Good news for those of us who don't eat fish! Although fish has been touted as a health food for the past 5 years, some folks are concerned about the level of mercury and other toxins (namely polychlorinated biphenals - or PCB's - and pesticides). Other factors such as cholesterol and homocysteine - which both contribute to atherosclerosis - are concerns for others who eschew fish. Then there are people like my husband, who find fish to taste, well, fishy.
A new study from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (read abstract here) has found that Omega-3 fatty acids from plants may be just as efficient as those from fish. Researchers from the School of Medicine Health Policy and Practice in England examined the diets and fatty acid status of 14,422 men and women aged 39–78 years old. While they found fish-eaters consumed higher levels of Omega-3 fatty acids in their diet, non-fish eaters had similar levels of Omega-3 in their blood as those who consumed fish regularly.
The researchers conclude that if other studies have similar findings, "it could have implications for fish requirements". In other words, confirmed by further research, fish would be recommended less for its Omega-3 content.
For a little background on this subject, plant-based foods contain a fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) that has been widely debated for its rate of conversion into the Omega-3 fatty acids that are renown for preventing disease and boosting immunity. These fatty acids are known as DHA and EPA. Some studies show that ALA does convert efficiently into DHA and EPA, while others do not. This study falls into the latter, and I believe we will see more to verify this in the future.