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Fatty acid content and potential health benefits of consuming gilthead sea bream ( Sparus aurata ) and sea bass ( Dicentrarchus labrax )


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The fatty acid composition of wild sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax L.) and gilthead sea bream (Sparus auratus L.) were compared with gas chromatography. These two species are widely cultivated in Europe and represent a significant portion of consumed fish in the region. The aim of the present work was to compare the nutritional value of fatty acids in the flesh of wild sea bass and sea bream. Significant differences were observed in the saturated and poly-unsaturated fatty acid content. The presence of lauric, myristic and palmitic acids in the flesh of sea bream in quantities far exceeding those in sea bass make sea bream less suitable for preventing cardiovascular diseases. The poly-unsaturated n-3 fatty acids with both anti-atherogenetic and anti-inflammatory action in sea bass surpass those of sea bream by a total of 30%. Sea bass also contains 60% more C22:6n-3. Compared to sea bream, sea bass appears to be more suitable for the diet of people suffering from cardiac diseases, angiopathy, inflammations and Alzheimer's disease.
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Acta Alimentaria, Vol. 40 (1), pp. 45–51 (2011)
DOI: 10.1556/AAlim.40.2011.1.7
aDepartment of Ichthyology and Fisheries,
Technological Educational Institute of Epirus, 46100 Igoumenitsa. Greece
bDepartment of Nursing, School of Health Social Welfare,
Technological Educational Institute of Epirus, 45500 Ioannina. Greece
c Laboratory Of Ichthyology and Aquatic Animal Health, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine,
School of Health Sciences, University of Thessaly, Greece 43100, Karditsa. Greece
(Received: 15 July 2009; accepted: 2 July 2010)
The fatty acid composition of wild sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax, L.) and gilthead sea bream (Sparus auratus, L.)
were compared with gas chromatography. These two species are widely cultivated in Europe and represent a
signi cant portion of consumed sh in the region. The aim of the present work was to compare the nutritional value
of fatty acids in the esh of wild sea bass and sea bream. Signi cant differences were observed in the saturated and
poly-unsaturated fatty acid content. The presence of lauric, myristic and palmitic acids in the esh of sea bream in
quantities far exceeding those in sea bass make sea bream less suitable for preventing cardiovascular diseases. The
poly-unsaturated n-3 fatty acids with both anti-atherogenetic and anti-in ammatory action in sea bass surpass those
of sea bream by a total of 30%. Sea bass also contains 60% more C22:6n-3. Compared to sea bream, sea bass appears
to be more suitable for the diet of people suffering from cardiac diseases, angiopathy, in ammations and Alzheimer’s
Keywords: seafood, sh, nutritional value, Dicentrarchus labrax, cardiovascular
The nutritional value of sh is attributed not only to amino-acids, trace elements, and vitamins
it contains, but also, and most importantly, to the quantity and quality of fatty acids (SARGENT
1997; BUCHTOVA et al., 2008; 2009). For example, increased consumption of food with high
ratio of n-6/n-3 fatty acids leads to thrombosis and in ammatory reactions in the tissue
(SARGENT et al., 1999), while high contents of n-3/n-6 have, among other bene cial effects for
the prevention of cardiovascular diseases, antithrombotic and anti-in ammatory effects
(KELI et al., 1994; KRIS-ETHERTON et al., 2003; DIN et al., 2004). The balance between n-3
and n-6 is also important for homeostasis and the normal development of the body (KRIS-
ETHERTON et al., 2000; SARGENT, 1997), while also in uences receptor’s function and the
activity of many membrane-bound enzymes (JUMPSEN & CLANDININ, 1995). The best n-3/n-6
ratio has not been exactly determined for superior mammals. The ratio of 1:5 (n-3/n-6) is
today considered to be near ideal universally, though for sh this relation can be smaller
(SARGENT et al., 1999). More speci cally, arachidonic acid (AA) which is an omega-6 essential
fatty acid, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) which both are
omega-3 fatty acids, are considered essential for the structure and operation of cell membranes
(SARGENT et al., 1993; 1995; SARGENT, 1997). The thrombotic PAF (Platelet Activating Factor)
* To whom correspondence should be addressed.
