The following information is provided to help you make informed seafood choices, and feel good about choosing Limestone Springs Rainbow Trout as part of a diverse and balanced diet. We thank the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture for their work in preparing this article in answer to the many questions we all raise about what is good and safe to eat.
– Limestone Springs
Better Health with Pennsylvania Farm-Raised Trout
Pennsylvania trout farms have been producing fish for more than a century. Extensive scientific research shows that farm-raised trout are a high-quality, nutritious food that is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. Experts recommend two weekly meals (12 ounces) of fatty fish which are high in Omega-3 fatty acids.
Pennsylvania farm-raised trout are low in saturated fat, high in protein, provide valuable vitamins and minerals and contain high levels of the Omega-3 fatty acids that are important to human health. Understanding the different types of Omega-3s and how they affect health is an emerging science. Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fat. There are a few types of Omega-3s: EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), and ALA (alpha-linolenic acid). The major food sources of ALA are vegetable oils, principally canola and soybean oils. Other food sources that are rich in ALA are flaxseed and English walnuts. Intake of ALA in the United States currently is at or above typical minimum health recommendations.
About 2.8g per week of EPA and DHA omega-3s are recommended in order to maintain good health. Recommendations for EPA and DHA intake by the Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine and The National Academies, in collaboration with Health Canada are nearly 10 times more than the current average American’s intake. Although some ALA is converted in the body to EPA and DHA, the extent of this conversion is minimal. EPA and DHA are the most valuable of the three fatty acids noted to health and wellness and both come from fish oils. Both play an important role in normal function of the heart, brain, eyes, nervous system, kidney and liver.
EPA and DHA “essential” fats have also been proven to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and inflammation. They significantly reduce the risk of sudden death caused by cardiac arrhythmias and decrease mortality in patients with known cardiovascular disease and inflammation. Other health benefits include treating rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s (because of their anti-inflammatory properties); treating depression and other psychological disorders (because they may boost levels of serotonin and dopamine, decreasing depression and violent behavior); reducing the risk of diabetes, insulin resistance in people with diabetes, psoriasis and other skin conditions; reducing osteoporosis (because they may enhance bone density); prevention of stroke, reduction in the risk of age-related macular degeneration, slowing the progression of Alzheimer’s disease, halting mental decline, and fighting cancer (as they may inhibit cancer cells in the breast, prostate and colon). In infants, studies show that omega-3s improve cognition and visual acuity.
Considering all fish species, farm-raised rainbow trout contain one of the highest levels of EPA and DHA. Only about 3 ounces of farm-raised rainbow trout are required to gain 1 gram of EPA and DHA. In contrast, intake of 23 ounces of Pacific cod, for example, is required to gain that same gram of EPA and DHA. About two meals (8.4 ounces) of farm-raised rainbow trout will supply the minimal weekly requirement of EPA and DHA.
Each person in the United States consumed an average 16.6 pounds of fish and seafood in 2004 (the most current year fish consumption records are available). This represents a slight increase from 2003 (16.3 pounds per person) and equals only about 5 ounces per week — substantially less than the 12 ounces per week recommended in the U.S. Dietary Guidelines.
Recently, consumers have been bombarded by confusing messages surrounding fish consumption and its potential health implications. In light of this confusing barrage of information, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) felt it important to “set the record straight and to tell all Americans that fish continues to represent an important part of a balanced diet.” Studies show that if fish consumption is reduced by the general public (including out of fear or misunderstandings), substantial nutritional benefits could be lost.
All fish farms in Pennsylvania are required to be licensed by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. Aquaculture is defined by the Pennsylvania Aquaculture Development Act as the “controlled cultivation of aquatic plants, animals and microorganisms.” Controlled cultivation is critical to maintaining quality and consistency. Aquatic farms feed their fish food that is manufactured in commercial feed mills and under controlled conditions regulated by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture (PDA) and the FDA. Animal feed mills are required to maintain unavoidable environmental contaminants within the FDA’s and PDA’s established tolerances.
