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Dr. Barb, the Nutrition Budgeteer

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Seafood Sources of EPA and DHA
 

The Dietary Guidelines for 2010 recommend that people eat 8 ounces of seafood per week. Currently, the “average” person eats only 3.5 ounces in a week. Seafood contributes protein and a number of important nutrients including omega-3 fatty acids. These omega-3 fatty acids include eicosapentaenoic acid (or EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (or DHA). By eating 8 ounces of seafood per week, the Dietary Guidelines estimate that you would get about 250 mg a day of EPA and DHA or 1750 mg in a week.

The Dietary Guidelines also point out that evidence shows that the health benefits from eating a variety of seafood in amounts recommended outweigh the health risks associated with methyl mercury, a heavy metal found in seafood in varying levels.

What are the least expensive sources of EPA and DHA? Take a look at the chart below to see how your favor seafood fares. All EPA and DHA values are for 3 ounces of cooked seafood by dry heat unless noted otherwise. Cost per serving is for 4 ounces of raw seafood (such as raw fish fillets) or 3 ounces of cooked seafood (such as canned fish).

 

EPA + DHA

Total

(mg)*

(3 oz cooked)

Calories*

(3 oz cooked)

Regular

Cost per

Pound**

Regular

Cost per

Serving

Sale

Cost per

Pound**

Sale

Cost per

Serving

Comments

herring, Atlantic,

canned in oil,

drained

1827  184$4.71 $0.89   $2.49 for 8.45 oz. can 
salmon, Atlantic, farm raised 1825175 $8.99 $2.25    
anchovies, canned or jarred in oil1747178  $3.81$0.72   $2.59 for 4.2 oz jar 
mackerel, fresh, Pacific1571  171 $2.89$1.45   $2.89 for whole fish 
tuna, fresh, bluefin1279 156 *** ***    
sardines, Pacific, in tomato sauce, drained solids with bone1186 157   $2.30  $0.43$0.79 for 5.5 oz can at discount market 
herring, pickled1181  223$5.59 $1.05   $4.19 for 12 oz jar in wine sauce 
oysters, cooked, moist heat1170 139  $6.65$1.66   $4.99 for 12 oz bucket, shucked 
mackerel, Jack, canned, drained solids 1046133  $1.91$0.42   $1.79 for 15 oz can; 4.25 servings per can 
sardines, Atlantic, canned in oil, drained solids with bone903191$18.15 $3.42 $14.69 $2.77 $4.99 for 4.4 oz can; $3.44 for 3.75 oz can on sale 
salmon, fresh, wild, coho900 118  $12.99$3.25 $8.99 $2.25  
salmon, pink, canned, drained solids with bone894  116 $8.52 $1.61  $3.99 for 7.5 oz can 
trout, rainbow, fresh, wild840 128 $10.99 $2.75    
swordfish, fresh, wild764  146$15.99 $4.00    
trout, rainbow, farm raised744 143 $7.99$2.00    
tuna, white (albacore), canned in water, drained 733 109$6.40 $1.21   $2.00 for 5 oz can 
salmon, sockeye, fresh, wild 673144 $11.99 $3.00    
oysters, Pacific, raw584 69 *** ***    
whiting fillets 441 99$3.24 $0.81 $2.49  $0.62$9.99 for 4 pound bag on sale 
oysters, canned in water and salt373 58   $5.18  $.98$2.59 for 8 oz can on sale 
crab, Alaska king, moist heat351 82   $8.99   
crab, dungeness, moist heat 335 94  $9.99   
flounder/sole255 73  $11.99$3.00 $7.99 $2.00  
tuna, light, canned in water, drained230 99 $4.13 $0.79   $1.29 for 5 oz can 
catfish, fresh, wild201 89 $7.99 $2.00    
lobster, Northern, moist heat165 76 $26.97 $8.50   $16.99 for two 5 oz portions; includes shell 
crab, blue, fresh, moist heat143  71$27.98 $7.00    
crawfish, fresh, moist heat141  70  $3.00  $8.99 for 3 pound bag; includes shell 
cod, fresh, Pacific136  72  $4.99 $1.25 
haddock, fresh 13676  $9.99$2.50 $4.99 $1.25  
cod, fresh, Atlantic134 89  $8.99$2.25 $4.99 $1.25  
tilapia, fresh115 109 $10.65 $2.66 $5.99 $1.50  
tuna, fresh, yellowfin102  110$14.99 $3.75 $9.99 $2.50  
shrimp, moist heat 87101   $7.99 $2.00  
catfish, farm raised, also called swai if from Asia76 122   $4.99 $1.25  
crab, imitation, made from surimi 1981 $6.98 $1.32    
* EPA and DHA nutritional values were obtained from USDA’s Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 23.
** NutritionBudgeteer.com determined the prices given here by reviewing food products at Mid-Atlantic supermarkets or stores in March/April 2011. If an item was found to be on sale, it is noted. Food items are either “store brand” or “branded” products. The later refers to nationally available branded products. The prices you find may vary, depending on your location and retailer.
*** Unable to find this fish in the marketplace.
 
Dr. Barb's Analysis: Many people have heard to look for fatty fish for EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids. As you can see from this chart, herring, anchovies, mackerel, and sardines not only tend to have more omega-3s, but they are also among the least expensive when you look at the cost per serving. Farm-raised Atlantic salmon has twice as much EPA/DHA than the wild coho salmon. Canned salmon, which is cost saving option, has almost the same amount as the wild coho salmon. There is quite a difference among fresh tuna, canned albacore tuna, and the canned light tuna, from 1279 mg to 733 mg to 230 mg respectfully. At $0.62 a serving on sale, the whiting fillets are a budget saver. Farmed raised seafood sometimes has more EPA/DHA than its wild counterpart (as in the case of Atlantic salmon) and sometimes has less (as in the case of catfish and trout). While imitation crab or lobster surimi is cost effective, these products do not contain much omega-3 fatty acids.