Kwik'pak touts Yukon salmon's omega-3 levels


SeafoodSource staff

Published on
March 11, 2009

Oil-rich Yukon river king and keta (chum) salmon have "shockingly high" levels of nutritious omega-3 fatty acids, according to results of recent laboratory tests.
"We've known our salmon have the highest oil content because of the length of the Yukon River," said Jack Schultheis, general manager of Kwik'pak Fisheries in Emmonak, a village at the Yukon Delta in northwest Alaska. The fish are known to store extra fat for their long migration up the 2,000-mile river.
"But we have only just recently had them tested for omega-3s," said Schultheis. "Everyone we have shown the results to is astonished."
Recent tests by Bodycote Testing Group of Portland, Ore., measured an average of 4.15 percent omega-3s for chums and 4.38 percent for kings. These levels are twice, and in many cases three or four times, the levels of any other fish in the U.S. Department of Agriculture database, according to Kwik'pak.
When Seattle nutritionist and registered dietician Dr. Evette Hackman, R.D., reviewed the results for Kwik'pak Fisheries, the omega-3 levels were so high she contacted the lab to make sure there hadn't been a mistake.
"I was shocked," said Dr. Hackman. "We don't usually think of chum salmon as being a good source of omega-3s but when you look at the red color and cook and taste this fish, it is no surprise. It's wonderful when something so good for you can be so delicious."
Dr. Hackman shared the test results with Dr. Joyce Nettleton, nutrition consultant to the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, who wrote, "I was quite surprised by the very high total fat and omega-3 values in these fish. These are astonishingly high values."
Omega-3 fatty acids, which come from fish oils, are known to have numerous significant health benefits, including aiding the cognitive development of infants, reducing the risk of cancer and congestive heart failure, and improving overall health.
"One 3 1/2-ounce serving of Yukon River chum or king salmon per week would equal, from an omega-3 standpoint, three servings of other salmon," said Dr. Hackman. "But omega-3 factors are only part of the story. I would rather see people eat more fish, not less. The nutrient composition is good and people do not usually fry salmon.  It tends to be grilled or baked and that leads to less unhealthy fats. There are many other reasons to eat more fish."
Kwik'pak Fisheries will be exhibiting at the International Boston Seafood Show from 15 to 17 March at booth No. 1755. Attendees can taste the Yukon salmon andmeet some of the Yup'ik fishermen and women who harvest them.
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