Study suggests incorporating fish fed to farmed salmon into human diet

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A recent study has brought to light a fascinating aspect of our diet and its impact on both our health and the environment.

Researchers from McLean Hospital and elsewhere have discovered that the process of producing farmed salmon results in a net loss of essential dietary nutrients, suggesting that direct consumption of wild fish like mackerel, anchovies, and herring could be more beneficial for our health.

These smaller, oily fish are packed with vital nutrients such as calcium, B12, and omega-3 fatty acids, which are crucial for reducing the risk of heart diseases and stroke.

However, when these fish are used as feed in salmon farms, a significant portion of their nutritional value is lost.

This finding challenges the current practices of aquaculture, pointing towards the inefficiency in the use of marine resources for farmed salmon production.

The study, published in Nature Food, analyzed the nutrient flow from wild fish used as feed to the farmed salmon, revealing a decrease in six out of nine essential nutrients in the salmon filet.

Interestingly, the wild fish used in the feeds were found to have a similar or greater density of micronutrients compared to the salmon filets, suggesting that consuming these wild fish directly could significantly improve our intake of essential nutrients.

In the UK, for instance, a vast majority of adults suffer from insufficient vitamin D during winter, and deficiencies in iodine, selenium, and iron are common among teenage girls and women.

Despite these deficiencies, the consumption of nutrient-rich wild fish remains remarkably low, with only a small percentage of adults eating mackerel, anchovies, or herring weekly.

The researchers propose that by directly consuming one-third of the current food-grade wild feed fish, we could maximize the nutrients obtained from the sea, addressing global nutrient deficiencies and improving the sustainability of marine fisheries.

This approach would not only benefit human health by providing essential nutrients in more efficient portion sizes but also reduce the demand for finite marine resources currently used in aquaculture feeds.

The study highlights the importance of considering nutrient retention in the aquaculture industry.

By focusing on the retention of key nutrients fed to farmed salmon, through strategic use of feed ingredients including fishery by-products and sustainably sourced fish, the industry could enhance its efficiency and reduce its environmental impact.

The researchers advocate for the adoption of a nutrient retention metric alongside the existing Fish In Fish Out (FIFO) ratios to provide a more comprehensive understanding of the industry’s impact on marine ecosystems.

This research opens up new possibilities for the aquaculture industry to innovate and grow in a way that is not only sustainable for our oceans but also beneficial for our health.

By encouraging the consumption of a greater variety of wild fish and improving nutrient retention in farmed salmon, we can enjoy the benefits of these essential nutrients directly on our plates while supporting the health of our planet.

If you care about nutrition, please read studies that ultra-processed foods may make you feel depressed, and Vitamin D could help reduce depression symptoms.

For more information about nutrition, please see recent studies about unhealthy plant-based diets linked to metabolic syndrome, and results showing Paleo diet plus exercise could boost heart health in people with diabetes

The research findings can be found in Nature Food.

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