4

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Replacing fish oil with real fish

Answered on September 12, 2014
Created November 24, 2010 at 4:26 PM

I'm trying to eliminate the fish oil supplements out of my diet. Considering i don't eat grass-fed beef, how many times a week do you think i should be eating fresh fish to keep a good n3:n6 ratio? Or should i simply eat fish everytime i eat meat?

Thanks a bunch!

Eed7dabde3d61910685845e04605267f

(2934)

on December 31, 2012
at 06:35 AM

i poach salmon in chicken stock, rare in the middle. The skin/fatty bits are the bomb!

Ede6029838b9d17195c84bab64a5d88d

(181)

on August 14, 2011
at 10:38 PM

I eat one raw mackerel once a week along with its liver a la sashimi. Every 2-3 weeks I have fish roe which are loaded with 3s as well. I think it is much better than supplements.

44348571d9bc70c02ac2975cc500f154

(5853)

on July 04, 2011
at 06:46 AM

You can make gravlax, or gently cook the salmon at 42C, very little oxidation, and tastes much better than any oil i have tasted, and its real food.

44348571d9bc70c02ac2975cc500f154

(5853)

on July 04, 2011
at 06:34 AM

I dont consume much pufa, but i have added fish to my daily meals almost. I havent seen any reason not to. I might even question why many people eat beef everday but not fish.

9bc6f3df8db981f67ea1465411958c8d

(3690)

on March 07, 2011
at 01:16 AM

Getting a lot of total PUFA is never a good thing.

8f08fb03fc5c2f44b7d5357e8a3ab1c5

on March 05, 2011
at 08:20 PM

Something to keep in mind - most wild game seem to have, on average, at least a 1:1 ratio of (PUFA+MUFA) to saturated fat. I do understand the objections regarding rancidity, but this notwithstanding, I think getting a lot of PUFA+MUFA would be a good thing, no?

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on November 26, 2010
at 10:02 PM

...the OP says he's eating conventional meat. If he was eating just grassfed beef tallow, fine, but on conventional meat and butter he'll be eating far more o6. How are you defining "adequate"? It can't simply be the RDA for EPA/DHA, since this completely bypasses the question of inflammation, so you need to give at least a suggested answer for what absolute level of o3 always suffices, even with limitless o6.

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on November 26, 2010
at 09:58 PM

Jay, you could just give me a reference or a suggested mechanism rather than the comment about "paleo blogs." The graphs on this Lands paper (discussed by Stephan) look awfully as though it is the ratio itself that matters (unless you think "adequate" EPA/DHA is 4%+ of calories, which would be far more fish than I've been suggesting) and it shows that o3 needs to vary precisely with o6 intake. I agree with "low but adequate" i.e. minimising o6 and getting almost as much o3 as o6. We're not talking about "on top of grassfed meat" (which is, in fact, close to the ratio I describe...

691f120a3e7a1a036845d105d86c99a3

(3641)

on November 26, 2010
at 05:39 PM

i like the canned mackerol, they look like sardine tins. its a good way to add a snack of fish to your day to get some O3s. bar harbor i think is the brand in the USA.

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on November 25, 2010
at 08:44 AM

Well the fish oil that I got (and I think this ought to be a minimum condition) is cold-processed, kept in an opaque bottle in the fridge and has added vitamin E. My salmon conversely is fried or stuck in an oven at 175degrees+ for quite a while.

4781cf8ae1bfcb558dfb056af17bea94

(4359)

on November 25, 2010
at 12:59 AM

@David, it's not as simple as you think. research for yourself - google scholar. don't believe all you read on paleo blogs. it's not about balancing n-3 and n-6. it's about getting enough 3 and not getting too much 6. You're probably thinking that sounds like balance, but it's different trust me: high intake of n-3 to "balance out" a high intake of n-6 doesn't work. You want low but adequae intake of both. Think paleo. you really don't think 2 fatty fish meals per week isn't enough? especially when on top of grass fed meat, dairy, ect.

Cab7e4ef73c5d7d7a77e1c3d7f5773a1

(7314)

on November 24, 2010
at 11:35 PM

if oxidation were a worry, wouldnt fish oil be the problem? i think that many fish oil pills are easily oxidized

8287c6ddae0d78eae0a09fdd5999617c

(2581)

on November 24, 2010
at 09:20 PM

CLA's effect on fat loss is minimal. Most fish oil dosages are not that higher than what you get in a serving or two of fish.

