitamin D: 53% DV

For more information, see this guide to eel’s nutritional benefits.

Key Point: Eel offers a good range of protein, omega-3, vitamins, and minerals.

19) Fish Roe

Fish roe is otherwise known as fish eggs.

While not such a common food in the Western world, it is extremely popular in Japan and Eastern Russia.

Fish roe is also extremely nutritious and packs an impressive amount of nutrients including omega-3, vitamin D, significant amounts of protein, and much more.

There are many different kinds of roe, so there is no set of generic nutritional values.

However, see this guide to salmon roe for more information on one of the most popular types of fish eggs.

20) Sprats

Sprats are a lesser-known member of the Clupeiform family of fish, which also includes anchovies, herring, and sardines.

Despite their small size, sprats are packed with nutritional value.

Per 100-gram serving, this fish offers:

  • Calories: 157 kcal
  • Carbohydrate: 0 g
  • Fat: 6.53 g
  • Omega-3: 1,380 mg
  • Omega-6: 140 mg
  • Protein: 23.0 g

Key Nutrients

  • Vitamin B12: 548% DV
  • Selenium: 85% DV
  • Niacin (B3): 26% DV

See the full nutritional values and benefits of sprats for more information.

Key Point: Sprats are a small but nutrient-rich fish.

21) Swordfish

Swordfish is a large fish that is one of the ocean’s biggest predators.

However, this fish has both positive points and some negative ones.

For example, it is very high in omega-3 fatty acids, but it also contains large amounts of mercury (29).

See this detailed guide to the pros and cons of swordfish for more information.

Per 100-gram serving, swordfish provides (30):

  • Calories: 196 kcal
  • Carbohydrate: 0 g
  • Fat: 9.0 g
  • Omega-3: 1,300 mg
  • Omega-6: 100 mg
  • Protein: 26.7 g

Key Nutrients

  • Selenium: 142% DV
  • Vitamin B12: 96% DV
  • Vitamin D: 95% DV
Key Point: Swordfish is a large and nutritious fish.

22) Scallops

Scallops are a variety of mollusk shellfish that share some common properties with clams.

However, scallops have a much larger adductor muscle inside the shell – otherwise known as ‘meat’ for culinary purposes.

To find out more about them, see this full nutritional guide to scallops.

Per 100-gram serving, scallops provide (31):

  • Calories: 69 kcal
  • Carbohydrate: 3.2 g
  • Fat: 0.5 g
  • Omega-3: 110 mg
  • Omega-6: 10 mg
  • Protein: 12.1 g

Key Nutrients

  • Vitamin B12: 59% DV
  • Phosphorus: 27% DV
  • Selenium: 23% DV
Key Point: Scallops are a nutrient-rich shellfish with some similarieties to clams.

23) Sashimi

Sashimi is a Japanese raw fish delicacy that comes in all shapes and forms.

Providing the raw fish has been prepared properly, it is also very nutritious as well as tasting delicious.

Some of the most popular types of sashimi include bream, salmon, shrimp, and tuna.

For more information on sashimi, how it’s made, and the different varieties, see this guide to sashimi.

24) Haddock

Haddock is one of the most popular fish for culinary purposes.

This lean fish is a rich source of protein and it is packed full of vitamins and minerals.

See this full nutritional guide to haddock for a complete overview.

Per 100-gram (raw weight) serving, haddock offers (32):

  • Calories: 74 kcal
  • Carbohydrate: 0 g
  • Fat: 0.5 g
  • Omega-3: 140 mg
  • Omega-6: 20 mg
  • Protein: 16.3 g

Key Nutrients

  • Vitamin B12: 76% DV
  • Selenium: 47% DV
  • Niacin: 21% DV

For other lean white fish options, basa fish and cod are also good choices.

Key Point: Haddock is a lean and nutrient-rich white fish.

25) Conch

Conch is a protein-rich gastropod mollusk (or sea snail) that belongs to the wider group of mollusk shellfish.

Here is a complete guide to the nutritional benefits of conch.

Per 100-gram (cooked weight) serving, conch provides (33):

  • Calories: 130 kcal
  • Carbohydrate: 1.7 g
  • Fat: 1.2 g
  • Omega-3: 120 mg
  • Omega-6: 50 mg
  • Protein: 26.3 g

Key Nutrients

  • Vitamin B12: 219% DV
  • Selenium: 73% DV
  • Magnesium: 57% DV

Final Thoughts

As shown throughout the nutrition profiles of these foods, seafood is so much more than just omega-3.

Fish, shellfish, and sea vegetables are some of the most nutrient-dense choices out of any food group.

Finally, many types of seafood are reasonably priced, so they offer an excellent and affordable way to improve our overall diet.

For more on seafood, see this guide to oily fish and this list of shellfish varieties.

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