Fish livers contain beneficial fatty acids

Monday, May 9, 2011

lqNnQ5TAY032V52QThe fishing industry usually discards fish livers, but they are actually a good source of polyunsaturated fatty acids which are beneficial to health, according to a new study.

Fish livers have hardly been used to date, with exceptions such as cod livers, which are used to produce the well-known medicinal oil.

However, these organs contain compounds that are beneficial to health, according to researchers from the University of Almeria, Spain, reports the Journal of Food Composition and Analysis.

"The livers of edible fish are a good source of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFA), especially those in the omega 3 family, such as eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)," said Jose Luis Guil-Guerrero, who led the study.

These fatty acids are used to prevent and treat some kinds of cancer, depression, Alzheimer's disease, schizophrenia, behavioural problems and cardiovascular diseases, according to an Almeria statement.

The study focused on 12 kinds of fish that are commonly eaten in south eastern Spain, such as hake, shortfin mako and European pilchard.

The livers of the great weever and the European anchovy were those that showed up the highest levels of LCPUFA.

Besides, all the species had a combination of omega-3/omega-6 acids that was "beneficial for human consumption", especially in the case of the liver of the blue whiting.

"Unfortunately, discarding these livers means that all their nutritional properties are missed," said Guil-Guerrero, "and if they were used this would also reduce the environmental pollution caused by throwing innards into the water".

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