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on November 24, 2010
at 09:01 PM

Assuming it was leanish beef it would be negligible amount of omega 3. Of course if it is lean beef, you'll be getting fat from somewhere else and even butter is 2.7g/700cals/100g. If it's fatty beef (sufficient that you don't need other sorts of fat) then it's about 9g omega 6 per week, which 2x200g cans of wild salmon would easily outdo.

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on November 24, 2010
at 08:55 PM

Good idea about anchovies, I might try to find some. I'd avoid flaxseed oil like the plague though (as well as the olive oil), since the omega-3 is ALA and thus virtually useless to the body (since we can't convert significant amounts of it), so I'd not want it adding to my total PUFAs.

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on November 24, 2010
at 08:52 PM

@ Jay The minimal level of EPA/DHA in themselves (to meet the structural needs of the brain etc) is quite different from the optimal amount of long chain omega-3, assuming you want to balance out omega 3 to reduce inflammation.

4781cf8ae1bfcb558dfb056af17bea94

(4359)

on November 24, 2010
at 07:33 PM

not true. You don't need much EPA and DHA - eating 1 or 2 wild salmon meals per week seems sufficient.

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8 Answers

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5
E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on November 24, 2010
at 08:50 PM

My own figures are as follows: assuming I typically eat 500g+ of lean, cheap ground beef per day, plus butter up to my calorie limit, that gives me a bit less than 5g omega-6 per day (3g from the butter and 0.7g-1.4g from the meat). Obviously if you're eating other meats then you might be consuming a lot more e.g 25-30g a day if you're eating pork/lard.

If I'm eating eggs (typically 12-18 a week/2.5 a day) that's another ~12g o-6 a week/~2g per day. So in total, assuming 5g per day, I'd need one large can of salmon per day to balance out my omega3:6 ratio. In terms of fresh farmed salmon, (2.5g o3: 1g o-6) I'd need around 2kg of salmon a week to balance out. Based on the numbers of the packet of my salmon from the supermarket, the ratio is 3:2 and 3g omega-3 per 100g and so again I'd need more than 2kg to achieve a balanced ratio. Of course some people seem to think a 2:1 ratio is acceptable, in which case you'd need half as much. The canned salmon is wild and thus virtually all omega 3 conversely, so the necessary can a day only works out at 1.5kg per week.

Since most of my omega-6 is coming from butter and eggs, it doesn't much matter whether the salmon (40g protein per can) displaces any meat from my diet or nut. However, if you were eating a fattier, omega-6ier meat like pork or chicken, then it would be very significant if oily fish were displacing your meat.


All this might well make you think that fish oil is the way to go. On paper, this is certainly the case. It's also cheaper for me to buy 2.5-3g omega 3 from fish oil (23p) compared to 3g from fresh salmon (and this comes with omega 6 as well) for 100p. Canned salmon is a lot better, but still 70p for the same amount of o-3.

In favour of the fish oil is its convenience and the fact that I find it a lot more palatable than canned salmon! Salmon or other oily fish of course comes with the advantage of added nutrients (although cod liver oil would have lots of advantages in this respect I suppose). Fish also has protein, which for lots of people might be an advantage, but for me is probably a disadvantage, I don't know where I'd fit it into my daily meals.

Of course the major thing to consider and the major problem with fish oil (and undoubtedly why I don't use it) is whether fish oil works. On paper it contains as much omega-3 as fish, but Matt Metzgar links to some pretty compelling evidence that it just doesn't produce the same effects. This isn't a finding that I like accepting, since I naturally much prefer to look at the totality of the nutrients and other compounds contained in foods and judge on that basis which are better, rather than hand-waving that 'real food' contains some unmeasurable and unidentifiable magic benefits. Nevertheless in this case, as in some others, there does seem good evidence that there is something missing in fish oil that one gets from fish. Of course, if the problem is absorption, it might be that this problem is remedied by taking the fish oil with saturated fat, or it might be that ensuring that adequate micronutrition is the problem, but we don't know. There is also a suggestion here though taken from Julianne citing Andrew Stoll, that omega 3 stops being effective as an anti-inflammatory if not consumed with sufficient antioxidants (it suggests vitamin E and C) to stop it oxidising. I don't know if there's anything in this (especially the vitamin C part) but it could be another explanation. If oxidation were a worry then that might seem to be a reason to prefer fish oil, since it's not cooked, like fish, but then we don't know if/what other constituent parts of fish keep the oil from oxidising (since otherwise fish would seem to be quite unhealthy, despite all the evidence to the contrary).

