Fish Oil Recipe & Nutrition | Precision Nutrition's Encyclopedia of Food

Fish Oil

Fish Oil

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At a Glance

Fish oil is oil from fish. Delish! Fish oil has become a popular supplement due to its rich concentration of omega 3 fats, which help to support brain health, promote healthy cellular communication, and manage inflammation, among other things. Fish oil can come from many different sources. Some popular ones include sardine, anchovy, mackerel, herring, salmon, cod liver, fish roe, krill, and squid. Although fish oil is widely available due to its increasing popularity as a supplement, quality varies widely, so do your research before shopping. You’ll want to consider purity, potency, freshness, and sustainability, as well as what form (capsules vs. liquid) makes the most sense for you. Occasionally, you will find fish oil syrups or gummies masquerading as therapeutic supplements. Pass these over. These usually have minimal fish oil content, and therefore are little more than candy ruined by fish oil.

Overview

By its name, you can probably guess what it is. Fish oil is oil from fish.

Sound appetizing?

Fish oil straddles somewhere between a food and a supplement. While it is derived from whole foods (namely, oily fish), it is typically consumed as a supplement, rather than as part of your meal (thank goodness).

Fish oil is taken as a supplement due to its rich concentration of omega 3 fats, which are otherwise found in low amounts in most standard North American diets. Omega 3’s from fish oil are rich in two types of fatty acids: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

EPA and DHA fats are important in the body for many different reasons, including:

  • Managing inflammation, and therefore inhibiting many disease processes
  • Providing structure to the eyes, brain, and nervous system
  • Keeping cell membranes healthy, which allows cells to behave and communicate properly

Depending on the brand, fish oils can be sourced from different fish or a combination of fish. Common sources include: sardine, mackerel, anchovy, herring, and salmon. Sometimes fish oil is derived from fish livers, such as cod liver oil or halibut liver oil. Fish oil can also be sourced from a variety of other sea life, such as fish roe, krill, shark, tuna, and squid.

Smaller fish like sardine, mackerel, and anchovy are often preferred sources for fish oil because they are more environmentally sustainable and are lower on the food chain (and therefore are less likely to accumulate environmental toxins such as heavy metals, PCBs, and dioxins).

Identification

Fish oil is an oily liquid that, depending on the source, can be colorless or have a subtle yellow tinge. Fresh fish oil generally smells and tastes only lightly fishy. If fish oil smells or tastes strong, it is usually because of excess oxidation, meaning it has gone rancid.

Some sources of fish oil, such as those from salmon, krill, or fish roe will have a stronger fish taste as well as a mild to deep orange color, which comes from the presence of astaxanthin, a carotenoid in the vitamin A family.

Many brands flavor their oils (the most common flavor being lemon), so your fish oil will take on the taste and odor of whatever flavors have been added to it.

Generally, fish oil is sold as a liquid, or in capsules.

Nutrition Info

One teaspoon of fish oil (about 4.5g) has 41 calories, 4.5g of fat, and no protein, carbohydrates, fiber, or sugar.

Depending on the source of the fish oil, the amounts of DHA and EPA will vary, as will any other naturally occurring vitamins.

For example, oil sources from the bodies of sardines, mackerel, anchovies, herring, and salmon will typically have a ratio of EPA to DHA of about 1.5 to 1, whereas oil from squid will have a higher ratio of DHA to EPA, of about 2:1.

Fish oil sourced from liver (commonly cod or halibut) will have lower amounts of omega 3 but rich amounts of naturally occurring vitamin A and vitamin D, whereas fish oil from fish bodies will be more concentrated in omega 3’s, but without significant vitamin content.

As mentioned, some sources of oil, such as salmon, fish roe, and krill will contain the carotenoid astaxanthin, giving it an orange tint.

Selection

Over the past decade, fish oil supplementation has become more mainstream, and therefore fish oil supplements are widely available in anywhere from small independent health food stores to large one-stop-shopping box store chains.

