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Doctors: Omega-6 Rich Tilapia Healthy; Replacing With Bacon, Hamburgers Or Doughnuts 'Not Recommended'

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WASHINGTON, D.C. -- In response to confusing reports, an international coalition of more than a dozen doctors spoke out today to clarify that fish like tilapia are low in total and saturated fat, high in protein and clearly part of a healthy diet.

A report from Wake Forest University in the July issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association about the types of fats in popular seafood has led to reports that bacon, hamburgers, and doughnuts are a better choice than certain fish.

The 16 dietary fats experts, led by Dr. William Harris of the Sanford School of Medicine, write, "Replacing tilapia or catfish with 'bacon, hamburgers or doughnuts' is absolutely not recommended.'"

In explaining the specifics of the omega-3 versus omega-6 debate, the researchers note that omega-6s are not only found in fish like tilapia, but vegetable oils, nuts, whole-wheat bread and chicken. They go on to highlight the fact that the American Heart Association and the American Dietetic Association agree that, "omega-6 fatty acids are, like omega-3s, heart-healthy nutrients which should be part of everyone's diet."

The coalition, including one expert from Wake Forest University, says unequivocally that while they are not rich in omega-3 fatty acids, fish like catfish and tilapia, "should be considered better choices than most other meat alternatives."

"In this letter we see doctors from schools in England, Germany, Korea and Australia teaming up with researchers from US institutions including Sanford School of Medicine, Penn State and Harvard school of Public Health to say wait a minute, what you are reading in the press is misleading," said Jennifer Wilmes, registered dietitian with the National Fisheries Institute. "It's heartening to see careless, sound-bite-science being challenged."


William S. Harris, PhD, FAHA Sr. Scientist and Director Metabolism and Nutrition Research Center Sanford Research/USD Sioux Falls, SD (605) 328-1304

Co-signers: Thomas Barringer, MD, FAHA Medical Director, Center for Cardiovascular Health Carolinas Medical Center Charlotte, NC (704) 446-1823

Philip Calder, PhD Professor of Nutritional Immunology University of Southampton, UK

Marguerite M. Engler, RN, PhD, FAHA Professor Dept. of Physiological Nursing UC San Francisco, CA

Mary B. Engler, PhD, RN, MS, FAHA Professor and Director Cardiovascular and Genomics Graduate Program Dept. of Physiological Nursing UC San Francisco, CA

Bruce Holub, PhD Professor Emeritus Dept of Human Biology and Nutritional Sciences University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada

Peter Howe, PhD Professor and Director Nutritional Physiology Research Centre University of South Australia, Adelaide

Penny Kris-Etherton, PhD, RD, FAHA Distinguished Professor of Nutrition Penn State University University Park, PA (814) 863-2923

Dariush Mozaffarian, MD, DrPH, DSc Assistant Professor Harvard School of Public Health Boston MA 617-432-2887

Joyce A. Nettleton, DSc Editor, PUFA and Fats of Life Newsletters Denver, CO 303-296-9595

Yongsoon Park, PhD Chair and Assistant professor Department of Food and Nutrition Hanyang University Seoul, Korea

Eric Rimm ScD, FAHA Associate Professor Harvard Schools of Medicine and of Public Health Boston MA 617-432-1843

Larry Rudel, PhD, FAHA Professor of Biochemistry Wake Forest University Winston-Salem, NC (336) 716-2821

Frank Sacks, MD, FAHA Professor of Cardiovascular Disease Prevention Harvard School of Public Health Boston, MA (617) 432-1420

Andy Sinclair, PhD Chair in Human Nutrition School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences Deakin University Burwood, Australia

Clemens von Schacky, MD Cardiology Ludwig Maximilians-Universität München Munich, Germany

Views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of, its staff or its advertisers.

Reader Comments

3 people have commented so far. cloud add your comment

I sure would like to e-mail this to my friends. Someone is always telling you what they read and half the people believe it. I enjoy tilapia and I plan on continuing to prepare and serve it.
   comment# 1   - Donna · Portage, MI · Sep 8, 2008 @ 4:32pm

I love is my favorite fish. So glad to finally get the facts on it. What people need to realize someone is always saying something is bad for us. Everything has it's goods and bads....doesn't mean you have to stay totally away from it. Thanks
   comment# 2   - Felisha · St. Martinville.... USA · Mar 3, 2009 @ 7:15am

It is so easy to believe when "well-respected" people, using their credentials in the academe, give us "facts" from studies that obviously have such strong impact on popular consumer products, like tilapia. But before we do, let us be aware that so-called scientific studies are done by humans, and as such, they can never be totally objective and without malice. I'm not saying this study was done with malice towards the tilapia industry. All I want all of us to be aware of is that researchers cannot avoid being held in suspicion as long as their studies are funded by institutions that are known or suspected to be lackeys of big-money industry groups - groups that have the wherewithal to lobby for their interests. The first things we need to ask are, "Who're really funding this study? Do they have an interest against the tilapia industry? Can they be really trusted when they say their only objective is to promote scientific research?" If we can assure ourselves that there is no vested interest involved in this tilapia study - which is possible, to be honest with you - then we will do well to call for and wait for more independent studies to confirm or refute the original one. In the meantime, all lovers of tilapia (like me) should go on consuming this fish but in moderation and without neglecting other healthy food sources.
   comment# 3   - don · Philippines · May 5, 2009 @ 8:00pm
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