Phone: 2665049882; fax: 2665049886; e-mail:
Acta Alimentaria 40, 2011
role of lipids have been ascribed mainly to polar lipids, while the antithrombotic anti-PAF
are ascribed to neutral lipids and more speci cally to minor lipid compounds (vitamin
E, carotenoids, phytosterols, etc.) (NOMIKOS et al., 2006; NASOPOULOU et al., 2007) which are
found predominantly in wild marine sh (including sea bass, sea bream, etc.).
Omega-3 dietary intake has several health bene ts (MANCARDI et al., 2009) and can
limit arteriosclerosis in vivo when combined with PAF competitors (MAYER et al., 2002).
The content in lipids and minor lipid compounds in the esh of wild sh depends on their
feeding habits in the natural environment they live. This content also characterises their
nutritional value. Seafood and mainly sh are the most important natural foods that supply
the human organism with n-3 fatty acids and minor lipid compounds. Healthy food
consumption patterns should be encouraged in the general population with special attention
to particular risk groups including pregnant women and the elderly (ELMADFA & MEYER,
The aim of this study was to rate the nutritional value of fatty acids in the edible esh of
two wild sh that are consumed widely in Europe (PIENIAK et al., 2009), the sea bass
(Dicentrarchus labrax) and the gilthead sea bream (Sparus aurata). This information is
crucial for nutritionists and for the food industry. These two sh species are consumed fresh
and on several occasions are sold lleted. The sh by-products generated by the lleting can
be used by the food and the pharmaceutical industry for extracting EPA and DHA (OLIVEIRA
et al., 2009).
1. Materials and methods
1.1. Biological material
We examined wild European sea bass and gilthead sea bream specimens, all randomly
selected, originating from the delta of River Kalamas in the coastal area of the Ionian Sea
(Prefecture of Thesprotia, western Greece). The ages of the sh were 2+ to 3+.
Initially, one hundred wild sh (forty four sea bass and fty six sea bream) were collected
alive in May 2008 using shing nets. The captured sh were anaesthetized in a solution of
150 mg l–1 clove oil (PERDIKARIS et al., 2010) and those of commercial size were killed in an
ice cold bath and immediately transported to the lab in ice. Subsequently, the sh were
cleaned with fresh water. Body weight and total length were measured to the closest mg and
mm, respectively, before they were scaled, skinned, de-headed, eviscerated and lleted. All
body parts of each sh were weighted, marked, vacuum packed in plastic bags and stored in
–30 oC before the next stage of the study.
1.2. Age determination of the specimens
The ages of the sh were determined in the Department of Ichthyology and Fisheries of
the Technological Educational Institute of Epirus, based on the annual rings of the alcohol-
infused otoliths (PANELLA, 1971). For this reason, an inverted stereoscope with 50 ×
magni cation was used and the age was determined twice independently. Differential
determination of age led to the exclusion of the respective sh from the sample. In the same
manner, sh with less clear rings were also excluded. As a result from the hundred sh
examined, only thirty sea bass end forty sea bream were found to be between 2+ and 3+ age
Acta Alimentaria 40, 2011
1.3. Determination of total lipids and fatty acids
Flesh samples were defrosted and chopped. Subsequently the edible parts of each sh were
homogenized in a mechanical homogenizer with metallic blades at low temperature (ice bath)
for one minute. Finally, twenty grams were used from the homogenate. The homogenized
brains (in pairs from each group of sh) were defrosted before the analysis. Lipid extraction
was performed by the BLIGH and DYER (1959) method as modi ed by KINSELLA and co-
workers (1977), using chloroform and methanol in a 2:1 ratio. Subsequently, fatty acids were
methyl-esteri ed with a 12% boron tri uoride methanol solution (BF3-MeOH) (FOLCH et al.,
1957). Methyl-esters were obtained with normal hexane (METCALFE et al., 1966). The analysis
was performed using gas chromatography (Model GC-17A; Shimadzu, Kyoto, Japan) with a
capillary column and an ionised ame detector (TRACETM TR-FAME GC Column, Thermo
Fisher Scienti c Inc.) as well as an automatic sampler (HT 310A, HTA). Pure helium of 82
KPa ow, air of 50 KPa ow and hydrogen of 60 KPa ow were used for the analysis under
the following conditions: the initial temperature was 150 oC for 5 min, followed by a 5 oC
min–1 increase to 170 oC for 10 min and then another 5 oC min–1 increase to until 220 oC for 20
min. The identi cation of fatty acids (methyl-esters) was performed by comparing the
impressed peaks in special PC programme with Qalmix Fish (89-5550) and Methyl
Dodecanoate (20-1200) standard fatty acids (Larodan Fine Chemicals AB).
