Yesterday, Patrick Holford was featured in a Manchester Evening News article on hayfever. There’s too much in the article to cover here, so I’m going to focus on what he said about cooking fish (sorry, the effects of posting while hungry).
For Holford, while he recommends omega 3 supplements, you also “can and should obtain these from eating unfried, unbreaded fish”. That got me thinking about why fish should be unfried and unbreaded.
Firstly, omega 3 fats aren’t terribly bright. They don’t much care whether they fish is breaded or not. Breading mackerel – for example – before baking or pan frying isn’t going to somehow damage its omega 3 content (breading mackerel/herring strips, then baking to make ‘fish fingers’, is also sometimes suggested as a way to get kids to eat oily fish – and seems pretty sensible).
Secondly, the issue around frying is a bit more complex. Having read through way too many papers pubmed about how cooking fish effects the omega 3 content, there is disagreement between different papers – for example, one paper found a nutritionally significant 11% fat reduction when salmon was fried, while another found, on the contrary, it’s hard to destroy the omega 3 fats in herring through cooking because “fatty acids have a high durability and a low susceptibility to thermal oxidative processes“.
In order words, it looks like the effects of cooking on the omega 3 content of fish may vary depending on the type of fish, length of cooking, and just blind luck. Frying fish may reduce the omega 3 content – but unless you char it to a crisp this is unlikely to completely destroy these fats. In other words, eat a healthy, varied diet, without too much fried food or junk food – but hopefully your common sense would tell you this, without the need to see a nutritionist.