Are You Getting Enough Omega-3s From Your Fish Dinner?

It is well-known that fish is a healthy food. Even the American Heart Association recommends at least two servings of fish every week for heart health. Unfortunately, not everyone is aware of the differences in omega-3 levels in fish.

For example, a woman who eats tilapia three times per week may think she is getting plenty of omega-3s, when in reality tilapia is much higher in omega-6 than omega-3. Or a man who eats a large portion of fried fish twice a week may think he is in the clear, but fish used for frying tends to be lower in omega-3s, and high in fat.

On the other hand, eating spicy tuna sushi rolls a few times a week may give you plenty of omega-3s, but what about the mercury content of that tuna? Fish that are higher up on the food chain (especially albacore tuna) concentrate toxins like mercury, and end up on your plate.

What’s a person to do? How can you protect your heart by eating the right fish in the right ways? It’s not easy, but it can be done. Honestly, your best bet is probably sardines, as it is a small fish (low in toxicity) with high omega-3 levels. But let’s face it, sardines aren’t exactly high on the list of big cravings. Another good option is wild salmon, baked or grilled.

But if you have more serious heart concerns and need more than the minimum recommended two servings of fish per week (which is equal to about 500 mg daily of the combined omega-3s EPA and DHA), then you’ll probably have to eat far more fish than you can stomach. This is where a good fish oil supplement comes in. A high-potency, concentrated fish oil can give you plenty of omega-3 in one softgel. Look for a fish oil that has the IFOS seal (International Fish Oil Standards), which exceeds world standards for purity. This ensures you are getting a pure fish oil, without all the toxins. Not all fish oil meets these standards.

More Praise for Fish Oil

We already know that a diet rich in Omega-3 fatty acids from fish is linked to heart health, better digestion and healthy brain function. Now new evidence shows that eating more fish-derived Omega-3s might help lower the risk of age-related macular degeneration, a condition that affects nearly 2 million older adults every year in the United States and causes a loss of vision due to damage to the retina.

Published in the journal Ophthalmology, findings from a recent study conducted at Johns Hopkins University show that older adults who eat one or more servings of fish weekly tend to have lower rates of AMD. Not only that, but regular fish eaters are 60 percent less likely to have advanced AMD than those who consume fish less than once a week. Scientists believe that the natural properties in fish-derived Omega-3s help to nourish and protect the delicate tissues of the eye.

While more research is planned to further investigate the role of Omega-3s and eye health, experts recommend increasing your intake of oily fish such as salmon, mackerel and albacore tuna to get the health benefits of fish-derived Omega-3s. For those who don’t like fish, a daily fish oil supplement provides a great alternative—just remember to look for a highly concentrated formula with lipase, a powerful fat-digesting enzyme that helps your body break down and use the healthy oils.