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Catfish and Omega 3

By Cindy Ell

Fish is the best and most widely known dietary source of omega-3 fatty acids, natural substances necessary for human development and functioning. Some fish species are richer in omega-3s than others. Salmon, lake trout, mackerel and sardines are better choices for getting your omega-3s than catfish, but catfish can still be a valuable addition to your diet.

Catfish

It is still delicious when coated in corn meal and deep-fried, but catfish is more than a Southern staple. Due to modern catfish aquaculture, in which catfish is farmed in freshwater ponds, catfish is now available worldwide. Just 2 oz. provides 20 percent of the average daily value for protein, 23 percent of the average daily value for vitamin B-12, and 14 percent of the average daily value for phosphorus. This comes at a cost of only 88 calories, qualifying catfish as a nutrient-dense food.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids, which are naturally present in fish and some vegetable oils, have demonstrated a remarkable array of health benefits. According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, omega-3 fatty acids lower certain risks of cardiovascular disease and improve some symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Scientists are exploring the usefulness of omega-3s in a number of other diseases, including autism, bipolar disorder, Alzheimer's disease, asthma and breast cancer. For personalized information about the role that omega-3 fatty acids should play in your diet, consult your physician or a registered dietitian.

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Omega-3s in Catfish

The omega-3 levels in catfish are very low compared to other fish species. According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, contemporary fish farming techniques may play a role in the low quantities of omega-3s in catfish, although farmed salmon and farmed trout have relatively high levels. The American Heart Association suggests that most people consume at least two servings of fish weekly to get its heart-healthy benefits. Continue to enjoy catfish, but make sure to eat other varieties as well to ensure adequate omega-3s in your diet.

Cautions and Considerations

Omega-3 fish oil supplements are a way to boost dietary consumption of omega-3 fatty acids, but like any supplement, they carry some risks. Some people experience gastrointestinal symptoms, such as burping, heartburn and diarrhea, when they take fish oil. High doses of fish oil are generally contraindicated for people on blood-thinning medicines, because they have anti-coagulant properties. Use fish oil under the supervision of your physician or another qualified health-care provider.

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