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CLIF Blog

Apr. 23, 2009
Fishing for Omega-3 Fatty Acids
When it comes to eating fish, we’re in a quandary to try to make safe and sustainable choices. Fish is a fantastic source of omega-3 fatty acids, a nutrient important to keeping a healthy heart as well as a happy brain. Yet, many fish are a source of mercury and other unfortunate contaminates. Fishing also takes a toll on the environment with fishing and farm methods that leave a fishy aftertaste in our mouths. Making safe and sustainable choices isn’t easy, plain and simple.

There are lots of options out there that get further complicated with the introduction of contaminated and poorly sourced fish choices; as a result, many of us opt to skip out on fish altogether. Our seafood-deficient diets are leading to shortages in DHA, an important form of omega-3 fatty acids, which our bodies cannot make and must be obtained through our food.

How much omega-3 fatty acids do you need each day? The Dietary Recommended Intake is 1.6 grams per day for men and 1.1 grams per day for women which can come from all three types of omega-3s’: EPA, ALA, & DHA. Pregnant and breast feeding women need an additional DHA boost of .2-.3 grams per day.

Fish is one of the best sources of DHA. In fact, you can meet your needs by eating about 6-12 ounces of fish per week, that’s about 3 fillets a week. This, however, leaves us with a complicated task of identifying which types of fish are good for our bodies and the planet. The fishing industry is plagued with issues that harm our oceans. The loss of sea life to unintentional catches, habitat damage, and overfishing are just a few concerns. According to the experts at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, farmed fish is an option as long as the farms are located inland, far from coastal waters.

Thankfully, someone has done the thinking for us and created a simple pocket tool that helps you choose healthy and sustainable options at the grocery store or even when you’re eating out. Check it out here.

This is a great tool to guide you to sustainably-caught and non-contaminated fish. After referring to this guide, you'll see that there are lots of good options.

Though fish is still your best bet, keep in mind that there are other sources of DHA, too. In addition to over-the-counter supplements, organic milk and organic yogurt are now fortifying with additional DHA omega-3 fatty acids. Look for the three magic letters (DHA) on the front of the package.

So, head out to your fish market with the right tools to make the healthiest and most environmentally-conscious choice. And while you’re at it, go ahead and enjoy that tuna sandwich.
Posted by:
Tara, the RD
Category:
Food Matters
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About this Blog

We like getting our heart rates up, taking a big breath of fresh air, savoring delicious food. But we also love telling stories and here's where we type 'em up. (BTW, it works both ways; leave a comment—please and thank you.)

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