Fresh vs Farm Raised Fish and Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Anyone who has been injured, in any way, has seen first-hand the effects of inflammation (pain, swelling, redness, heat). A common over the counter supplement to help counter the inflammatory process is omega-3 fatty acid or fish oil.

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When it comes to fats, there is one you don’t want to cut back on…omega-3 fatty acids. These are healthy acids needed for body processes and these are fats our bodies don’t produce.
Whenever possible we should get omega-3 fatty acids from foods rather than supplements; and the best way is to regularly eat fish. Most studies show a diet of fish 2 to 3 times a week is ideal. These can also be found in walnuts, flax seed, soybean, and canola oil.

One big dilemma at the seafood counter is wild fish (increased price and better taste) versus farm raised fish (increased availability, less costly, increase risk of contaminants).
To help make a better decision, let’s look at the pros and cons:

Nutrition:
A piece of wild fish had less calories and less fat content when compared to farmed fish. The farmed fish has more of the saturated or “bad fat” that you do not want in your diet.

Pollutants:
Due to restrictions in the fish farms (i.e. space, excess population) farmed fish have a higher amount of persistent organic pollutants that wild fish. Example, this can be 15 to 30 percent higher in the farmed salmon.

Chemicals and Contaminants:
In the wild; larger fish eat smaller fish, which eat smaller fish, which eat off the bottom of the ocean. This can lead to higher amounts of natural occurring chemicals, such as mercury, or man-made contaminants. In the farms, fish are fed other fish from lower down the food chain and can have a similar risk of chemicals and contamination. Due to space restrictions, these contaminants are in much higher quantities.

Conclusion:
Wild and farm raised fish have nutrients our bodies need, but the risks associated with farmed fish are higher than concerns about wild fish. If you want to get the many health benefits fish provide, your best bet is to keep it wild!

Andrew Vertson

Andrew Vertson

Andrew received his Bachelor’s Degree in Exercise Science from California State University, Fresno in 1991. He then earned his Master’s degree of Physical Therapy in 1996 and his Doctorate degree of Physical Therapy in 2002 from Loma Linda University. In 1996 he also earned his Certification as an Athletic Trainer. He has also completed extensive post-graduate course work in orthopedic manual therapy through Kaiser-West Los Angeles and the Ola Grimsby Institute.
Andrew Vertson