US consumers recognize there are more health benefits associated with eating fish and seafood compared to taking fish oil supplements, according to a recent Cargill Animal Nutrition survey.
Consumers understand that the health benefits of fish outweigh that of fish oil supplements, despite their popularity.
While 33% of US households take fish oil supplements, 90% of consumers across all generations associate health benefits with fish/seafood over fish oil supplements (82%).
According to the study, the top three benefits consumers associate with seafood consumption are heart health (60%), low fat (49%) and brain health (41%).
Recent research shows consumer perception to be correct: eating whole fish is more nutritious than consuming a fish oil supplement.
Studies show that adding fish oil alone to the diet does not necessarily improve cardiovascular disease risk or cognitive health, two of the health benefits most cited by consumers in the survey published in Tufts University Health and Nutrition Letter in 2012.
Fish provides healthy oils that are absorbed around nine times more than oils from a fish oil supplement, according to Progress in Lipid Research in 2012.
Researchers recommend consumers follow the American Heart Association guidelines and incorporate a variety of oily fish into their diet at least twice a week to get the recommended amount of Omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D.
Results of the survey are also in line with industry data that suggests the demand for fish is growing, driven by an increasing and more affluent global population that understands the health benefits of eating seafood, according to Bloomberg in 2015.
Seafood demand is expected to increase by 70% by 2050, and it’s a demand Cargill and the industry are working to satisfy.
“Fish is clearly an important source of healthy protein and it’s encouraging that consumers know the real benefits of eating seafood,” said Einar Wathne, president of Cargill Aqua Nutrition.
“We are anticipating that further advances in aquaculture nutrition will ensure that fish and seafood are going to play a significant role in satisfying the world’s protein needs and in providing health and nutrition benefits to a growing population in the years ahead.”