Vegetarian salmon health benefits ‘fishy’

Norwegian farmed salmon contains less than half of the Omega-3 it did a decade ago as manufacturers say they are forced to put fish on a vegetarian diet to keep up with consumer demand. According to an inquiry by news agency NRK, the 70 percent vegetable diet – which is cheaper and more accessible than the usual fish-based feed given to farmed salmon – is massively reducing the health benefits of one of Norway’s biggest exports.

According to scientists, Norwegian salmon farmers using such methods are turning their fish into “virtual swimming vegetables”.

Speaking to NRK, Professor Harald Arnesen from the Ulleval University Hospital said, “The weekly need for Omega-3 fatty acids might not be covered with today’s farmed salmon, even with two salmon dinners a week.”

Consumer inspectors at NRK sent both wild and farmed salmon from five different manufacturers for Omega-3 content analysis. They found that the farmed salmon contained less than half of the essential fat due to changes to the fish feed that have been introduced over the last 10 years.

Head of the Leroy Seafood Group, Dr Philos Harold Sveier, however said salmon is still a healthy meal. “The raw vegetable materials are cheaper and more accessible than the marine food. This means that the final product contains less of the marine Omega-3 fatty acids. Yet, farmed salmon is a good Omega-3 source,” he said.

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