Choosing your fish for the Omega 3 isn’t as easy as you might think

Our website is dedicated to telling you more about the health benefits of the Omega 3 essential fatty acids DHA and EPA. And our preferred way of adding these essential fatty acids to your diet is by using high quality Omega3 supplements each day.

But of course Omega 3 essential fatty acids come from fish. So today we wanted to look at getting your Omega 3 from fish, and some of the things you need to think about before heading down to the local fish shop and buying your fish.

The first thing to understand is that the amount of Omega 3 found in fish varies enormously. Those good essential fatty acids are found in the oil in the fish, and different types of fish have different amounts of oil.

Mackerel, for example, is a very oily fish and is a good choice when eating fish for this reason.

As a general rule the more oily the fish the more likely it is to have higher levels of Omega 3 essential fatty acids.omega 3 in fish

It is also well-known that salmon has a higher level of the essential fatty acids than many other fish.

And then there are fish with very low levels of fatty acids. Catfish, for example, is particularly low.

Mackerel has somewhere around 2.6 grams of Omega 3 in a 3 1/2 ounce serving. Catfish has .3 of a gram.

You can see the difference, the amount of good fats in some fish is extremely low, and in other fish is very high, so it’s not just a matter of buying fish. If you’re eating fish for those good fats you need to be eating the right fish.

Here’s a list, courtesy of the Readers Digest, showing you some of the different levels of fatty acids in different types of fish.

Type of fish    Total Omega-3 content per 3.5 ounces (grams)

Mackerel                           2.6

Trout, lake                       2.0

Herring                              1.7

Tuna, bluefin                 1.6

Salmon                               1.5

Sardines, canned         1.5

Sturgeon, Atlantic      1.5

Tuna, albacore              1.5

Whitefish, lake              1.5

Anchovies                       1.4

Bluefish                            1.2

Bass, striped                 0.8

Trout, brook                 0.6

Trout, rainbow           0.6

Halibut, Pacific           0.5

Pollock                            0.5

Shark                               0.5

Sturgeon                        0.4

Bass, fresh water      0.3

Catfish                            0.3

Ocean perch               0.3

Flounder                      0.2

Haddock                      0.2

Snapper, red              0.2

Swordfish                    0.2

Sole                              0.1

However it’s even more complicated than that. Let’s take salmon for example. Whilst salmon is very high in good fats, it has to be wild salmon. Yet very few of us are eating wild salmon when we buy salmon at the local fish shop. Normally we are eating farmed salmon.

And farmed salmon is low in Omega 3 fats because it eats a completely different diet than wild salmon.

And there’s more. Fish can be contaminated with industrial toxins, and some fish is more contaminated than others. Shark and tuna for example have higher levels of contamination because they are top of the food chain fish. Whilst this is a subject for another article it’s worth understanding that you need to know a little more about contamination levels of individual fish before you buy them.

And there’s even more. How you cook the fish also has an impact. There is research showing that frying fish destroys a lot of the Omega3 fats and, depending on the oil that you fry it in, can even pose a risk of increasing your risks of heart attack.

Steaming your fish is a particularly good way of cooking it, steaming seems to affect the oils in the fish as little as possible.

So as you can see it’s not quite as simple as you might think eating fish for your Omega3. Whilst there’s no doubt that there’s Omega 3 fish, and that eating fish is good for you, you need to spend a little more time researching to find out which particular fish to buy and how to cook it.

Or you could take quality fish oil capsules instead, they are very cost-effective, and the best are free of contamination.

Certainly don’t stop eating fish, fish is yummy and has none of the nasty saturated fats found in so many meat products. Just be aware that how you choose and cook your fish does affect the amount of good fats you’re getting in your diet.

Written by - Omega 3 Fish Oil