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How Much Omega-3 Should be Consumed in a Week?

30 October 2014

Ninety-six per cent of adults do not know the recommended amount of omega-3 fat they should have in one week, says Fish is the Dish, the consumer face of Seafish, the industry authority on seafood.

Ninety-six per cent of adults do not know the recommended amount of omega-3 fat they should have in one week, says Fish is the Dish, the consumer face of Seafish, the industry authority on seafood.

And despite it being one of the main dietary recommendations in this country, just over one in four adults (27 per cent ) recognises they should eat two portions of fish a week, one of which should be oily. No surprise then that only four per cent of us know that we ought to get roughly 3g of long-chain omega-3 fats a week.

The new research carried out by YouGov, as part of the Fish is the Dish ‘Feed Your Mind’ omega-3 campaign, found that while 75 per cent of adults know that omega-3 fats are linked to health benefits – such as helping to keep the heart working normally, and maintaining normal blood pressure, brain function and vision – almost a fifth (18 per cent) don’t know the difference between omega-3 and saturated fats.

Juliette Kellow, Fish is the Dish resident consultant dietician and nutrition expert explains: “There is work to be done educating people on how much omega-3 rich fish we should be eating in order to reap the benefits for our bodies. As a starting point, we need to do more to ensure that people understand the very simple message that they should eat two portions of fish each week, and one of these should be oily such as mackerel, sardines, pilchards, herring, fresh tuna, trout or salmon. If people achieve this, then they should get the 3g of long-chain omega-3 fats, recommended by the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition.”

But it’s important to get the serving size right! Disappointingly, but unsurprisingly, 63 per cent of adults said they did not know the weight of fish that should count as one serving. Only 15 per cent knew that when cooked, the recommended serving size should be about 140g.

“Portion size is so important,” says Juliette. “If the portion size is too small, chances are, many people may not get enough omega-3 in their diet.”

Juliette also says it’s important to enjoy a range of fish. “Oil-rich fish are well recognised as being naturally rich in long-chain omega-3 fats – the form that the body can most easily use – but shellfish including crab, prawns and mussels, and even white fish still give a good dose in addition to other nutrients, including protein and a variety of vitamins and minerals.”

Mackerel was recognised as the top choice for being a good source of omega-3 fats with 66 per cent of adults identifying the torpedo-shaped fish. Interestingly, the percentage of respondents choosing mackerel increased with age, from 45 per cent of 18-24 year olds compared to 76 per cent of 55+ year olds.Sardines were recognised as the second best choice – 59 per cent of adults said this – followed by salmon (41 per cent) and fresh tuna (35 per cent). But just three per cent recognised mussels, crab or prawns, as being rich in omega-3 fats.

Meanwhile, the knowledge gap varied dramatically between the generations when it came to respondents knowing what fish are good sources of omega-3. Of 18-24 year olds, 36 per cent were unable to identify an oil-rich species as opposed to only 13 per cent of 55+ year olds.

During National Seafood Week, 3 to 10 October, the Fish is the Dish ‘Feed Your Mind’ campaign is aiming to get as many people as possible enjoying the great taste and variety of seafood while getting the amazing health benefits of omega-3 rich fish. There are lots of fun and different ways to enjoy fish with all the family as part of a balanced and nutritious diet.

Commenting on the results of the research, Heather Middleton, who heads up Fish is the Dish, said: “The results of our research regarding awareness of the positive impact of omega-3 fats on our bodies is great. There is now a job to be done on the education around recommended weekly intake and how people can go about getting that into their weekly meals at breakfast, lunch and dinner.

“Fillet or finger, fresh, frozen or tinned it’s all good for you! Preparation and cooking time for fish is quicker than you think, particularly if you use pre-cooked or tinned omega-3 rich fish that still hold all the nutrients, vitamins and minerals of fresh fish. Take advantage of your local fish monger, they want to share their own love of fish with you so don’t be afraid to ask their advice, or keep an eye out for the best deals at your supermarket.

“There is lots of information on the health benefits and easy tips for families about getting fish into their children’s diet from a young age, as well as tasty and simple recipes for everyone to enjoy on our Fish is the Dish web site.”

October 2014

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