When it comes to a highly sustainable source of omega-3, look no further than menhaden fish oil. This Atlantic fish is a certified eco-friendly catch that packs more omega-3 and healthy fats than salmon, and its nutritious plankton-rich diet makes it a healthy, toxin-free solution to getting your daily dose of fatty acids. Menhaden is also one of the world’s richest sources of DPA, a fatty compound of omega-3 that’s known for its serious anti-inflammatory, heart health, and brain-boosting benefits.
In this article, you will learn:
What is a Menhaden Fish?
Menhaden are small fish that are one of the richest marine sources of omega-3. Also called mossbunker and bunker fish, these foragers are found in the Atlantic Ocean, the Chesapeake Bay, and on the Gulf Coast. Menhaden rarely grow larger than fifteen inches in length and can be recognized by their silver scales and oily flesh.
If you’re wondering why you’ve never heard of this nutrient-dense fish, that’s because they’re largely unknown due to the tiny bones that make them extremely difficult to eat.
But even if you’re new to menhaden fish, that doesn’t mean they don’t play a major role in the food chain. These little fish are commonly consumed by larger Atlantic saltwater fish like bass, mackerel, cod, and tuna, and they’re even used in the feed for chickens, pigs, and cattle. More recently, menhaden fish have become a potent source of high-quality, toxin-free fish oil for human consumption!
Menhaden have even been called “the most important fish in the sea" because of the important role they play in the marine ecosystem. These highly-oily, nutritious fish consume Pfiesteria, a type of phytoplankton that’s harmful to the ocean. Pfiesteria are the main cause of the overgrowth of algal blooms that cover the surface of the ocean which block sunlight from reaching the ocean waters, causing dead zones that are detrimental to marine life. In other words, a healthy menhaden population ensures that life under the sea is able to flourish.
Is Menhaden Fish Oil Good for You?
Here’s what makes menhaden fish oil the healthier choice:
Menhaden Fish Oil is Toxin-free
Not only are menhaden fish a highly-sustainable and environmentally-friendly source of omega-3 fatty acids, but they’re also among the cleanest.
Fish at the top of the food chain, like salmon and tuna, typically contain the highest levels of mercury and other harmful toxins because their diet is comprised of large amounts of smaller, toxin-containing fish. Additionally, fish at the top of the food chain tend to have longer life spans, so this toxic build-up accumulates over time.
Menhaden fish, on the other hand, are at the bottom of the food chain. Not only does their diet consist of phytoplankton, which contain low to no toxins, but they have shorter life spans so they don't have the opportunity to build up toxins the way larger fish do.
Because many popular fish oils on the market are sourced from top-of-the-food-chain fish like salmon, they run the risk of containing high amounts of dangerous toxins, metals, and environmental pollutants like polychlorinated biphenyl (PCBs) and dioxins. In fact, in a study of 75 popular omega-3 fish oil supplements, it was found that over 20% didn’t meet the most basic purity standards for contaminants like mercury and dioxins.
On the other hand, tests consistently show that menhaden fish oil contains less than .1 parts per million of heavy metals like arsenic, cadmium, mercury, and lead.
Menhaden Fish Oil is Rich in DPA Omega-3 Fatty Acid
Unlike other fish that are high in omega-3, menhaden oil is one of the most abundant sources of docosapentaenoic acid, also known as DPA. Recent studies have proven that DPA is one of the most beneficial types of omega-3 fatty acids for both mental and physical health.
- Mental health: Regular consumption of DPA improves long-term memory retention, and even contains neuroprotective properties that improve mental health issues like depression and schizophrenia.
- Physical health: Low DPA levels are a precursor to serious health conditions like cardiovascular disease. A healthy concentration of DPA in the blood has been linked to improved wellbeing and the prevention of age-related health conditions.
Additionally, DPA has been shown to absorb 22% better than the more well-known omega-3s, EPA and DHA, meaning you get more brain-boosting and anti-inflammatory benefits for your buck!
(For more on the impressive benefits of DPA-rich fish oil, check out this article)Learn more!
Menhaden Fish Oil Benefits
Menhaden fish oil doesn’t just come with typical fish oil benefits like strengthening bones and improving concentration. In addition to being good for you, menhaden fish oil is also good for the planet!
Sustainable and Eco-friendly
In its adult age, female menhaden can produce up to 362,000 eggs per year, making it an incredibly sustainable fish. In comparison, a female adult salmon, one of the most popular sources of omega-3 today, can only produce up to 5,000 eggs a year.
In recent years, the menhaden population has flourished so much that they’ve officially been recognized as a sustainable fish for fishing by Friend of the Sea, an international seafood sustainability certification program.
Like most fish oils, menhaden fish oil is a safe, over-the-counter solution to many health concerns, including eye health, bone and joint strength, overall skin health, cholesterol levels, blood pressure, allergies, asthma, and memory improvement (especially in preventing mental decline).
With its long list of benefits, it’s no wonder why fish oil is one of the most popular natural supplements in the United States. In fact, a 2017 study found that 17.7% of the adult population (approximately 20 million people) have taken this incredibly versatile supplement at some point.
Here are some of the most common benefits of taking menhaden fish oil:
The polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) found in fish oils have been proven to decrease the body’s production of inflammatory compounds like eicosanoids and cytokines. As a result, fish oil can reduce chronic inflammation and potentially improve inflammation-related health issues like diabetes and obesity.
Omega-3 rich fish oil also contains a metabolite called resolvin D1, a highly potent antioxidant that’s responsible for its anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effects.
Your brain is a fatty organ, composed of 60% fat, so it makes sense why it needs fatty essential acids like omega-3 to stay in optimal shape. Regular consumption of omega-3 rich fish oil has been proven to improve concentration, reduce symptoms of attention deficit (ADD), and prevent mental deterioration from age or Alzheimer’s.
Increases Heart Health
Fish oil is an effective supplement to improve overall heart health. Consuming it daily can improve levels of healthy HDL cholesterol, lower triglycerides by up to 30%, reduce blood pressure, and reduce the risk of heart disease.
Just when you thought fish oil couldn't get better, menhaden fish oil has raised the bar. For a fish oil that not only comes with a long list of health benefits, but is also a non-toxic, eco-friendly and sustainable solution to getting your daily dose of omega-3 fatty acids, menhaden fish oil is the gold standard!
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