Two omega-3 fatty acids, EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), are abundant in oily fish such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, and herring.
Some data have shown that consuming 250 milligrams daily of EPA and DHA—the amount found in a 3-ounce salmon fillet—is associated with reduced risk of heart-disease.
Ms Raatz and Mr Picklo are with the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center in Grand Forks, N.D. ARS is USDA's chief intramural scientific research agency.
While eating seafood rich in omega-3 fatty acids is known to reduce risk of heart disease, it has not been known whether baking causes loss of omega-3s in farm-raised Atlantic salmon.
The team also examined the extent to which baking Atlantic salmon alters healthful fatty acids through oxidation that leaves unhealthy compounds, such as toxic omega-3 oxidation byproducts.
The researchers demonstrated that baking salmon to the proper temperature does not decrease its content of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids. They found that baking actually decreases the presence of fatty acid oxidation byproducts. Preparing the fish based on restaurant and safety guidelines—to a tender-but-safe 145 degrees Fahrenheit rather than overcooking—was a key factor, according to authors.
The research was published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.