Seafood is a beloved type of cuisine in many corners of the world, and there is a wide variety of dishes and foods that falls under the seafood umbrella from fish to shellfish. However, not every kind of seafood is safe to eat. With this in mind, it is important to do your homework on the various kinds of seafood to know exactly what dish is the best choice for you. Read on for a helpful guide:


plate of fish and sides on white plate
Joshua Resnick/Shutterstock

Fish encompasses a broader variety of dishes than even the most avid foodies may realize. For portable snacks and toppings, many opt for forage fish such as sardines, herring and anchovies, or even packaged tuna.

For larger meals, mahi-mahi, salmon and freshwater fish varieties such as tilapia, trout, carp and catfish provide some of the most nutritious dinner options on the market. Salmon, famous for being high in healthy fatty acids, makes for a particularly beneficial dietary staple. Salmon is also delicious when thinly sliced and served on a bagel as lox.

That said, proceed with caution; there are some kinds of fish that can pose major health risks. Large, predatory fish, in particular, may be more prone to accumulating toxins such as mercury because they consume smaller fish that have absorbed these toxins. A dangerously high mercury content is most often found in some sharks, marlin, king mackerel and swordfish. King mackerel is also a known carrier of ciguatoxins, which cause ciguatera poisoning in humans. Ciguatera poisoning can cause nausea, vomiting and even neurological disruptions.


oysters on a half shell with lemon and wine
margouillat photo/Shutterstock

The mollusk group encompasses all sorts of non-segmented, soft-bodied invertebrates, most of which are encompassed by some of kind of a shell. This seafood family includes clams, scallops, oysters, mussels and cockles. Additionally, cephalopods such as octopi, squid and cuttlefish are also considered mollusks, as they are the sub-group not protected by a hard shell.

When it comes to consuming mollusks, they can be served as an appetizer or main course. Many mollusks including mussels, clams, squid and oysters are commonly served as part of a bigger dish or as an appetizer. One of the healthier types of mollusk is the scallop, which is low in mercury and can be bought either fresh or frozen.


crab legs and corn on wood tray

Crustaceans are sometimes called the insects of the sea, and for good reason. This group of seafood is comprised of invertebrates with segmented bodies that are encased in a hard shell or exoskeleton. Think: shrimp, lobster and crab -- some of the tastiest, most satiating, most high-end recipes in the world. Shrimp dishes boast perhaps the best overall balance of nutrition, flavor and budget-friendly pricing of all of the crustacean options. They are versatile, low in mercury and calories and high in protein. They can be served as a finger food appetizer or part of a larger dish. Crab and lobster are pricier and typically served on their own as a main course and have a decadent, buttery flavor that pairs well with creamy sauces.

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