There’s Omega 3 in fish without doubt, but what goes with it?

Most people know about the Omega 3 essential fatty acids, and that there is Omega 3 in fish, so today we wanted to look at exactly how much Omega 3 there is in fish, and discuss some of the issues of getting your Omega3 from fish.

For anyone who is just starting the journey of learning about the health benefits of the Omega 3 essential fatty acids, the first thing to understand is that an adequate supply of the Omega 3 fats in our diet is very good for us, and that most of us don’t get enough in our diet.

Over the last few decades science has established that the Omega 3 fats are extremely important for good health in a wide range of areas. These fats are known as essential fatty acids because they are essential for the operation of our body, and because they are not produced in our body we need to get them from our diet.

There's Omega 3 in fish

Today we don’t intend to discuss any of the individual health benefits of increasing your intake of DHA and EPA, though if you’re interested to find out more please use the categories on the right.

Today we wanted to discuss Omega 3 levels in fish, in other words to find out more about where to get your essential fatty acids.

That’s because fish is the best source of the Omega 3 essential fatty acids DHA and EPA. There are other sources, for example beef was a good source of DHA in the past, however is now not such a good source because most of our beef is grain fed and grain fed beef has much lower levels of DHA.

But fish, and particularly oily fish, is rich in DHA and EPA, and, for most of us other than vegetarians who don’t eat fish, is the best way to increase the amount of essential fatty acids in our diet.

But exactly how much Omega 3 is there in fish? Lets have a look.

Here’s the list, presented by the American Heart Association, of the top 10 fish and shellfish for Omega 3 content.

Type of fish Omega 3 content Mercury level
Canned tuna (light) 0.17–0.24 0.12
Shrimp 0.29 ND*
Pollock 0.45 0.06
Salmon (fresh, frozen) 1.1–1.9 0.01
Cod 0.15–0.24 0.11
Catfish 0.22–0.3 0.05
Clams 0.25 ND*
Flounder or sole 0.48 0.05
Crabs 0.27–0.40 0.06
Scallops 0.18–0.34 0.05

The first column of figures indicates the Omega 3 content in the fish, in grams per 3 ounce serving. The second column of figures is the average Mercury level in parts per million. ND means not detectable.

And there lies the problem. Although there is plenty of Omega 3 in fish, as you can see from the table, there’s other things included with your Omega 3, like Mercury.

Sad to say much of the fish that we eat is contaminated with Mercury, PCBs and other nasty chemical contaminants. In most cases it is not much, but who wants any?

For this reason the American Heart Association, whilst recommending that we eat a couple of meals of fish a week, also recognizes the risks of contamination of fish and tempers their recommendations with warnings from the FDA that children and pregnant women should avoid eating the fish with higher levels of Mercury contamination, and to mix up the type of fish you eat.

The Australian government website Better Health also specifies exactly which fish are the riskiest for contamination with Mercury, identifying “shark, swordfish (broadbill) and marlin, ray, gemfish, ling, orange roughy (sea perch) and southern blue fin tuna” as being high in Mercury, and which should be avoided.

And it has some good advice for fishermen, suggesting that they pay attention to the possible levels of pollution in any area where they are fishing, and to avoid bottom feeding species like catfish. All good advice.

Of course there are various ways to get your Omega 3 fats.

There are plenty of fish oil supplements available with high levels of DHA and EPA. Sadly some of these have also been found to be contaminated.

There’s no doubt that eating more fish, particularly fish high in Omega 3, is an effective way to increase your intake of the essential fatty acids DHA and EPA. But it’s sometimes not quite so simple.

Yes there is Omega 3 in fish, but before you start adding heaps of fish to your diet be aware of the different types of fish available, how much Omega 3 is found in those fish and whether they may also have higher levels of Mercury contamination, along with other contaminants.

Choose your fish carefully and choose your fish oil supplements carefully.

Either way it’s important to increase the amount of DHA and EPA in your diet for the sake of your health. It’s not an easy choice, and you need to do a little research first.

Omega 3 in fish table source

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