Be it paired up with chips or stuffed wonderfully inside a taco; fish is one of the most loved seafood around the world. Not only is it packed with flavors, but it’s also a prominent source of a variety of essential nutrients.
If you’re a fish fanatic like me, you must have come across various fish in the market. From the Red Snapper to the more delicate Salmon, most health-conscious people know that determining which fish is the best for you shouldn’t depend on your taste buds only.
Many people get caught in the dilemma of whether they should buy saltwater fish or freshwater fish. To be honest, both varieties aren’t too different from each other and only have a subtle difference in nutritional value, texture, and taste.
As a rule of thumb, you should strive to buy locally. If you live in a coastal area, saltwater fish should be your priority, but buying freshwater fish lowers your carbon footprint if you live inland or near freshwater reserves.
Regardless, let’s break down the significant differences between saltwater fish and freshwater fish, which fish falls in which category, and how they compare in terms of taste and nutrients.
H2: Saltwater Fish
Saltwater fish or more commonly known as marine fish, live in seas and oceans. It’s often a staple food for people living in coastal areas or islands. Most marine fish swim in large groups and feed on algae or plankton in the deep waters.
Although most saltwater fish like to live along warmer coastlines, some migrate from colder regions to warmer ones or live in deep waters where the temperature is relatively higher. You might be familiar with the following common seawater fish.
- Indo-pacific King Mackeral (Surmai)
Among these, the healthiest seawater fishes are Tuna, Snapper, Mackerel, and Salmon. They are rich in proteins, omega-3, magnesium, and phosphorus needed by the body to function correctly.
H2: Freshwater Fish
Freshwater fish are found in rivers, lakes, streams, and glaciers. Their ability to adapt to changes in temperature isn’t as well-developed as compared to the seawater fish. So, the freshwater fish up in the glaciers can’t survive in the rivers down in the plains.
You must have heard and tasted some of these freshwater fishes.
- River Eel
- Carp (E.g. Rahu)
- Golden Mahseer
Freshwater Vs. Saltwater Fish Nutrition
Everyone knows that fishes are rich in Omega-3, but that’s not the only benefit you gain from the most loved white meat worldwide. Few people know that both saltwater and freshwater are rich sources of calcium, vitamin D, B2, zinc, iron, and magnesium too.
The healthiest freshwater fish, Bass, is a rich source of Vitamin A and folate, more so than any other freshwater or saltwater fish. Moreover, because some freshwater fish pick food from different habitats around them, their nutritional value is generally considered superior to saltwater fish.
Regardless, both freshwater and saltwater fishes are a rich source of essential nutrients and good fats. Fish is a popular choice for people who wish to eat healthily or lose weight. That’s why we should consume fish at least twice a week to lead a healthy life!
Taste Difference in Saltwater And Freshwater Fish
Although both saltwater and freshwater fish do not differ much in taste, if you’re a seafood enthusiast, you’ll undoubtedly notice some variation.
The saltwater fish is a little salty or briny in taste, giving you a feeling of fullness after a few bites. That’s because the seawater has a higher salt concentration than the fish body. Due to osmosis, some salt can seep the fish skin into its flesh and give a peculiarly salty taste to its meat.
Moreover, some saltwater fishes also eat various smaller fishes in the ocean, which gives their meat a distinctive taste.
If the saltiness of marine fishes is bothersome for you, try cooking it with garlic, BBQ, and Tandoori Masala Paste to cut down on the smell and saltiness.
The freshwater fish is much lighter, and some people find it tastier compared to seawater fish. That being said, taste is a subjective quality that depends heavily on the preferences of a person.
H2: Bone Structure Differences and Why It Matters
If you’re confused about the type of fish you just bought fresh from the market, one way to distinguish saltwater fish from freshwater fish is by looking more closely at the bone structure.
Ocean fishes will have a bigger bone structure as compared to the river ones. If you or your kids dislike fish for its delicate bones, you can opt for marine fish. They have thicker and longer bones that are easy to spot. Since saltwater fishes are easier to debone, they are often preferred for making fish kebabs, fish balls, and Fish Sandwich which make an excellent treat for lunch boxes and tea-time!
Saltwater Fish And Mercury Levels: Which Fishes Are Safer?
Fish is so nutritious; experts recommend eating at least two servings of fish per week. However, rising pollution has converted these nutritional powerhouses into mercury poisoning threats.
Research conducted from 1998 to 2005 showed that 25% of the fishes caught in the mainstreams of the USA contained high levels of mercury, which is pretty alarming. Mercury, even in small amounts, is harmful to humans, especially pregnant women and growing kids.
Although freshwater gets more pollution dumped into it than the oceans, research shows that saltwater fishes that are bigger in size pose a greater threat of mercury poisoning. Since larger fishes absorb more mercury over time and eat smaller fishes too, they accumulate more mercury and become more hazardous to eat.
So, Who’s The Winner?
Both saltwater and freshwater fishes are nutritious and beneficial in their own ways. Where freshwater fishes are more potent sources of good fats, saltwater fishes are favored for their high protein content. Salmon and Meckeral (Surmai) are exceptionally oily saltwater fishes.
Taste is a matter of personal preference. However, saltwater fishes are favored for snacks that require boneless meat.
One factor that weighs heavily in favor of freshwater fishes is their low mercury levels. Put this up with their high omega-3 heart-healthy content, and I’d say we’ve got a winner.
However, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat ocean fishes. Eating them regularly can increase the risk of heavy metal poisoning. However, saltwater fishes like Salman and Mackeral are highly beneficial too. As long as you eat them in moderation and avoid large overgrown fishes, you’ll be just fine!