Finding the Best Frozen Fish

Fish is one of the healthiest foods you can consume, especially if it’s from the fatty fish family, which includes salmon, herring, mackerel, sardines, and albacore tuna. Fatty fish are highest in omega-3 fatty acids—one of the best nutrients for maintaining heart health and blood pressure. Fish also contains vitamins A, B2 (riboflavin) and D, as well as the minerals calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, phosphorus, and iodine.

Fish located in the frozen food section of the supermarket often is more fresh than the fish in the fresh seafood department. Look for packages that say “frozen at sea” (FAS), which means they were filleted and frozen on the ship. Another acceptable label is Individually Quick Frozen (IQF), which means each fillet was frozen separately. With IQF, each fillet also has the benefit of a skim coat of water frozen on top of it.

Some fish are thawed and filleted when they reach a land-based factory and then refrozen for delivery, so avoid, if possible, packages that say “previously frozen.” Frozen fish can last three months or more in the freezer, while fresh fish should be cooked within 48 hours after leaving the store.

Finding the Healthiest Frozen Fish

You should be able to find a variety of fish options in the frozen aisle, ranging from salmon to cod/scrod, tilapia, whiting, mahi mahi, flounder, haddock, and shellfish. The healthiest fish is one with no breading or batter coating. However, if you’re choosing a breaded fillet, check to see if your brand includes whole wheat in its bread crumbs, which would provide a slightly healthier boost. A crispy batter may be higher in total fat and in saturated fat than a breadcrumb coating, so be sure to check Nutrition Facts labels.

Cooking Your Fish

Thaw your fish slowly and evenly the day you plan to cook it by placing it on a plate in your fridge, rather than on the counter. Fish is naturally low in calories and saturated fat. To keep it that way, steam it, bake it, or pan sear it on the stove with a quarter-cup of
water, a dash of olive oil, and some tasty seasonings, such as thyme, rosemary, cayenne pepper, or lemon zest. Four-ounce fish fillets cook in about four minutes per side.

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