cheap omega-3 from fish filter
June 12, 2006 12:22 AM   Subscribe

I've decided that I'd like to get more omega-3 fatty acids from fish in my diet, and I'm wondering what the most cost effective way to get it is.

(The omega-3 from plant sources such as walnuts and flax appears to be different than the omega-3 from fish.) Judging from a quick google search, canned sardines and canned wild salmon are good sources of omega-3, and judging by a trip to my grocery store, canned pink salmon and sardines seem to be the best choices on a value basis. However, there seem to be quite a few links on the web saying that the double cooking of canned tuna used by large companies is bad, because of increased mercury and/or decreased omega-3.

Are canned sardines and canned wild salmon a good source of omega-3 (and in the case of salmon, a relatively low source of mercury)? If yes, how is the canning of sardines and salmon better than the canning of tuna?
posted by mrkohrea to Food & Drink (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
To address your first question, I think the most cost effective method would be omega-3 fish oil caplets.

Yes to the differences in flax/fish oil omega-3.

You can also get 'purified' caplets that have removed environmental toxins like mercury, PCB's, etc. Take those claims with a grain of salt, but it's better than tuna that definitely has not been purified.

Salmon is inherently lower in mercury and a good source of omega-3. I'm really unsure about the specifics of canning, though. Google seems to indicate that there's a healthy serving of omega-3 in canned salmon.
posted by empyrean at 1:09 AM on June 12, 2006

Best answer: Tuna is a fattier fish, on the whole, than salmon. It will bioaccumulate more organic compounds containing heavy metals than most other fatty fish. Wild fish will contain less PCBs and more heavy metal than farm-raised fish.

Fatty fish can be a tough road to navigate, so if you're a woman and planning to get pregnant, or you plan on introducing quantities of fatty fish to your diet, you may want to consider talking to a doctor or looking at omega-3-laden "white" fish (cod, tilapia, etc.) which provide some of the health benefits of fish with fewer negatives. The typical complaint with mild fish is, namely, its mild taste.
posted by Mr. Six at 1:18 AM on June 12, 2006

Best answer: You can get frozen tilapia these days for ridiculously cheap. Think of it like chicken breast or tofu — with a nice tasty sauce on it, you won't care that it's bland.
posted by nebulawindphone at 3:44 AM on June 12, 2006

While I don't have any financial link (other than I send them money) to the t-nation guys, they do have a new omega 3 supplement called flameout.

Watch the heavy metals. As I understand it, most pharma grade fish oil is metal-free.
posted by ewkpates at 5:16 AM on June 12, 2006

Canned sardines and salmon are not-quite vile, but closely related. I take 3000 mg of fish oil daily via pretty yellow gelcaps. Some fish oil caplets can make you, in the words of Carla on Cheers, repeat like a Howitzer. That's not been my experience.

Since I began taking fish oil, my fibromyalgia has all but disappeared, I'm healthier, more attractive to the opposite sex, and my omelets are fluffier.
posted by wordswinker at 5:52 AM on June 12, 2006 [2 favorites]

Egg white or whole egg omlette?
So what about Omega 6 and Omega 9? What is the best source of these? (sorry for the slight derail)
posted by Gungho at 6:21 AM on June 12, 2006

Catch your own fish. Your profile doesn't say where you live, so I can't recommend a good type for the fatty acids you want, but here in Minnesota I can get to a trout stream in thirty minutes, and can generally count on catching a couple. That's pretty cost effective.
posted by norm at 6:34 AM on June 12, 2006

Some people tout sockeye salmon, because its supposedly slightly lower down on the food chain. Its available canned. Fish oil capsules make me burp disgusting rancid fish flavors.
posted by StickyCarpet at 9:00 AM on June 12, 2006

Best answer: I get my fish oil caplets from BJ's. This is the brand, and they have a new "odorless" version that's supposed to eliminate the fishy burps mentioned above. I called them and they said that their fish oil is mercury-free.

As for fish, I'm a fan of Pollock. It's $2/lb frozen at my local supermarket. You can't beat that. Slap some olive oil and bread crumbs on it, bake it for 25 minutes, and you've got some tasty fish. According to the American Heart Association, it's fairly low in mercury.
posted by exhilaration at 9:44 AM on June 12, 2006

Best answer: I've found a can of Goya sardines in the Mexican section of my grocery store with 3 or 4 times as much fish for the same price as the smaller tins.

Here's a list of omega-3 content in different fish.

I take fish oil in capsule form and flaxseed oil from a bottle. It's easier and fish usually tastes gross to me.
posted by stavrogin at 10:09 AM on June 12, 2006

Bland fish with a bit of (raw) extra virgin olive oil on top is no longer bland. Canned fish generally works very well with vinaigrette flavored salads. If you're liking the sound of this, look for cans that preserve the fish in olive oil - there is a noticeable difference in quality.
posted by magullo at 10:16 AM on June 12, 2006

I take Nordic Naturals Complete Omega 3-6-9, which has lemon and rosemary to prevent fishy burps. It's great stuff.
posted by nekton at 11:26 AM on June 12, 2006 [1 favorite]

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