1.4. Statistical analysis
Statistical analysis (mean values, standard deviation and proportions) was performed using
Excel 2003 (Microsoft). T-tests were applied after variability comparison by F tests.
2. Results and discussion
The total lipids in the 100 grams of sh esh were found to be 1.55±0.35 in sea bass and
3.80±0.31 in sea breams.
With the aid of gas chromatography we identi ed 30–45 fatty acids in the esh of both
categories of sh, from which only 18 were identi ed based on standard fatty acids
(Table 1).
The saturated fatty acids were found to be 26.06% in sea bass and 27.46% in sea bream
with the predominant fatty acid in both cases being C16:0, followed by C18:0 and C14:0.
Mono-unsaturated fatty acids were identi ed (at 37.83% and 37.42% respectively) with
C18:1 being prevalent in both cases, followed by C22:1 and C16:1.
The poly-unsaturated fatty acids (Fig. 1) found were 28.57% in sea bass compared to
22.82% in sea bream, with the dominant fatty acid in both cases being C22:6n-3 and followed
in sea bass by C18:2n-6 and C20:4n-6, while in sea bream by C22:50n-3, C20:4n-6 and
The n-3 and n-6, as well as the ratio n-3/n-6 were higher in sea bass. C20:5n-3 (EPA)
was not detected in sea bass, while in sea bream it was detected in small quantities, which
indicates that in this early stage of the shes’ development the EPA is probably converted
very rapidly into C22:6n-3 for the needs of the cell membranes.
The main difference observed in the qualitative and quantitative constitution of the
edible esh of the sh examined was in saturated and poly-unsaturated fatty acids. So the
presence of lauric (C12:0), myristic (C14:0) and palmitic (C16:0) acids in the esh of sea
Acta Alimentaria 40, 2011
bream and their higher quantities compared to those of sea bass makes the esh of gilthead
sea bream more harmful, both in terms of quality and quantity, for the health of consumers
and especially those suffering from cardiovascular diseases. These saturated fatty acids are
associated with hypercholesterolaemia and atherogenesis (KATHLEEN & ESCOTT, 2000).
The muscle content of gilthead sea bream is about twofold higher that sea bass.
Consequently, consumption of a serving of 100 g from the gilthead sea bream provides the
consumer double quantities of the less “desirable” dietary fatty acids C12:0, C14:0, and
C16:0, compared to sea bass. Furthermore, compared to gilthead sea bream, sea bass exhibits
increased content of PUFA n-3 fatty acids with well known anti-atherogenetic and anti-
Table 1. Fatty acid pro les of total lipids in the esh of wild sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax) and gilthead sea
bream (Sparus aurata) (% of total fatty acids)a
Fatty acid Sea bass
Sea bream
C12:0 0.00±0.00 0.19±0.02 ***
C14:0 2.34±0.11 2.28±0.04 NS
C15:0 0.64±0.03 0.39±0.03 ***
C16:0 17.69±0.40 18.89±0.17 ***
C18:0 5.40±0.62 5.70±0.07 NS
Total saturated 26.06±1.14 27.46±0.32 **
C16:1 n-7 (9C) 5.72±0.28 6.23±0.07 ***
C18:1 n-9 (9C) 20.01±1.94 17.55±0.27 **
C18:1 n-7 (11C) 4.55±0.47 3.98±0.07 **
C20:1 n-9 (11C) 0.00±0.00 1.06±0.04 ***
C22:1 n-9 (13C) 7.55±0.36 8.60±0.29 ***
Total monounsaturated 37.83±2.97 37.42±0.59 NS
C18:2 n-6 4.42±0.29 2.63±0.04 ***
C18:3 n-3 1.53±0.03 1.18±0.10 ***
C18:4 n-3 0.62±0.02 1.01±0.07 ***
C20:4 n-6 3.63±0.23 3.42±0.07 *
C20:5 n-3 0.00±0.00 0.27±0.04 ***
C22:4 n-6 0.00±0.00 0.94±0.09 ***
C22:5 n-3 2.96±0.13 3.87±0.05 ***
C22:6 n-3 15.41±0.63 9.52±0.06 ***
Total polyunsaturated 28.57±1.05 22.82±0.51 ***
Others 7.5 12.30
Total n-3 fatty acids 20.52±0.54 15.83±0.31 ***
Total n-6 fatty acids 8.05±0.51 6.99±0.20 ***
Ratio n-3/n-6 2.55±0.10 2.27±0.03 ***
Ratio EPA/DHA 0.0±0.0 0.03±0.00 ***
aMean ±SD; N: Number of samplings; NS: Non signi cant
*P< 0.05, **P<0.01, ***P<0.001
Acta Alimentaria 40, 2011
in ammatory effects such as decreasing concentration and oxidation of lipids and platelets,
deterrence of arrhythmias (BRAWN & HU, 2001), the suspension of the effects of synthetases
