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NZ seafood a healthy choice say researchers

Media Release
12 April 2005

New Zealand seafood a healthy choice say researchers

New Zealand seafoods are an excellent source of omega-3 oils which are vital for maintaining our health say researchers from The University of Auckland.

The amount of omega-3 found in 20 commonly eaten New Zealand seafoods, including canned fish, was surveyed by Masters student Sagar Katvi and Professor Charmian O’Connor from the Food Science Programme in the Faculty of Science.

The research was undertaken in conjunction with Dr Andrew Jeffs from NIWA and assisted by funding from the New Zealand Heart Foundation.

Omega-3 oil has been shown to be vital for growing eye and brain tissues, and for maintaining good health especially for protecting against heart disease and stroke as well as other common human disorders.

Seafood is one of the main dietary sources of omega-3 and the consumption of seafood in New Zealand is low in comparison to many countries, despite it being readily available, says Sagar.

The level of omega-3 content varied widely between different seafoods, with some local species such as salmon, jack mackerel, kahawai and grey mullet having very high levels, making them an excellent choice for a healthy diet.

For example, the level of omega-3 found in farmed salmon was so high only a small amount (30 grams - a piece about the size of a fish finger) needed to be eaten each week to reach the dietary intake recommended by the New Zealand Heart Foundation, he says.

As part of the study, Sagar also looked at how much would be added to the weekly grocery bill for people to purchase enough of each type of seafood to meet the recommended intake of omega-3.

“Previous studies suggest that the perceived price of seafood is a key reason why New Zealanders are not eating as much seafood as they need to provide enough omega-3 for their good health,” says Sagar.

“However, our results were really quite surprising. Twenty five cents a week, less than the cost of a lollipop, would buy you enough mackerel to get you your omega-3 - and for more costly fish, such as salmon, it would cost you less than a dollar.”

- ENDS -

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