Literatus: Top Omega-3 sources for Cebuanos-A A +A
Tuesday, May 1, 2012
LIKE any average Cebuano, I could say that my knowledge of Omega-3 fatty acids reaches only as far as knowing that these renowned food supplements can be found in oil-rich, large fishes, the likes of whales and sharks. That makes me think of Omega-3 with certain surrealism. The sources are so far off in the aquatic horizon to be reachable by ordinary fish-eaters like you and me, or at least a few like us.
But finding a study conducted by Dariush Mozaffariah and Eric Rimm published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (2006) changed all that.
For one, large fishes do not have the highest Omega-3 level of all. They have moderately high contents; but not the highest. Sharks may have 689 mg of Omega-3; but as minute as the species of anchovy (in Cebuano, bulinaw), sharks cannot match its 2055 mg Omega-3 content.
Second, large and long-living fishes have alarming levels of methyl mercury that may lead eventual mercury poisoning. And I guess not getting Omega-3 provides a better choice than getting poisoned with mercury.
The study though makes something very clear. With or without Omega-3 supplementation, Cebuanos have excellent access to Omega-3-rich fishes that by any reason stands a better choice than popping in a gelatinous capsule to get the same.
In the Mozaffariah-Rimm list, farmed Salmon (balitobong, in Cebuano) ranks first with 2,648 mg Omega-3 per 100 gram fish meat. Next to it is anchovy, which Cebuanos call bulinaw, with 2,055 mg. Then Herring (malangsi) follows with 2,014 mg. Mackerel (or anduhaw), obtained in the Atlantic, is in the list that contains at least one gram Omega-3, with its 1,203 mg content. Last in line is wild Salmon, which has 1,043 mg Omega-3 content.
Fishes with below one gram Omega-3 content includes Sardine (982 mg), Trout (935 mg), Tuna—the white albacore type (862 mg), Swordfish (819 mg), and Shark (689 mg). The much touted cod fish only contains 158 mg.
Shellfishes do not have as much. Its highest content so far is in mussels with 782 mg and oysters with 688 mg.
Meanwhile, whole egg surprisingly has an Omega-3 value too, at 43 mg.
The acceptable intake (AI) that the US FDA set is 1.6 mg per day for men and 1.1 grams per day for women. Dose must not exceed three grams per day; and no more than two grams coming from nutritional supplements.
Sholom Aleichem wrote in his short fiction A Yom Kippur Scandal: “Too much of anything is bad!” Except for a minor hyperacidity (Omega-3 is fatty acid; so it too can increase acidity level in the stomach) Omega-3 is unknown for serious adverse effects with excess.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 02, 2012.