Does Frying, Baking and Canning Fish Affect the Omega-3 Content?

When people try their first Omega Cookie®, they often ask: “How do you know that the omega-3 fish oil benefits don’t get destroyed in the baking process?”

It’s a good question and something every person interested in increasing their omega-3 intake should consider. After all, how you prepare your fish and fish oil supplements affects the omega-3 fatty acid content and quality.

While there is still not a lot of research about how frying, baking and canning fish affects the omega-3 content, a few interesting studies give us a good indication of what may happen during the heating process.

Omega-3 Content in Fried Tuna Versus Cooked Tuna

When you fry fish in a skillet, you expose the omega-3 fatty acids to high temperatures. As the omega-3 gets overheated, the fatty acids begin to break down, meaning you may end up with significantly less omega-3 in your meal.

One study from India examined the omega-3 content in fried tuna. Researchers found that a shocking 70 to 85 percent of the EPA and DHA omega-3s were destroyed in the frying process. Study investigators also explored several other ways of preparing the tuna. The verdict:

– Canning destroyed virtually all the omega-3 content in the tuna.

– Cooking the tuna, as opposed to canning, frying and microwaving, preserved the greatest amount of EPA and DHA fatty acids.

EPA and DHA Content in Baked Fish

Another recent study from Greece compared different ways of preparing fish – this time working with anchovies and sardines in an oven.

The researchers found that when they baked sardines rich in EPA and DHA for 20 minutes at 200°C (about 400°F), the fish retained its rich EPA and DHA content. However, when they fried the fish, researchers noted that the fatty acid profile changed completely. It no longer resembled the fatty acid structure of the original fish!

The Healthiest Way to Prepare Fish

Actually, it is no surprise that frying fish provides fewer nutrients than baking or cooking fish. After all, fried foods are typically more processed, containing more destructive fats than other types of prepared foods. However, the implications of these studies are important for the fish and fish oil consumer.

In both studies cited above, baking or boiling the fish best preserved the omega-3. Combining the fish with olive oil also seemed to add extra protection to the omega-3 fats. Following the researchers’ advice, we should ask for baked or boiled presentations, rather than deep frying or even pan frying meals. And while we don’t want to raise any red flags about canned tuna just yet, it would be appropriate to suggest that canned food does not have the same nutritional value as fresh food.

Omega-3 Implications for Research Studies

For omega-3 researchers too, these findings could be crucial to future epidemiological studies. When comparing diet impact on health outcomes, researchers typically record the consumption of seafood, but not how that seafood is prepared.

For example, in a large study about omega-3 some years ago, researchers included deep fried fish and chips as a source of omega-3, and concluded that omega-3 lacked any real health value. Study results may have been completely different if the impact of fish preparation had been included in the analyses.

To accurately determine the advantages of consuming omega-3 fatty acids going forward, it is imperative we pay attention to the preparation and quality of the source material reported in the studies. As the above findings indicate, not all fish and fish oil provide the same values of omega-3s so it is important to understand the disparity.

How Omega3 Innovations Is Different

Back to the original question: How do we know that in preparing our baked products, we are not destroying the omega-3 fatty acid content?

In creating the Omega Cookie® and Omega Heaven®, we paid careful attention to the influence of heat on the omega-3 rich food product by measuring the impact of temperature and time on nutritional value. We also conducted six to 12 week long clinical trials, which were designed to measure changes in blood levels of cholesterol and triglycerides — as well as the changes in chronic inflammation — to see if the fish oil was being effectively absorbed. The results exceeded typical findings from fish oil studies. Our average participant doubled the amount of EPA and DHA in his or her cell membranes, a clear indication that the fish oil was working.

We have found a way to prepare foods without creating any fishy taste, all the while maintaining the nutritional value of fresh fish. Rest assured, you can eat any Omega3 Innovations product with confidence, knowing they deliver the best omega-3 fish oil on the market today.

Still, we’re pleased you asked.

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Bo Martinsen, MD

Dr. Martinsen is an omega-3 specialist, innovator, and advocate for natural foods. As co-founder and CEO of Omega3 Innovations, he has created multiple patented technologies for medical devices designed to improve consumer compliance. He is also the creator of several medical food products that combine dose-effective ingredients of omega-3 fish oil with soluble fibers and other nutrients. Before Omega3 Innovations, Dr. Martinsen practiced medicine in Norway for 20 years. During his career, he also served as a medical consultant to large international corporations, focusing on stress management and synergistic medicine.

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