Scientists reveal the fish we should eat to stop “wasting” nutrients

Experts have discovered that salmon may not be as nutrient-rich as previously expected, and revealed the fish we should be eating for optimal health.

A study published in Feeding nature Researchers from the University of Cambridge, Lancaster University, the University of Stirling and the University of Aberdeen have found that the production of farmed salmon results in a loss of six out of nine nutrients: calcium, iodine, iron, omega- 3, vitamin B12 and vitamin A.

And it’s actually the wild fish that feed on salmon that we should choose, such as mackerel, anchovies and herring. These fish contain nutrients that are very beneficial to human health, such as calcium, omega-3 and B12.

“What we’re seeing is that most of the wild fish species that are used as feed have a density and range of micronutrients similar to or greater than farmed salmon fillets,” lead author of the study, David Willer, from the Department of Zoology at the University of Cambridge. , he said in a summary of the findings.

“While continuing to enjoy eating salmon and supporting the sustainable growth of the sector, people should consider eating a larger and wider variety of wild fish species such as sardine, mackerel and anchovy, to get more essential nutrients straight to your plate.”

The study found that the amounts of calcium were five times higher in wild fish fillets than in salmon. They also found that iodine was four times higher, while iron, omega-3s, vitamin B12 and vitamin A were more than 1.5 times the amount found in salmon fillet alone. However, they found increased levels of selenium and zinc in the salmon.

The nutrients included in these wild-fed fish help prevent diseases such as cardiovascular disease and stroke.

“We are effectively wasting around 80% of the calcium and iodine in food fish, especially when we consider that women and teenage girls often do not get enough of these nutrients,” Richard Newton of the Institute of Aquaculture at the University of Stirling, whose team also included Professor Dave Little, Wesley Malcorps and Björn Kok, said in the summary of the findings.

“Farmed salmon is an excellent source of nutrition and is one of the best feed converters of any farmed animal, but for the industry to grow it needs to be better at retaining the key nutrients it’s fed. This can be done with more strategic use of feed ingredients, including fishery by-products and sustainably sourced industrial-grade fish such as eels.”

Stock photo of mackerel swimming in the ocean. It is a type of wild fish that contains essential nutrients.

IvanMikhaylov/Getty

This study also found that wild-fed fish provided these nutrients in smaller portions than farmed salmon. The researchers found that eating a third of wild foraged fish could maximize the amount of nutrients we consume from the area.

“Making some small changes in our diet around the type of fish we eat can go a long way in reversing some of these deficiencies and increasing the health of both our population and the planet,” added Willer.

Lead author James Robinson of Lancaster University also said that while marine fisheries are important to local and global food systems, large catches are being diverted to agricultural feed.

“Prioritizing nutritious seafood for people can help improve both diets and the sustainability of the ocean,” Robinson said.

The study’s recommendations could help address “global nutrient deficiencies,” the scientists said.

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Update 3/20/24, 10:18 AM ET: This headline for this story has been updated.