The substances of most concern in fish are mercury and PCBs. Fish most likely to accumulate mercury are long-living fish, high on the food chain, and residing in large bodies of water where exposure to methylmercury is most likely. The pristine water sources that supply Pennsylvania ‘s trout farms are not likely to contain mercury or PCBs in levels of concern.
A 2005 study confirms that farm-raised trout are extremely low in mercury. Scientists from North Carolina State University , the University of Idaho and Environmental Quality Institute (EQI) of UNC-Ashville earmarked a project to determine whether farm-raised trout in the U.S. offered a seafood choice consistently low in mercury. Farm-raised rainbow trout from Pennsylvania , North Carolina , Michigan and Idaho were collected and analyzed by the EQI. Results showed all samples to be well below levels of concern and most below levels of detection. Private trout farm PCB testing shared with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture shows levels to be non-detectable at the limits of the private laboratories ability to test (in some cases, .01ppm, in others 0.1ppm). Industry efforts to further confirm the purity of Pennsylvania ‘s farm-raised trout continue.
The year 2004 marks the first time the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the FDA combined their advice into a single, uniform advisory. This advisory is for pregnant women, nursing mothers, women who may become pregnant, and young children concerning the need to minimize their exposure to mercury resulting from the consumption of certain fish and shellfish. The EPA and FDA outline a clear set of guidelines to help Americans continue to consume and enjoy the health benefits of fish while lowering the risk of any harmful effects from mercury.
The nutritional benefits of fish consumption are substantial and it’s important for pregnant women, nursing mothers, women who may become pregnant, young children and in fact, all consumers to continue eating fish, but to avoid those fish that are high in mercury. As with any food or health product, there are risks to consumption, but thanks to better scientific information and various public health and safety initiatives by federal and state governments, Americans can and should feel comfortable consuming fish and should know that the U.S. food supply remains among the safest in the world.
Buying fish from a Pennsylvania trout farm means that the product is grown in a controlled, regulated and clean environment. Consult the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Public Health Advisory for more information on this subject. The advisory provides sound advice on quantities of fish that are safe to consume from different water sources within the state. Through this advice, anglers can reap the health benefits derived from fish consumption while limiting possible negative effects from contaminants. The information also includes advice on cleaning and cooking fresh fish.
Trout, the quintessential low-fat, low-sodium food that tastes great!
USDA Nutrient Data Laboratory. Available at: http://www.nalusda.gov/fnic/foodcomp/ . Accessed July 17, 2006
South Carolina 's Home Page www.thestate.com Here's the Skinny on Omega-3 fat
“Nurses Health Study,” Journal of the American Medical Association, January 23, 2001 . Channing Laboratory, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School , Harvard School of Public Health, Univ. of Miami .
“The Age-Related Eye Study,” Archives of Ophthalmology, August, 2001. Harvard Medical School, Harvard School of Public Health, National Eye Institute, Johns Hopkins Univ.; Univ. Illinois, Manhattan Eye, Ear& Throat Hospital.
NOAA: www.noaa.gov NOAA Fisheries Service: www.nmfs.noaa.gov
Commercial Feed Rules and Regulations (PDF) – PA Code, Title 7, Part III Subpart C, Chapter 71
Pet Food Regulations (PDF) www.agriculture.state.pa.us
21 CFR Parts 500-589. www.fda.gov/cvm/aboutcvm.html www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/CFRSearch.cfm?fr=509.30
U.S. Department of Health and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, What you Need to Know about Mercury in Fish and Shellfish www.cfsan.fda.gov/seafood1html www.epa.gov/mercury.
2006 Pennsylvania Summary of Fishing Regulations and Laws www.fish.state.pa.us
Americans are eating more fish today than they did ten years ago. Fish has been described as the “quintessential low-fat, low sodium food,” thereby appealing to our increasing concern about health and nutrition, as well as great taste. Fish is a wonderful source of protein, vitamins and minerals, and is naturally low in calories. Rainbow trout is an excellent source of Omega 3 fatty acids.
USDA recommends two meals per week of Omega 3s. Why not make one of those meals trout?