Purdue researchers design fishes' diets to make you healthier

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Farm-raised fish eating specially formulated diets high in fatty acids could improve people's health and also satisfy different palates, according to Purdue University researchers who are concocting designer menus for aquatic creatures.

Fatty acid feed supplements for fish may help people get government-recommended amounts of health-enhancing macronutrients, said Paul Brown, a Purdue forestry and natural resources professor. The additive he is testing currently is a type of omega-6 fatty acid called conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which researchers have found is a weapon against cancers and diabetes.

"We found by adding CLA to fishes' diets we can get more of these fatty acids into the fishes' tissues than is found in any other animal," said Brown, a nutritional aquaculturalist. "Meat and milk from ruminant animals are good sources of CLA, but these fish retain even higher levels."

Brown's research gains added importance based on a recent National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine's recommendation that people increase their consumption of food containing alpha-linoleic acid (an omega-3 fatty acid) and linoleic acid (an omega-6 fatty acid). The institute set the daily requirements, or Dietary Reference Intakes, of these macronutrients necessary to maintain health, and noted that cold-water fish, such as swordfish, tuna and salmon, are prime sources of omega-3.

Omega-3 and omega-6 are essential fatty acids, meaning they are important for health, but the human body can't produce them. Fish and shellfish already are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids important for building cells; for brain, nerve and eye function; and for lowering risks of high cholesterol, cardiovascular diseases and cancer.

"Fish have always been the original and standard measure for good sources of omega-3," Brown said. "But now we find that we can introduce other fatty acids into fish. Next we must determine if there is an opt

Contact: Susan A. Steeves
Purdue University

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