Essential Fatty Acids in Fish

Essential Fatty Acids in Fish

Fresh oily fish is one of the best and most convenient sources of omega-3 essential fatty acids. It is the one major exception to the need to restrict dietary fat intake for optimum health and weight loss. Unlike other foods rich in omega-3 essential fatty acids, like flax or linseed oil, fresh fish is freely available. And unlike nuts and seeds – the other main food source of omega-3, oily fish is a much richer source.

The omega-3 essential fatty acids in oily fish are called:

  • Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and,
  • Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)

See Fig 1. for the content of omega-3 (EPA and DHA) in fresh fish.

Fig 1. Content of Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acid in Fish

Approximate Omega-3 (EPA/DHA) content
in grams per 100 grams of fresh uncooked fish

Fish (100g) Omega-3 (g)
Mackerel 2.2
Spiny Dogfish 2.0
Herrings 1.7
Sardines 1.7
Pilchards 1.7
Tuna (bluefin) 1.6
Trout (lake) 1.6
Sturgeon (Atlantic) 1.5
Salmon 1.4
Anchovies 1.4
Sprats 1.3
Bluefish 1.2
Mullet 1.1
Halibut 0.9
Bass (striped) 0.8
Trout (rainbow) 0.6
Trout (Arctic char) 0.6
Mullet (striped) 0.6
Oysters 0.6
Carp 0.6
Squid (short-finned) 0.6
Tuna (skipjack) 0.5
Mussels (blue) 0.5
Periwinkles 0.5
Shark 0.5
Pollock 0.5
Hake (Pacific) 0.4
Sea Bass 0.4
Shrimps 0.4
Crab 0.4
Perch 0.4
Clams 0.3
Cod (Atlantic) 0.3
Cod (Pacific) 0.2
Plaice 0.2
Scallops 0.2
Flounder 0.2
Lobster 0.2
Abalone 0.1
Haddock 0.1
Pike 0.1

Calories, Weight Loss, Fats and Oils

From a calorie viewpoint, all oils are equally fattening.
They contain 120 calories per tablespoon.

  • For optimum weight loss, reduce your overall fat/oil consumption to a sensible level: 25-30 percent of calories is very good; although 20-25 per cent is better; while fats expert Udo Erasmus advocates 15-20 per cent.
  • Restrict your consumption of saturated fat to a minimum.
  • Make fresh oily fish a regular part of your diet.