Choose your fish wisely
Newswise — Farm-raised tilapia, one of the most highly consumed fish in America, has very low levels of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids and, perhaps worse, very high levels of omega-6 fatty acids, according to new research from Wake Forest University School of Medicine.
The researchers say the combination could be a potentially dangerous food source for some patients with heart disease, arthritis, asthma and other allergic and auto-immune diseases that are particularly vulnerable to an “exaggerated inflammatory response.” Inflammation is known to cause damage to blood vessels, the heart, lung and joint tissues, skin, and the digestive tract.
“In the United States, tilapia has shown the biggest gains in popularity among seafood, and this trend is expected to continue as consumption is projected to increase from 1.5 million tons in 2003 to 2.5 million tons by 2010,” write the Wake Forest researchers in an article published this month in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association.
They say their research revealed that farm-raised tilapia, as well as farmed catfish, “have several fatty acid characteristics that would generally be considered by the scientific community as detrimental.” Tilapia has higher levels of potentially detrimental long-chain omega-6 fatty acids than 80-percent-lean hamburger, doughnuts and even pork bacon, the article says.
“For individuals who are eating fish as a method to control inflammatory diseases such as heart disease, it is clear from these numbers that tilapia is not a good choice,” the article says. “All other nutritional content aside, the inflammatory potential of hamburger and pork bacon is lower
than the average serving of farmed tilapia.”
Dietitians from the world renowned Mayo Clinic said Americans should not stop eating tilapia, despite media reports of a new study from the Journal of the American Dietetic Association that question the species’ health benefits.
The clinic’s online column, Nutrition Wise, said the fact that a new study released in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association shows tilapia has more omega-6s than omega-3s, was no reason to stop eating the popular fish.
The dietitians said they are “going to continue to eat fish — at least twice weekly…including tilapia and catfish along with others especially high in the good fats such as salmon, tuna and mackerel.”
“This is all part of a reaction to sound-bite-science that has confused consumers and possibly scared some away from an inherently healthy food,” said Jennifer Wilmes, a registered dietitian with the National Fisheries Institute. “Is there an on going debate in the scientific community about omega-3 to omega-6 ratios? Yes. Does that mean anyone should suggest ground beef, bacon, and doughnuts are equal to or healthier than tilapia? No. That’s irresponsible.”
(Curious what Sockeye salmon looks like?
This guy seems eager to show us. What a catch!)
For the complete story on tilapia, check out the Newswise Medical News link. And for more information on how eating fish can help reduce inflammation, check out the Arthritis Today article.