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Are freshwater fish low on Omega-3s?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created September 08, 2011 at 4:27 PM

I tend to do a good amount of fishing, so I've been trying to figure out the Omega-3/EPA and DHA levels for freshwater fish. Outside of Salmon (difficult to get in the Midwest), Walleye and Perch are my favorite fish to eat. I was somewhat shocked to find that most freshwater fish that I catch (Walleye, Northern Pike) apparently have low levels of Omega-3s:

According to: http://www.seagrant.umn.edu/fisheries/fish_oil

The amount of N-3 oils varies in different types of fish. It is commonly believed that only salt water fish contain significant levels of N-3 fatty acid. This is not true. Freshwater fish from cold northern waters, including Lake Superior, can have significant levels as well (Want et al. 1990).

The following are recommended saltwater and freshwater fish with a high N-3 oil content:

albacore
black bass
bluefish
carp
channel catfish
herring
lake herring
lake trout
mackerel
pompano
salmon
tuna (Water-packed)
whitefish

Fish not recommended are those with low levels of N-3 oils. They are:

cod
flounder
haddock
halibut
grouper
pike
shark
snapper
sole
walleye
whiting

I've never been a fan of the idea of eating carp (bottom feeders), though I hear it is good smoked. Are any of you aware of a chart that shows the breakdown in EPA/DHA by species?

8465408c1d77e672210d83c50bc3c38d

(94)

on September 09, 2011
at 04:42 PM

Thanks for posting that link. Here's where walleye and pike stand: http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/finfish-and-shellfish-products/4226/2 and Carp: http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/finfish-and-shellfish-products/4035/2 It looks like the worst thing is that they are both high in cholesterol, but I don't know enough about cholesterol to know whether or not it is bad, or just "bad" from the standpoint of the standard modern diet.

1d0497f8781845ab371b479455bfee8e

(11157)

on September 08, 2011
at 10:42 PM

Maybe freshwater fish are lower in N-3 oils, but they're still really good for you to consume on a regular basis. And I wouldn't say they're devoid of N-3 either, just lower. Take a look at the nutrient profile for a fillet of haddock: http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/finfish-and-shellfish-products/4060/2 Screw N-3's, that's a healthy piece of fish. The N-3/N-6 ratio is what's important. Haddock has 398mg of N-3 and 18mg of N-6.

44348571d9bc70c02ac2975cc500f154

(5853)

on September 08, 2011
at 05:14 PM

and fish roes and milts have about the most amazing omega3/6 ratio of any food there is. I think even freshwater would be very high in nutrients.

03fa485bfd54734522755f47a5e6597e

(3944)

on September 08, 2011
at 04:52 PM

Which raises a further question: is a largemouth bass (for instance) caught in Lake Michigan higher in omega-3s than one caught in Georgia? Is one caught in the winter higher than one caught in the summer? In other words, is this only a species-wide evolutionary adaptation, or is it also a short-term adaptation to the weather?

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4 Answers

4
0bc6cbb653cdc5e82400f6da920f11eb

(19235)

on September 08, 2011
at 08:08 PM

I'm not sure about fresh water fish and I know nothing about North American fish in general but here goes anyway.

Among salt water fish most of the oily fish are pelagic and live in the water column such as herring, mackerel and salmon. White fish, such as cod, usually live on or near the seafloor and store all their fat in their liver. I don't think temperature has anything to do with the omega-3 fat content as both oily fish and white fish occur in the same cold North Atlantic waters.

My understanding is that fish do not in fact make long chain fatty acids like DHA/EPA and they have to consume it in their diets. This is why farmed salmon usually contain much less omega-3 fats as they do not eat smaller fish.

The DHA/EPA in fish is originally produced by algae and phytoplankton in the ocean water using the sun for energy. The phytoplankton are eaten by tiny crustations like Krill (this is why Krill is a good source of omega-3 fat). The krill are eaten by smaller fish and the omega-3 fat works its way up the food chain to larger fish like sardines and mackerel. Oily fish from northern waters are probably a good sources of omega-3 fat because of the vast blooms of phytoplankton that occur in cool northern waters and form the base of the food chains.

I could speculate that freshwater fish only contain good amounts of omega-3 fat if the base of their food chain such as algae contains omega-3 fats and that these fats are concentrated up the food chain. I think carp do eat algae maybe that is why they are a good freshwater source.

I don't know of a chart that shows the breakdown in EPA/DHA by species.

Are carp not good to eat? I know carp were farmed in fish ponds all over Europe during Medieval times. The new face of fish suppers? Why carp may return to Britain's tables

1
E34fbfa1bca9ae970c9c7313bf9de9f8

(1436)

on September 08, 2011
at 04:46 PM

Fish that are cold water are higher in omega-3s. This is an adaptation to keep their blood at an appropriate viscosity in colder water.

03fa485bfd54734522755f47a5e6597e

(3944)

on September 08, 2011
at 04:52 PM

Which raises a further question: is a largemouth bass (for instance) caught in Lake Michigan higher in omega-3s than one caught in Georgia? Is one caught in the winter higher than one caught in the summer? In other words, is this only a species-wide evolutionary adaptation, or is it also a short-term adaptation to the weather?

0
Ab779b0d787d6aa98228439621de3624

(0)

on March 02, 2013
at 02:14 AM

Thank you! PANGASIUS BOCOURTI have more DHA and EPA? I need References!

0
44348571d9bc70c02ac2975cc500f154

(5853)

on September 08, 2011
at 05:10 PM

Well, freshwater eels are ridiciliously high in nutrition. Hard to source tho.

44348571d9bc70c02ac2975cc500f154

(5853)

on September 08, 2011
at 05:14 PM

and fish roes and milts have about the most amazing omega3/6 ratio of any food there is. I think even freshwater would be very high in nutrients.

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