Archive for March, 2011

It seems that frying affects the amount of Omega 3 in your fish

Probably by now most of our readers have heard that the best Omega 3 fatty acids come from fish. But is there much Omega 3 in the fish that you’re eating tonight? Not if it’s fried fish.

Whilst our preferred option for getting plenty of high-quality Omega 3 fatty acids in your diet is by taking  fish oil supplements there is no doubt that eating fish is another way to do that.

Eating fish for your Omega 3 however does have its problems. We’ve spoken before about the contamination of fish, including with Mercury, and also about how expensive it’s getting.

But we haven’t discussed how much Omega 3 is in fish that is cooked in different ways.Omega 3 in fried fish

Unfortunately there is evidence that the amount of Omega 3 in fish that makes its way onto your dinner plate can vary enormously according to how it’s cooked, and that frying your fish robs it of much of those important Omega 3 essential fatty acids.

Yes unfortunately the way you cook your fish has a large bearing on how much Omega 3 there is in your fish it seems.

A study done in December 2010, and published in the Neurology journal, has found that those living in the so-called “stroke belt” in the southern States are eating too much fried fish.

The “stroke belt” is a series of states including North and South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Georgia, Arkansas and Louisiana where there is an uncharacteristically high rate of death from stroke, and a particularly high rate amongst African-Americans.

The study established that people who lived in the “stroke belt” were 32 percent more likely to eat at least 2 or more servings of fried fish than those of us who live elsewhere in the country.

And African-Americans were 3 1/2 times more likely to eat 2 or more servings of fried fish than Caucasians.

The suggestion is that frying the fish will leach out those all important Omega 3 essential fatty acids.

The lead author of the study done at Emory University in Atlanta has postulated that one of the reasons for the higher incidence of stroke and death related to stroke in these States is the higher rate of consumption of fried fish.

And that the high rate of fried fish consumption amongst African-Americans may be a factor in explaining their higher rate of stroke.

Now of course the study doesn’t mean that it is just fried fish causing all those strokes. But it is certainly highly coincidental that the highest rate of stroke both by region and by racial differences coincides exactly with a high rate of intake of fried fish.

So is there Omega 3 in the fish that you’re serving up tonight? It is of course very hard to know, it varies enormously from one species of fish to another, it depends on whether, in the case of salmon for instance, it’s wild or farmed fish, and a host of other factors.

But the study certainly gives reason to doubt that you should be frying your fish if you’re eating it hoping to attract the health benefits of more Omega 3 in your diet.

As said before the best way to take regular daily doses of Omega 3 is to take Omega 3 capsules. The best Omega 3 capsules, (though not all) are entirely free of contamination, have very high levels of the active ingredients DHA and EPA, and are much more cost effective to take daily than it is to buy fish.

However there is no reason to swear off fish.

But you might be better to steam or bake it than to fry it.

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The Omega 3 Summit has recognized the health benefits of Omega 3 oils

We have talked at length about the health benefits of Omega 3 oils on this website. Unfortunately there are still many people who rate Omega 3 oil supplements along with many of the more esoteric nutritional supplements.

Many of the more esoteric nutritional supplements have very little scientific backing. But the same is not true for the health benefits of Omega 3 oils.

This has been backed up in the last few days, on 4 March 2011, with recommendations just released from the Omega 3 Summit

The Omega 3 Summit took place on the 3rd and 4th of March 2011 in Bruges, Belgium. It was a global summit intended to examine the health benefits of the Omega 3 fats and to “start the turnaround” in long chain Omega 3 consumption worldwide.

The summit was addressed by some eminent experts on the subject. Not only were the health benefits of Omega 3 oils considered but also the best sources of these oils, and the sustainability of those sources.

And the official press release issued at the end of the summit emphasises the importance this worldwide summit placed on the health benefits of the long chain (LC) fatty acids EPA and DHA.

A document was signed by attendees of the summit observing that “brain and heart disorders resulting from LC-Omega 3 (EPA + DHA) deficiency are the biggest challenges to the future of humanity”.
Benefits of Omega 3 oils

That’s a serious statement. It indicates the level of concern that these experts have in the decline, particularly in the western world, of our intake of the essential fatty acids DHA and EPA.

The summit also observed that “associated costs are currently bankrupting health care systems and threatening wider economic instability worldwide”.

That is also a very serious observation, and underlines the fact that many modern lifestyle diseases may well be prevented by an adequate intake of the Omega3 oils, and that the growing number of people suffering from these diseases threatens to overwhelm our health care systems.

And it is a recognition, by people expert in the field, that increasing our intake of the Omega 3 essential fatty acids will help prevent many of these conditions.

The issue of Omega 3 oil dosage was also considered, with the recommendation being a dietary intake of greater than 1000 milligrams of long chain Omega 3 oils for anyone consuming a Western type diet.

Another matter which attracted their attention was the poor conversion of ALA, one of the Omega3 fats, into DHA. ALA is the fatty acid commonly found in plant sources, and DHA is the fatty acid commonly found in fish. ALA is effectively a precursor to DHA and must be converted to DHA in the body, however this conversion is very poor, and for this reason many of the commonly recommended plant sources of the Omega 3 fats are not an adequate source of essential fatty acids.

That’s because plant sources of Omega3 contain ALA, not DHA. Flax seed is the most commonly recognized of these plant sources. Only fish oil capsules contain high levels of both DHA and EPA.

Whilst it is true that the health benefits of many of the less mainstream nutritional supplements are far from proven, and whilst these health benefits are rarely recognised by mainstream experts, there is now no doubt about the health benefits of the Omega3 essential fatty acids, as well as the fact that these are now formally recognized and mainstream.

Are you getting enough Omega 3 oils in your diet?

You should be, for your health’s sake.

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