Finding omega-3 fats in fish: Farmed versus wild

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Lately, a Harvard Coronary heart Letter subscriber emailed us a query: Is there a distinction between farm-raised and wild-caught salmon by way of omega-3 fatty acid content material?

I’ve questioned about this myself whereas standing on the fish counter at my native grocery retailer. I can typically discover farm-raised Atlantic salmon for about $6.99 a pound, whereas the wild-caught salmon could also be almost twice as costly. Salmon and different fatty fish are the primary dietary supply for omega-3 fatty acids, that are identified to decrease the chance of coronary heart illness.

It seems that you simply most likely received’t shortchange your coronary heart for those who select the less-costly farmed salmon, as each sorts appear to supply comparable quantities of omega-3s per serving. However that’s possible as a result of farm-raised salmon are likely to have extra whole fats — and due to this fact extra omega-3 fats — than wild ones.

How the entire fats content material of salmon measures up

As Dr. Bruce Bistrian, professor of drugs at Harvard Medical Faculty, defined to me, fish are what they eat. “Within the wild, salmon eat smaller fish which might be excessive in EPA and DHA — the useful, long-chain omega-3 fatty acids.” Farm-raised salmon eat high-protein meals pellets. Whereas location and environmental modifications can have an effect on the weight loss program of a wild salmon, the flesh of a farmed fish displays the farmer’s selection of pellets. Specifically, farmers typically feed the younger salmon pellets comprised of plant and animal sources, then add the costlier fish- and fish-oil–enriched pellets later within the fish’s lifespan.

A research that measured fatty acids in 76 completely different fish species from six areas of america discovered massive variations within the omega-3 content material within the 5 completely different salmon species examined — particularly the 2 farm-raised varieties. The omega-3 content material ranged from 717 milligrams (mg) to 1,533 mg per 100 grams of fish (equal to a “commonplace” 3.5-ounce serving). In comparison with the wild-caught varieties, farmed fish tended to have greater ranges of omega-3s, however additionally they contained greater ranges of saturated and polyunsaturated fat. However the quantity of saturated fats isn’t alarming. For comparability, a serving has about 1.6 grams, which is about half as a lot in the identical quantity of flank steak.

The most effective selections for salmon — and the remainder of your plate

Backside line: Don’t stress an excessive amount of about your salmon choice. Comply with the American Coronary heart Affiliation’s recommendation to eat two servings of fish per week, letting affordability and availability information your selections. As for me, I typically go for farmed salmon for dinner as soon as per week or so, however I’ll splurge on wild salmon if it seems particularly good. When I’ve canned tuna, I search for the “chunk mild” selection, which is decrease in mercury than different varieties. (For extra on that matter, see one in all my earlier blogs). Different good fatty fish selections embrace sardines, herring, bluefish, and mackerel.

And don’t neglect to maintain the massive image in thoughts when selecting what to eat. Diet consultants like Dr. Bistrian stress that a lot of essentially the most compelling proof a few heart-healthy consuming patterns comes from research of the Mediterranean weight loss program, which incorporates fish in addition to a number of fruit and veggies, entire grains, nuts and olive oil however minimal quantities of meat and dairy. “Should you eat extra fish within the context of different modifications in your weight loss program, that’s extra prone to confer a profit,” says Dr. Bistrian.

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