Cab7e4ef73c5d7d7a77e1c3d7f5773a1

(7314)

on November 24, 2010
at 11:35 PM

if oxidation were a worry, wouldnt fish oil be the problem? i think that many fish oil pills are easily oxidized

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on November 25, 2010
at 08:44 AM

Well the fish oil that I got (and I think this ought to be a minimum condition) is cold-processed, kept in an opaque bottle in the fridge and has added vitamin E. My salmon conversely is fried or stuck in an oven at 175degrees+ for quite a while.

44348571d9bc70c02ac2975cc500f154

(5853)

on July 04, 2011
at 06:46 AM

You can make gravlax, or gently cook the salmon at 42C, very little oxidation, and tastes much better than any oil i have tasted, and its real food.

Eed7dabde3d61910685845e04605267f

(2934)

on December 31, 2012
at 06:35 AM

i poach salmon in chicken stock, rare in the middle. The skin/fatty bits are the bomb!

3
0faecc3397025eab246241f4dcd81f5e

(2361)

on August 14, 2011
at 10:04 PM

I've done a chart here with omega 3 amounts in fish, seafood and all other oils, fats, and meat. http://paleozonenutrition.wordpress.com/2011/05/10/omega-6-and-3-in-nuts-oils-meat-and-fish-tools-to-get-it-right/

Cron-o-meter is a dietary analysis tool that will give you a breakdown of how much N-3 and 6 Pufa's in your diet. http://cronometer.com/download/

You can get identical amounts of omega 3 from fish or fish oil caps. http://www.massey.ac.nz/massey/about-massey/news/article.cfm?mnarticle=salmon-outranks-fish-oil-pills-for-omega-3-and-selenium-05-12-2008

However the fish was better because of other nutrients like selenium.

Re oxidation - omega 3 oxidises (as do all PUFAs) easily in cell membranes (lipid peroxidation). Fish oil in caps with already high levels of oxidation are not great - I only buy fish oil that has been tested for oxidation. Vitamin E is an antioxidant for fats, and vitamin C replenishes oxidised vit E

2
1568416ef28477d1fa29046218d83ddd

(6235)

on November 24, 2010
at 06:30 PM

I would work on adapting anchovy sauce in to something you like with beef. The sauce is super simple and goes well with beef. It is traditionally anchovies dissolved in olive oil with garlic. The olive oil does detract from your goal, I would use very little and then use flaxseed oil (which is actually quite good when fresh) to make up the rest of the sauce.

Quantities will be based on your source, but if you have a go to source like this you can get an easier idea of how to balance.

Personally I just take the pills right now.

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on November 24, 2010
at 08:55 PM

Good idea about anchovies, I might try to find some. I'd avoid flaxseed oil like the plague though (as well as the olive oil), since the omega-3 is ALA and thus virtually useless to the body (since we can't convert significant amounts of it), so I'd not want it adding to my total PUFAs.

1
9bc6f3df8db981f67ea1465411958c8d

on November 25, 2010
at 05:40 AM

2-3 fish meals per week ought to be enough. Trying to get fish every time you eat grain-fed beef to me would be micromanaging and a waste of time.

Aim for a low total PUFA intake and as long as you get some omega-3 every once in a while you'll be perfectly fine.

Even though long and at times a bit technical, this recent article by Chris Masterjohn brings some very important points to the table about PUFAs:

http://www.westonaprice.org/know-your-fats/2021-precious-yet-perilous.html

8f08fb03fc5c2f44b7d5357e8a3ab1c5

on March 05, 2011
at 08:20 PM

Something to keep in mind - most wild game seem to have, on average, at least a 1:1 ratio of (PUFA+MUFA) to saturated fat. I do understand the objections regarding rancidity, but this notwithstanding, I think getting a lot of PUFA+MUFA would be a good thing, no?

9bc6f3df8db981f67ea1465411958c8d

(3690)

on March 07, 2011
at 01:16 AM

Getting a lot of total PUFA is never a good thing.

