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Eating Fish for Health? Here's the Best and Worst!

As far as your health is concerned, not all fish are created equal. New research has determined that trout and Atlantic salmon are among the healthiest, while tilapia and catfish are among the least healthy.

Researchers from Wake Forrest University analyzed the fatty acid content of 30 of the most commonly consumed fish species in the US using gas chromatography. In particular, they measured the levels of omega-3 essential fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids to calculate the important omega-6 to omega-3 ratio.

Omega-3 essential fatty acids are the beneficial fatty acids that have been associated with heart health benefits. On the contrary, omega-6 fatty acids are considered to be pro-inflammatory, causing high levels of damaging inflammation. Therefore, the healthier fish will have the lowest ratio of omega-6s to omega-3s.

The researchers found that Atlantic salmon and trout had excellent ratios of approximately 1:1, but tilapia and catfish had much higher ratios of approximately 11:1.

Results of the study were published in the July 2008 edition of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.

If you are going to eat fish for the heart health benefits, you should try to eat more salmon or trout.

Another great way to increase your intake of omega-3 essential fatty acids is through a fish oil supplement with at least 300mg of EPA and 200mg of DHA, two beneficial omega-3s.

Source: Journal of the American Dietetic Association
July 2008; 108: 1178-1185
“The Content of Favorable and Unfavorable Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids Found in Commonly Eaten Fish”
Authors: Kelly L. Weaver, PhD, Priscilla Ivester, MS, Joshua A. Chilton, Martha D. Wilson, PhD, Prativa Pandey, Floyd H. Chilton, PhD
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