With so many fish in the sea, it can be hard to know which ones you should be eating most often.

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Roasted salmon with mint-caper pesto
Credit: Gentl and Hyers

The American Heart Association recommends eating two servings of fish per week, but studies show that 80 to 90 percent of Americans do not meet that goal. Fish are an incredibly healthy addition to any diet: On top of being a great source of protein (a four-ounce serving has roughly 30 grams of muscle-building protein), your favorite fish is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are key for fighting chronic disease and inflammation as well as boosting immune, cognitive, and heart health. What's more, fish tends to be high in minerals like zinc, iron, selenium, and iodine.

Still, not all fish are created equal. To help you pack your diet with the most beneficial varieties, we're outlining the health benefits of some of the most popular fish, as well as one we think you should consider eating more frequently.

Salmon

Salmon is higher in calories than other fish, but that's thanks to its high content of omega-3 fatty acids. Specifically, salmon is high in the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, which have been studied extensively for their health benefits. These fatty acids have been found to reduce systemic inflammation, reduce blood pressure, reduce the risk of cancer, and improve blood lipid profiles, thereby reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease. Salmon is also rich in an antioxidant called astaxanthin; in addition to imparting salmon with its bright pink color, astaxanthin may help reduce LDL cholesterol and increase HDL cholesterol as well as protect against sun damage. We prefer wild Alaskan salmon and use it in all kinds of dinner recipes from baked to poached.

Cod

If you're not a fan of fatty fish, cod is a solid option; many people enjoy its mild flavor and flaky texture. As a leaner fish, it has just 120 calories in a four-ounce serving while still packing in 24 grams of protein. Cod is also especially rich in magnesium, which plays a role in bone health and mood, among many other functions. Because of its mild taste, cod is a perfect canvas to dress up with other flavors. Try fish en papillote, which involves wrapping a piece of fish in parchment paper along with aromatics (onion, garlic, leeks, ginger), herbs (basil, oregano, thyme), and other ingredients (think tomatoes, olives, and fennel or lemongrass, lime, and snap peas); the fish is steamed inside the wrapped parchment paper along with any ingredients you add. Also try cod in a quick and easy fish stew or steamed with ginger and scallions.

Mahi-Mahi

Like cod, mahi mahi is another lower calorie option for fish: a four-ounce serving has just 100 calories and 21 grams of protein. Mahi mahi is high in the minerals potassium and selenium, as well as vitamins B3, B5, B6, and B12. Mahi mahi is a great option for fish tacos; we like to season it simply with salt, pepper, and citrus, add it to the grill, and serve with a mango salsa or cabbage slaw.

Tuna

Whether you're eating it raw in sashimi or in your favorite fish salad, tuna is a great option for quick lunches or fancy dinners. It's moderately high in omega-3 fatty acids which means it delivers plenty of anti-inflammatory benefits; it's also high in selenium, vitamin D, and iron. If canned tuna is your favorite way to enjoy tuna, skip the canned light tuna—it's lower in omega-3 fatty acids.

Sardines

Most people avoid sardines, but we feel strongly that you should give them a chance because they're another excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids and protein. Sardines are also one of the highest sources of vitamin B12, which helps your nervous system function, and calcium. In fact, just two ounces of sardines contains 217 mg of calcium, which is about the same amount as a six-ounce glass of milk. Sardines are a convenient, shelf-stable, nutrient-packed option for snacks or meals. Try them in this delicious pasta recipe. For pickier eaters, add sardines to a pasta sauce along with capers and olives.

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