How Fish Is Cooked Affects Omega 3 Levels

November 18, 2009


We know all about the heart benefits of eating fish high in Omega 3, but did you know that how you cook it can seriously affect the levels? Research carried out by the University of Hawaii and was presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions on November 20 and found that if you want to get the maximum benefit your fish needs to baked or boiled, rather than fried, salted or dried.

You can also enhance the benefits by adding low-sodium soy sauce or tofu when cooking it. Frying does not generally get many health points and fish is no exception – despite the wonderful crisp batter from my local fish and chip shop – and in fact has several associated health risks.

The researchers studied the intake of various forms of omega 3 including tinned fish, soy products like tofu and shoyu and studied the results.

The Gender Difference

Men with a high Omega-3 intake from fish had a lower risk of death due to heart disease, but women got the same heart protection from both fish and plant sources. The researchers theorised that, for women, eating omega-3s from shoyu and tofu that contain other active ingredients such as phytoestrogens, might have a stronger cardioprotective effect than eating just omega-3s from fish alone. Also, that eating salted and dried fish was a risk factor in women, but not in men.

Before you start shaking that soy sauce bottle, please note that the benefits apply only when using a low salt version as the standard one is very high in salt which can raise blood pressure. You might do better to make tofu a regular part of your diet as that also seemed that eating it also had a cardio-protective effect. Personally I think it’s like eating your school eraser but without the added taste benefit of ink, so soak it in low salt shoyu before using it, or try smoked tofu instead as that has more flavour.

So, banish that frying pan and steam/bake your fish instead for a healthier option. Interestingly they didn’t study microwave cooking, and as this is a very fast way of cooking that essentially steams the food it would have been useful to see if that was also a good method for preserving the Omega 3.


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