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    Archive for the ‘sardines’ Category

    You Ask, I Answer: Calcium From Fish

    ID79601I’ve learned tons about nutrition from you!  One of the things I’m glad I now know is that spinach isn’t a good source of calcium because it is high in oxalates (and you’re right, a lot of nutritionists get that wrong!).

    What about calcium in canned salmon and sardines?  Is that pretty easy for the body to absorb?

    — Jessica Unter
    (City Withheld), TX

    Sardines — and canned salmon, for that matter — lack compounds that interfere with calcium absorption.  Much like dark, leafy green vegetables (kale, mustard greens, bok choy, and collard greens) and tofu, sardines are a great calcium source for anyone who is lactose intolerant or has a milk allergy.

    Diets very high in total protein can affect calcium levels, but that does not mean a food high in protein has that effect.

    Three ounces of sardines contribute a third of the daily value of calcium.

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    You Ask, I Answer: Fish Oil Supplements & Mercury

    fish-oil-tabletsIs there anything in particular I should look for when buying fish oil supplements?

    Also, should I be worried about mercury levels?

    — Dennise O’Grady
    Bay Head, NJ

    The main thing you want to look for is the presence of DHA and EPA (you want anywhere from 500 to 1,000 milligrams of each of those essential fatty acids).

    Oil from krill (small, cold-water crustaceans that live in the ocean floor) is apparently starting to be considered the golden standard in some circles since it appears to be the most easily absorbable, and also contains antioxidants not found in oil from fish.

    That said, oil from actual fish is just as good a source of those two fatty acids.

    Since fish oils are extracted from fish that are very low on the food chain (e.g.: mackerel, herring, sardines, cod), mercury contamination is not a concern.

    My rule of thumb is: food first, then supplements.  If you can get your omega-3 fatty acids from eating fish, that is best.

    However, I realize there are some barriers.  Some people do not like the taste of fish, others are vegetarian, and, as is the case with salmon, there is always the doubt of whether the fish you are eating is wild or farmed (farmed fish tend to have lower levels of omega-3 fatty acids).

    For those interested in eating their DHA and EPA, I highly recommend sardines.  They are never farmed, so you can always expect a good dose of those two omega-3 fatty acids!

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    Numbers Game: Answer

    Which of the following provides the highest amount of omega-3 fatty acids?

    a) 4 ounces of fresh cold-water salmon
    b) 4 ounces of canned sardines (in oil)
    c) 4 ounces of fresh lobster
    d) 4 ounces of canned salmon

    e) Trick question. They all provide the same amount!

    The correct answer is “d” — canned salmon. Four ounces pack in 2.2 grams of Omega-3 fatty acids!

    The remaining fish?

    4 ounces of fresh cold-water salmon provide 1.7 grams, sardines contribute 1.8 grams, and fresh lobster contains 0.1 grams.

    Omega-3’s are essential (meaning our bodies can not produce them) polyunsaturated fatty acids that have been linked in hundreds of studies to lower risks of heart disease, cancers, rheumatoid arthritis, and even Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

    Recommendations are currently set at 1 to 2 grams a day (or 7 – 14 grams a week).

    Why does canned salmon edge out cold-water salmon? Simple — all canned salmon is wild.

    The figure for cold-water salmon, meanwhile, is an average that takes into account wild and farmed salmon.

    Farmed salmon offers lower levels of Omega-3 fatty acids since they are fed grains (rather than subsisting on a natural diet of small marine creatures).

    Although all salmon is a great source of Vitamin D (four ounces provide a day’s worth!), canned salmon offers an additional bonus — calcium. Turns out the cooking process softens the bones to such a degree that they can be eaten.

    The result? A quarter of your day’s calcium needs in a (lactose-free) four-ounce piece!

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