44348571d9bc70c02ac2975cc500f154

(5853)

on July 04, 2011
at 06:34 AM

I dont consume much pufa, but i have added fish to my daily meals almost. I havent seen any reason not to. I might even question why many people eat beef everday but not fish.

1
66e6b190e62fb3bcf42d4c60801c7bf6

on November 24, 2010
at 05:07 PM

good question. money's a little tight right now and for me to get proper protein for my level of training, i'm eating more conventional beef these days. i'm wondering how much fish a week i should be eating to counteract eating 3lbs or so a week of conventionally raised beef?

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on November 24, 2010
at 09:01 PM

Assuming it was leanish beef it would be negligible amount of omega 3. Of course if it is lean beef, you'll be getting fat from somewhere else and even butter is 2.7g/700cals/100g. If it's fatty beef (sufficient that you don't need other sorts of fat) then it's about 9g omega 6 per week, which 2x200g cans of wild salmon would easily outdo.

0
B14dc4aa1ddefbec3bc09550428ee493

on August 15, 2011
at 11:15 AM

The American Heart Association gives two servings a week as a starting point. Of course, that doesn't take into account that you probably eat differently than the average person, but it seems reasonable to me.

0
66bb8043123f8310499671c7345901ce

on November 24, 2010
at 05:06 PM

Not sure why you're taking fish oil out of your diet?!...GF beef is loaded with CLA which is great for fat loss. You would have to eat a lot of salmon to get a sufficient amount of EPA/DHA.

4781cf8ae1bfcb558dfb056af17bea94

(4359)

on November 25, 2010
at 12:59 AM

@David, it's not as simple as you think. research for yourself - google scholar. don't believe all you read on paleo blogs. it's not about balancing n-3 and n-6. it's about getting enough 3 and not getting too much 6. You're probably thinking that sounds like balance, but it's different trust me: high intake of n-3 to "balance out" a high intake of n-6 doesn't work. You want low but adequae intake of both. Think paleo. you really don't think 2 fatty fish meals per week isn't enough? especially when on top of grass fed meat, dairy, ect.

8287c6ddae0d78eae0a09fdd5999617c

(2581)

on November 24, 2010
at 09:20 PM

CLA's effect on fat loss is minimal. Most fish oil dosages are not that higher than what you get in a serving or two of fish.

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on November 24, 2010
at 08:52 PM

@ Jay The minimal level of EPA/DHA in themselves (to meet the structural needs of the brain etc) is quite different from the optimal amount of long chain omega-3, assuming you want to balance out omega 3 to reduce inflammation.

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on November 26, 2010
at 10:02 PM

...the OP says he's eating conventional meat. If he was eating just grassfed beef tallow, fine, but on conventional meat and butter he'll be eating far more o6. How are you defining "adequate"? It can't simply be the RDA for EPA/DHA, since this completely bypasses the question of inflammation, so you need to give at least a suggested answer for what absolute level of o3 always suffices, even with limitless o6.

E35e3d76547b18096a59c90029e7e107

(15613)

on November 26, 2010
at 09:58 PM

Jay, you could just give me a reference or a suggested mechanism rather than the comment about "paleo blogs." The graphs on this Lands paper (discussed by Stephan) look awfully as though it is the ratio itself that matters (unless you think "adequate" EPA/DHA is 4%+ of calories, which would be far more fish than I've been suggesting) and it shows that o3 needs to vary precisely with o6 intake. I agree with "low but adequate" i.e. minimising o6 and getting almost as much o3 as o6. We're not talking about "on top of grassfed meat" (which is, in fact, close to the ratio I describe...

4781cf8ae1bfcb558dfb056af17bea94

(4359)

on November 24, 2010
at 07:33 PM

not true. You don't need much EPA and DHA - eating 1 or 2 wild salmon meals per week seems sufficient.

0
9e1dedf12f6ee75b7fe460960971fd21

(624)

on November 24, 2010
at 04:39 PM

I think only a couple of times a week is necessary. Have a tin of quality kippers or a meal with salmon.

Proportionally speaking, grass fed beef doesn't have that much omega 6. Assuming you don't consume a lot of omega 6 from other sources (restaurant food etc) then I think it is best to generally limit the amount of polyunsaturated fats you take in. I would suggest you look at Kurt Harris MD's blog on this issue.

My two cents

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