Which Fish Are High in Omega 3?
by Kim Catanzarite
An increasing awareness of the importance of omega-3 fatty acids in the diet has evolved in recent years, and the scientific community is touting the benefits of fatty fish as the best source for it. That's because the omega-3 fatty acids found in fatty fishes are unsaturated, and more important, believed to reduce inflammation throughout the body.
All fish contain some amount of omega-3, but cold-water fishes in general have the most. Mackerel, trout and herring come in at the top of the list, with bluefin tuna, salmon and sardines following up. In general, ocean fish beat freshwater fish for highest levels of omega-3 fatty acids.
In addition to reducing inflammation, the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids range from increased learning ability in children to decreased triglycerides and lower blood pressure in adults. It's also believed that omega-3 fatty acids enhance immune function, reduce blood clotting and improve the symptoms of arthritis. Studies point to a propensity to reduce the risk of sudden cardiac death.
When adding fish to your diet, the more the merrier does not apply. Much of the fish caught in the open seas contains some level of mercury. Experts recommend adults eat two 3-oz. servings of fatty fish per week. Taken in this amount, you can be relatively sure to incur a low risk of mercury exposure while still gaining the benefits of eating fatty fish.
Catfish and tilapia contain more omega-6 fatty acid, a type of fat that damages the cardiovascular system, and less omega-3 fatty acids and therefore should be avoided. Fish higher up on the food chain, such as shark, tend to have higher levels of mercury.
Individuals most susceptible to the detrimental effects of toxins should avoid eating fish; the list includes pregnant women, children under 12 and those with compromised immune systems.
Fish oil supplements are available for people who do not eat the recommended amount of fish per week but want to benefit from omega-3 fatty acids. However, the supplements have not been proven to offer the same benefits as the fish itself.