Fish and Omega3

~ February 2002 No.143 ~

Health officials have been recommending that we eat more fish as a way of getting more omega–3 fatty acids in our diet. Fish is high in omega–3 fatty acids; particularly fatty fish such as tuna, salmon, and mackerel. Lean fish such as snapper and catfish are not as high.

Researchers have found that, after we eat fatty fish, the level of omega–3 fatty acids circulating in our blood goes up. Other research has shown that omega–3 fatty acids can protect against irregular heart beat and fatal heart attacks. This beneficial effect of omega–3 fatty acids can even be found in people 65 years of age and older.

The American Heart Association has changed its dietary guidelines and now recommends that fatty fish – those rich in omega–3 fatty acids be eaten at least twice a week. However, the method of cooking the fish is important. Fried fish are not as healthy as fish prepared other ways. Part of this may be due to the fact that more fat is eaten when fish are fried and also because the leaner types of fish are fried more often. Another health concern is that the oils that are used in frying can become oxidized over time – again not good for health.

The International Society for the Study of Fatty Acids and Lipids after its international workshop on “the Essentiality of and Recommended Dietary Intakes for Omega–6 and Omega–3 Fatty Acids” published tables of adequate daily intakes (but not Recommended Dietary Allowance) of omega–3 fatty acids. It recommended 650 mg of total omega–3 fatty acids per day for adults.

For those who just don‘t like the taste of fish, fish oil capsules can be found in many health stores. Capsules that contain 1000 mg of oil can easily be found. If the source of oil is salmon, one capsule would supply more than 300 mg of omega–3 fatty acids.

Grams omega-3 Fatty Acids / 100 grams raw fish
Food Omega 3 g/100g
Sardines21.1
Atlantic mackerel2.5
Herring1.7
Lake trout1.6
Salmon1.2
Striped bass0.8
Tuna0.5
Pacific halibut0.4
Channel catfish0.3
Shrimp0.3
Swordfish0.2
Red snapper0.2
Sole0.1
Source: SPC Fisheries Newsletter #95 — October/December 2000 p24

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