Mississippi River, America's largest river system, is home to a diverse range of fish species. Some are considered healthy to consume due to their high nutrient content, while others are recommended for limited consumption due to pollution risks. This blog post will guide you through some of the healthiest fish to consume from the Upper Mississippi River and provide insights into what makes them a healthy option.
Walleye is among the most popular fish species in the Upper Mississippi River, often celebrated for its mild, succulent taste. Walleyes are low in fat, high in protein, and a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids, which are known to support heart health. They also contain various essential minerals, including potassium, magnesium, and zinc.
Bluegill, a staple in the Mississippi River, is another healthy choice. Not only does it taste good, but it is also a great source of lean protein and vitamin B12, which supports nerve function and the formation of red blood cells. Bluegill is relatively small, so it tends to accumulate less pollutants, making it a safer choice compared to larger, long-lived species.
3. Northern Pike
Northern Pike is a cold-water fish native to the Upper Mississippi River that offers a range of health benefits. The fish is low in sodium and high in protein, vitamin D, niacin, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, and selenium. Just be aware that the larger, older specimens may contain higher levels of contaminants due to bioaccumulation, so it's generally better to consume younger, smaller pike.
Crappies are not only fun to catch but also make for a nutritious meal. They are low in saturated fat and provide a good amount of protein, magnesium, and vitamin B12. Crappies are small panfish like Bluegill and thus tend to have lower levels of mercury and other pollutants.
5. Smallmouth Bass
Smallmouth Bass, found in the upper Mississippi, are full of essential nutrients like protein, vitamin D, and Omega-3 fatty acids. They're relatively lean and offer various health benefits.
Despite these recommendations, it's crucial to remember that water quality can affect fish health, and consequently, their safety for human consumption. Although the Upper Mississippi River has seen environmental improvements over the years, it still faces challenges related to agricultural run-off, urbanization, and industrial pollutants.
Before consuming fish from the Upper Mississippi River or any other body of water, it is recommended to check the current consumption advisories from state or local environmental and public health agencies. They test fish populations and determine their safety based on levels of pollutants like mercury and PCBs.
In conclusion, the Upper Mississippi River provides a bounty of fish that can be both delicious and nutritious. Just remember to take into account any local advisories to ensure you're making the healthiest choices. Happy fishing and enjoy your meal!
Mississippi National River and Recreation Area (U.S. National Park Service)
Fish Consumption Advisories (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)
Nutrient Data Laboratory (U.S. Department of Agriculture)