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Evaluating nutritional quality of Pacific fish species from fatty acid signatures

Huynh, Minh Dieu, Kitts, David D.
Food chemistry 2009 v.114 no.3 pp. 912-918
food analysis, food composition, nutrient content, nutritive value, fatty acid composition, omega-3 fatty acids, seafoods, fish, lipid content, species differences, food quality, Pacific States
Eight fish species common to the Pacific Northwest coastal waters were categorised according to total lipids in a ranking from lean fish (e.g. walleye pollock) to oily fish (e.g. herring) species. Comprehensive fatty acid signatures were compared on both the relative proportion of total fatty acids and the proportion of total carcass lipid content. Generally, fish species from the Pacific coast had a relatively high proportion of n-3 highly polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 HUFAs), of which more than 80% was accounted for by C20:5n-3 (EPA) and C22:6n-3 (DHA), with species-specific and lower proportions of oleic acid (C18:1n-9) and palmitic acid (C16:0) also dominating. The MUFA contents of fish were lower (P <0.05) in the lipids of lean and low-fat fish compared to those of fattier species. In contrast, higher (P <0.05) proportions of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) existed in the low-fat species with DHA contents ranging from 18% to 29% in the low-fat fish and from 8% to 10% in the fattier fish, such as herring and capelin. Expressing the same fatty acid content data in terms of absolute amount of fatty acids (e.g. gFA/100g wet tissue) showed that both EPA and DHA contents in the flesh of pollock and hake were indeed many fold lower than those found in fatty fish, such as herring. The findings confirm that it is important that both the total lipid content and the fatty acid composition of these Pacific fish food sources be considered when making evaluations on the nutritional quality.