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Wake Forest researchers say popular fish contains potentially dangerous fatty acid combination
Date:7/8/2008

ne eat at least two servings of fish per week, and that heart patients consume at least 1 gram a day of the two most critical omega-3 fatty acids, known as EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid).

But, the article says, the recommendation by the medical community for people to eat more fish has resulted in consumption of increasing quantities of fish such as tilapia that may do more harm than good, because they contain high levels of omega-6 fatty acids, also called n-6 PUFAs, such as arachidonic acid.

"The ratio of arachidonic acid (AA) to very long-chain n-3 PUFAs (EPA and DHA) in diets of human beings appears to be an important factor that dictates the anti-inflammatory effects of fish oils," the researchers write. They cite numerous studies, including a recent one that predicts "that changes in arachidonic acid to EPA or DHA ratios shift the balance from pro-inflammatory [agents] to protective chemical mediators which are proposed to play a pivotal role in resolving inflammatory response" in the body.

For their study, the authors obtained a variety of fish from several sources, including seafood distributors that supply restaurants and supermarkets, two South American companies, fish farms in several countries, and supermarkets in four states. All samples were snap-frozen for preservation pending analysis, which was performed with gas chromatography.

The researchers found that farmed tilapia contained only modest amounts of omega-3 fatty acids less than half a gram per 100 grams of fish, similar to flounder and swordfish. Farmed salmon and trout, by contrast, had nearly 3 and 4 grams, respectively.

At the same time, the tilapia had much higher amounts of omega-6 acids generally and AA specifically than both salmon and trout. Ratios of long-chain omega-6 to long-chain omega-3, AA to EPA respectively, in tilapia averaged about 11:1, compared to much less than 1:1 (indicating more EPA than AA) in both
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Contact: Mark Wright
mwright@wfubmc.edu
336-716-3382
Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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