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Fish Allergies and Omega-3s: A disappointment of the past…

Posted Mar 19 2010 6:58am


In some cultures, seafood is a must, regardless of any restrictions of any religious or health issues (such as poisoning) that might crop up. One sub-culture that comes to mind is the race of Bengalis from the state of West Bengal (in India) and Bangladesh (a neighboring country) that are a part of the Indian subcontinent.

In my experience, the Brahmins from this culture will not touch meat but treat fish (even though it is a meat) like a vegetable. And not a day goes by without fish for lunch or dinner… yes, even if it is contaminated. As weird as this sounds, it's actually true. It's unthinkable to not have a four-course meal without seafood (which includes fish).

With experts recommending that people should eat fish at least two to three times a week as it is high in omega-3 fatty acids that reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease while also increasing the lifespan of an individual.

However, some folks have allergies to fish and shellfish as well, so somehow they tend to miss out on this important nutrient that helps you maintain a diet that is well-balanced.

Fish Allergies

Apart from documented allergies to the 'big eight', the primary reason why people have an allergic reaction to seafood is because they are sensitive to proteins that are available abundantly in fish. Normally, this allergic reaction manifests itself in adulthood, and the sensitivity will, unfortunately, remain for life.

Another reason for the allergy lies in the reaction to fish parasites due to the contamination of fish. Strangely, one will feel the allergy on one night while not experiencing any discomfort on another, making it hard for one to pin down the source of this allergy. However, this type of allergy is very rare.

The common cure (if you can call it that) is to stop eating fish for life, which means one will have to forgo omega-3 fatty acids from his diet unless other sources are found.

Other Omega-3 fatty acid sources

The reasons why omega-3 fatty acids are considered an excellent nutrient for heart health is because it decrease the amount of triglycerides, increases good cholesterol (HDL) while also preventing irregular heartbeats and blood clot formation as well.

So, here are some foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids for those with an allergy to fish:

1) Seeds such as flaxseed, hempseed, pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds

2) Oils derived from seeds such as flaxseed oil, hempseed oil, canola oil, wheat germ oil and soybean oil as well as seal oil and shark liver oil

3) Green leafy veggies such as spinach, purslane, mustard greens, collards, broccoli and kale

4) Nuts like walnuts, almonds, pine nuts, Pecan nuts, Hazelnuts, Brazil nuts and butternuts

5) Soy and Tofu

6) Eggs produced by chicken that are fed greens and insects, not corn and soybeans.

7) Meat like beef, chicken and lamb

8) Commercial products that are fortified with omega-3 fatty acids such as milk, cheese,  yoghurt, mayonnaise, bread, orange juice, children's pasta, pizza, infant formula and confections.


With a variety of products such as these, there's no doubt that getting your daily recommended source of omega-3 fatty acids won't be a problem. So as this might be a welcome reprieve for those with fish allergies, one wonders how Bengalis would manage!

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