Squid pro omega

Omega-3 fatty acids need no introduction as a health food nor do the usual fishy suspects that supply these treasures in the diet. What might be news to you though, is that squid could be the omega-3 source of choice in the future.

Admittedly some of the buzz surrounding squid as an a omega-3 source at the moment is coming from Norway where researchers have developed a product dubbed “calamarine” derived from squid. Although commercial interests are involved the rationale behind squid does seem sound given that as the global population rockets past the seven billion mark, the sustainability of food and supplement sources has to be considered.

Squid ingest and accumulate omega-3 fatty acids through the food chain, mostly from algae and phytoplankton. Squid, or calamari oil, is naturally high in the omega-3 fat DHA and also contains lesser amounts of the other omega-3 fat EPA. The added bonus is that squid would appear to be a sustainable omega-3 source.

The sea is not an inexhaustible resource. Consider for instance that for every kilo of prawns you eat, it is estimated that there are between four and ten kilos of by-catch, which can include dolphins and turtles. There is also significant damage to the sea floor from net usage. There are also questions over farmed fish as an alternative including chemical usage, fish being damaged due to overpopulation, and the pollution to nearby estuaries. The latest omega-3 source on the block has been krill but there are also questions over the sustainability of the krill fishery. This is where squid would seem to have an advantage.

Reproductive age and lifespan are keys for population sustainablility. Squid reach reproductive age quickly and die after spawning, typically in less than 450 days. In contrast, the lifespan or reproductive age of yellow fin tuna, cod, anchovy and krill can be measured in years, and even decades. Long lifespan and slow reproduction, combined with aggressive fishing, can jeopardize the populations of certain species over time. The omega-3 content of squid can also be obtained from the byproducts of what is caught for human consumption. So it seems that squid is naturally a more sustainable omega-3 source and the shorter lifespan of squid lessens their exposure to lead, mercury and other ocean pollutants found in other fish.

Of course, if you choose to deep fry your squid at high temperatures in bread crumbs then the health benefits become lessened, so calamari may not be the health food you would like it to be, but squid certainly may be, and could be a source for omega-3 oils for humanity in the long term.

The WellBeing Team

The WellBeing Team

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