for the production of thromboxane (A2) (ABEYWARDENA et al., 1991) are in higher concentration
in sea bass compared to sea bream by a total of 30%, with the desirable levels for those with
a heart condition (score) >7.2 g/daily (SIMON et al., 1995) and average intake 0.45 g/daily
(VAN GELDER et al., 2007). The C22:6n-3 fatty acid was more abundant in sea bass (60%
compared to gilthead sea bream). This fatty acid is known to decrease VCAM-l in the vasal
endothelium and the adherence of leukocytes (HOLVOET, 1999; HU et al., 2001), in addition,
this fatty acid competes with linoleic acid in the arachidonic acid pathway, and reduces the
metabolism of AA to prostaglandin E2 and thromboxane A2, which are implicated in the
process of in ammation. Furthermore, C22:6n-3 fatty acid decreases LR11 in the brain, a
protein that promotes Alzheimer’s disease (AD), (MA et al. 2007), and prevents the production
and concentration of b-amiloide (LIM et al., 2005). The n-3/n-6 ratio was also higher and thus
more bene cial (RUSSO, 2009) in sea bass lets. The combination of sea bass with other plant
foods rich in C18: 2 fatty acids (vegetables, cereals) in the human diet offers a better and
healthier n-3/n-6 ratio, compared to the n3/n6 ratio of gilthead sea bream. Wild sea bass thus
appears more suitable than sea bream for the nutritional requirements of people suffering
from cardiopathy, angiopathy, in ammations and Alzheimer’s disease.
3. Conclusions
The results of the present work indicate that compared to gilthead sea bream, the fatty acid
composition of sea bass exhibits signi cantly higher concentration of fatty acids with well
known health bene ts. On the contrary the fatty acid composition of sea bream is characterised
by a high content of saturated fatty acids such as lauric (C12:0), myristic (C14:0) and palmitic
(C16:0) acid, which are associated with hypercholesterolaemia and atherogenesis. In the
Fig. 1. Percentage composition of polyunsaturated fatty acids composition of wild sh sea bass and sea bream.
: sea bass; : sea bream
Acta Alimentaria 40, 2011
same manner, the n-3/n-6 ratio of sea bass and gilthead sea bream, indicates that compared to
sea bream, sea bass is more appropriate for the diet of people suffering from cardiac diseases,
angiopathies, in ammations and Alzheimer’s disease.
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... Increased consumption of food with high n-6 PUFAs content increases n-6/n-3 ratio, which leads to thrombosis and inflammatory reactions. Opposite, high n-3/n-6 ratio has cardio protective, antithrombotic and anti-inflammatory properties (Lenas et al., 2011). ...
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Nutrition in Europe is characterised by a positive energy balance, excessive fat and sugar intakes, while consumption of complex carbohydrate sources like bread and potatoes as well as of fruit and vegetables is too low. Together with insufficient physical activity, unhealthy nutrition is considered as the major determinant for the high prevalence of overweight, obesity and related diseases. In addition, current nutrition is often deficient in certain essential micronutrients like folic acid, for instance. Food fortification may help improve the supply, although a diet rich in fruit, vegetables, whole grain cereal and with a moderate fat content is the better option. Fortunately, health awareness of consumers is increasing and this is also mirrored in the popularity of functional food, having beneficial effects on health and wellbeing. While these may contribute to a healthy nutrition, they can only be part of a broad food choice. The requirements of vulnerable population groups are another matter of concern. This is particularly true for the increasing number of elderly that are prone to malnutrition but difficult to reach by new nutrition trends. In conclusion, healthy food choices should be encouraged and special attention be paid to particular risk groups like pregnant women and elderly.
