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The consumption of fish and fish-derived products is recommended as a means of preventing cardiovascular and other diseases, and has considerably increased over recent decades. However, as the world's wild fish stocks are limited, consumers are now being proposed farmed fish as an alternative. The aim of this study was to compare the fat composition of farmed and wild fish in order to estimate whether the expected health effects of the former (especially in relation to cardiovascular diseases) are potentially the same as those of the latter.
The data presented in this paper were collected from the recently published literature. The lipid composition of farmed fish is more constant and less affected by seasonal variations than that of wild fish because, as it is largely dependent on the fatty acid composition of their feed, it can be customised by adjusting dietary intakes. Vegetable food is increasingly replacing fishmeal in fish feeds, and may induce a relative decrease in n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), expressed as a percentage of total fatty acids. However, as farmed fish generally have higher total lipid levels than wild fish, 100 g of farmed fish fillet can provide a higher amount of n-3 PUFAs (especially EPA and DHA) than 100 g of wild fish. Furthermore, quite high levels of α-tocopherol in farmed fish can theoretically provide better EPA and DHA protection against peroxidation. Sensory analyses by trained consumer panels have not revealed any significant differences between wild and farmed fish. Moreover, fresh fish storage conditions (including the time from slaughtering to consumer sales) are more easily verifiable in the case of farmed fish, in which the content of potentially toxic heavy metals (a major health concern in certain areas) is also theoretically more easily controlled.
Provided that they are raised under appropriate conditions, the nutritional content of farmed fish is at least as beneficial as that of wild fish (particularly in terms of the prevention of cardiovascular diseases), and they also have the advantages of freshness and apparent non-toxicity.
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Accepted: September 2, 2003
Received: July 22, 2003
© 2004 Elsevier Science. Published by Elsevier Inc.