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Best source of Omega 3 fatty acids found in fish roe

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

According to results of a new study, fish roe may be our best source of omega 3 fatty acids. A team of researchers from the University of Alabama have shown that fish roe from marine animals is one of the best natural sources of omega 3 fatty acids – specifically the eggs of hake, salmon and lumpsucker.

According to José Luis Guil Guerrero, who led the study, “we have classified these eggs as unequivocal sources of omega 3, and have proven that this appears at high concentrations in all the species studies.” Guerrero is director of the study and a researcher in the Food Technology Department of the UAL.

Until now the nutritional benefits of fish roe was unknown. Omega 3 fatty acids were found to be present in all fish roe, and in highest quantities in the eggs of salmon, lumpsucker, mackerel, squid, cuttlefish, and Atlantic bonito.

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Lack of omega 3 fatty acids can lead to heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, reproductive abnormalities and depression and other inflammatory diseases. The new research shows that consuming small amounts of the roe from lumpsucker, hake or salmon roe can satisfy the body’s needs for omega 3 fatty acids, thus aiding in the prevention of disease.

Fifteen types of fish roe were studied by the researchers. The scientists looked specifically at levels of EPA y DHA (eicosapentaenoic acids (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acids (DHA), finding that fish roe contains more than 30 percent of the beneficial omega 3 fatty acids.

Guerrero says, "Aside from their nutritional importance, we could also make use of roe to extract its oil, which is rich in PUFAs (polyunsaturated fatty acids) and can be used as a dietary supplement, since it has a higher Omega 3 content than regular oils, for example salmon and tuna oil.” Developing nutritional supplements from fish roe, now found to be rich in omega 3 fatty acids, could provide additional sources of human nutrition.

The new study shows that fish eggs contain high levels of omega 3 fatty acids, and are an excellent source of EPA and DHA. Consuming small amounts of fish roe could provide a previously unknown source of omega 3 fatty acids, and could lead to the development of new supplements.

European Journal of Lipid Science and Technology 111 (9): 920-925, 2009.



I just had a question about the quantity of omega 3. In roe, the dosage is much less than in other forms of fish oil. What is the minimum dosage of phospholids should I take for optimal brain function. I know doctors recommend at least 600 mg in traditional fish oil.