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The aim of the study was to determine the amino acid composition in fillet proteins of newly bred mirror carp lines. In the experiments, the Hungarian mirror carp (M2) were used at the maternal position. These were crossed with male carp of other breeds (top crossing). They included the Hungarian mirror carp (M2) for the production of a pure line, the Hungarian mirror line (L15), the Israeli breed (DOR70) and the Northern mirror carp (M72). The scaly hybrid of the Ropsha (ROP) and the Tataj (TAT) carp was used as a control. In view of the genetic specification of the carp groups monitored, numerous differences (P  0.01 and P  0.05) in the composition of specific amino acids (EAA: Val, Leu, Lys, Arg, Met NEAA: Asp, Glu, Tyr) and their total amounts (EAAsum, NEAAsum) were found between the scaly control (ROP × TAT) and the pure line M2. Higher amino acid values were found in control hybrids. Compositions of amino acids in fillet muscle tissue of experimental mirror carp (M2 × L15, M2 × DOR70) were practically identical. Compared to the controls (ROP × TAT), these carp groups contained less (P  0.01) Leu, Lys, Arg and Glu. A composition of amino acids statistically comparable with the controls (ROP × TAT) was found only in the M2 × M72 hybrid with the exception of Glu, which was found in smaller quantities in this hybrid (P  0.01). In terms of sex differences, the greatest amounts of amino acids were found in fillets of male ROP × TAT controls, the amino acid compositions in male and female mirror carp were practically the same. In this type of evaluation, i.e. regarding amino acid composition, the only carp comparable with the ROP × TAT control is the M2 × M72 hybrid. Fish meat, carp, amino acid, chemical indicator, quality
The early-stage annual rings in otoliths from some cold-temperate fish consist of thin growth bands, the number of which corresponds to that of the days in a year. This indicates that growth takes place by daily increments. Other recurrent patterns show a fortnightly and monthly periodicity. Spawning rings are microscopically distinguishable from winter rings.
Lipid decomposition studies in frozen fish have led to the development of a simple and rapid method for the extraction and purification of lipids from biological materials. The entire procedure can be carried out in approximately 10 minutes; it is efficient, reproducible, and free from deleterious manipulations. The wet tissue is homogenized with a mixture of chloroform and methanol in such proportions that a miscible system is formed with the water in the tissue. Dilution with chloroform and water separates the homogenate into two layers, the chloroform layer containing all the lipids and the methanolic layer containing all the non-lipids. A purified lipid extract is obtained merely by isolating the chloroform layer. The method has been applied to fish muscle and may easily be adapted to use with other tissues.
The early-stage annual rings in otoliths from some cold-temperate fish consist of thin growth bands, the number of which corresponds to that of the days in a year. This indicates that growth takes place by daily increments. Other recurrent patterns show a fortnightly and monthly periodicity. Spawning rings are microscopically distinguishable from winter rings.
Since the first AHA Science Advisory “Fish Consumption, Fish Oil, Lipids, and Coronary Heart Disease,”1 important new findings, including evidence from randomized controlled trials (RCTs), have been reported about the beneficial effects of omega-3 (or n-3) fatty acids on cardiovascular disease (CVD) in patients with preexisting CVD as well as in healthy individuals.2 New information about how omega-3 fatty acids affect cardiac function (including antiarrhythmic effects), hemodynamics (cardiac mechanics), and arterial endothelial function have helped clarify potential mechanisms of action. The present Statement will address distinctions between plant-derived (α-linolenic acid, C18:3n-3) and marine-derived (eicosapentaenoic acid, C20:5n-3 [EPA] and docosahexaenoic acid, C22:6n-3 [DHA]) omega-3 fatty acids. (Unless otherwise noted, the term omega-3 fatty acids will refer to the latter.) Evidence from epidemiological studies and RCTs will be reviewed, and recommendations reflecting the current state of knowledge will be made with regard to both fish consumption and omega-3 fatty acid (plant- and marine-derived) supplementation. This will be done in the context of recent guidance issued by the US Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) about the presence of environmental contaminants in certain species of fish. ### Coronary Heart Disease As reviewed by Stone,1 three prospective epidemiological studies within populations reported that men who ate at least some fish weekly had a lower coronary heart disease (CHD) mortality rate than that of men who ate none.3–6⇓⇓⇓ More recent evidence that fish consumption favorably affects CHD mortality, especially nonsudden death from myocardial infarction (MI), has been reported in a 30-year follow-up of the Chicago Western Electric Study.7 Men who consumed 35 g or more of fish daily compared with those who consumed none had a relative risk of death from CHD of 0.62 and a relative risk of nonsudden death from MI of 0.33. In an …