You’ve probably heard over and over again to eat fish at least 2x/week. But does it really matter what kind of fish you eat? Well, if you’ve ever dabbled into the plethora of nutrition information on healthy diet recommendations, you’ve likely come across the more specific suggestion to eat more cold-water fish. Geographically speaking, warm-water fish are found in lakes and streams, and cold-water fish are typically found in the ocean. But it’s not the location that really makes a difference when it comes to what type of fish is best, it has to do with a fatty acid compound called Omega-3. Omega-3 fatty acids are familiar to us because they can be found as an added ingredient in various products such as eggs, yogurts, and nutritional supplements. Of course, they are also naturally found in fish.
There are several different kinds of Omega-3s, but scientific research seems to focus on the three “long-chain” Omega-3s: Docosapentaenoic acid (DPA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). There is strong evidence that “long-chain” Omega-3 fatty acids may provide support for neural and visual function, cardiovascular health, and reducing inflammation, just to name a few.
Simply put, the Omega-3 content of fish varies, but cold-water, fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines and herring contain high amounts of “long-chain” Omega-3s. On the other hand, warm-water fish, with a lower fat content, such as bass and tilapia, contain lower levels of these “long-chain” Omega-3s. Rest assured, eating “fatty” fish in moderation (2x/week) won’t make you gain weight! Instead, it will simply provide you with a rich source of nutrients that are essential for your overall health. So next time you’re planning your meals for the week, why not add in a cold-water, Omega-3 rich, fatty fish? Alternatively, if you don’t like the taste of fish, a good quality nutritional supplement may be your best bet. Not only is it easy on the palate, but top-quality varieties contain wild, cold-water fish, with a high Omega -3 ratio.
(1) Gregor, M. (2016, March 7). Should we take EPA & DHA Omega-3 for our heart? Retrieved from https://nutritionfacts.org/video/should-we-take-epa-and-dha-omega-3-for-our-heart/
(2) Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. (2019, July 9). Retrieved from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Omega3FattyAcids-HealthProfessional/
(3) Turchini, G. et al. (2012). Jumping on the Omega-3 Bandwagon: Distinguishing the Role of Long-Chain and Short-Chain Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition, 52 (9): 795-803.