However, the quality of fish oil supplements varies greatly, so do a little research and learn how to read labels. Here are a few things to look for:

Third-party testing:

Your fish oil supplement should be tested for potency, purity, and freshness. Good quality fish oil companies will use third-party testing to ensure that:

  • The levels of omega 3s match the potency stated on the label;
  • Their product is free of excess heavy metals, dioxins, PCBs, and other contaminants;
  •  Upon packaging and with standard suggested use, their product doesn’t generate excessive oxidation by-products, which are markers for rancidity.

Source:

You may also want to consider the sustainability of the species your fish oil is sourced from. Generally, fish oils from smaller fish such as sardines, mackerel, anchovies, as well as oil sourced from fish scraps (heads and tails) are more environmentally friendly options.

As a supplement, fish oil comes in two ways: As a liquid or in softgels. So that’s another choice you’ll have to make. Generally, liquids are easier when consuming larger doses, and they are also typically better value. Capsules may be more convenient for people who travel or for those with a strong distaste for fish oil.

Other ingredients:

Read the ingredients label of your fish oil. The first ingredient should be the fish (or fishes) from which the oil is sourced. Companies will also usually add one or more ingredients with antioxidant properties (such as vitamin E, green tea extract, rosemary essential oil, etc) to prevent rancidity, as well as a natural flavoring agent (for example, lemon oil). Other than those categories of ingredients, there shouldn’t be much else in your fish oil product.

Occasionally, you may encounter fish oil supplements in the form of syrups or gummy candies. Pass these over. They usually contain very little omega 3 and a lot of sweeteners, texturizers, coloring agents, and other unnecessary additives.

Storage

First and foremost, follow the instructions on the supplement label for information on how to store your fish oil.

Generally, liquids should be stored in the fridge after opening. After three months, discard the bottle and whatever is left in it. Unless stated otherwise on the label, most fish oil will become rancid around this time.

Capsules are shelf-stable, unless the label says differently, but should be kept in a cool, dark, dry area to maintain freshness. Follow the label for expiry dates.

Preparation

Most people find fish oil is digested better when taken with food. Otherwise, taking fish oil is simple.

If you have capsules, swallow them with some water.

If you have a liquid, pour it onto a spoon and airplane the spoon into your mouth.

Recipe: SMOKED TROUT, WALNUT, AND ENDIVE SALAD WITH SECRET FISH OIL DRESSING

Fish Oil

Thanks to a healthy dose of citrus, omega 3-rich fish oil, the secret ingredient in this salad dressing, is completely disguised. This dressing is versatile and can go on nearly any salad, but is particularly well suited to this pairing of smoked trout, crunchy walnuts, and fresh greens.

Ingredients

lemon flavored fish oil
2 tbsp
extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp
lemon jucie
1 tbsp
grainy mustard
1 tsp
maple syrup
1 tsp
shallot bulb, finely minced
1 medium
sea salt
1/4 tsp
endives, chopped
3 cups
sunflower sprouts
1 cup
smoked trout, flaked into bitesize pieces
10 oz
walnut halves, toasted
1/3 cup

Directions

Prep Time: 15 minutes   Cook Time: 0 minutes   Yield: 2 servings

In a jar, whisk together fish oil, olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, maple syrup, minced shallot, and salt. Set aside while you prepare the salad.

Divide chopped endives, sunflower sprouts, and smoked trout onto two plates. Top with toasted walnuts, and drizzle with dressing. Serve immediately.

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At a Glance

Fish oil is oil from fish. Delish! Fish oil has become a popular supplement due to its rich concentration of omega 3 fats, which help to support brain health, promote healthy cellular communication, and manage inflammation, among other things. Fish oil can come from many different sources. Some popular ones include sardine, anchovy, mackerel, herring, salmon, cod liver, fish roe, krill, and squid. Although fish oil is widely available due to its increasing popularity as a supplement, quality varies widely, so do your research before shopping. You’ll want to consider purity, potency, freshness, and sustainability, as well as what form (capsules vs. liquid) makes the most sense for you. Occasionally, you will find fish oil syrups or gummies masquerading as therapeutic supplements. Pass these over. These usually have minimal fish oil content, and therefore are little more than candy ruined by fish oil.