Home' Australian Pharmacist : Australian Pharmacist October 2012 Contents 824 Australian Pharmacist October 2012 I ©Pharmaceutical Society of Australia Ltd.
A potluck of herbs II: the feast
By Bob Longmore
Associate Professor Bob Longmore is a
pharmacist and consultant on herbal matters.
He lectures in pharmacognosy and holds
an honorary position of Adjunct Associate
Professor at Curtin University of Technology, WA.
I trust the initial courses of entrée and savoury were to your liking?
(Australian Pharmacist Aug 2012, page 663) Our next courses of sh, mains
and sweets will provide an interesting medley of dishes suitable for all tastes.
To a major extent, this o ering re ects my 'food as medicine' interests, and is a
subject of concern in our strivings towards good health from diet.
'I think sh is nice but then I think rain is wet
so who am I to judge?' (Douglas Adams)
There's something shy about this course
but it's not sh, it's the omega-3 fatty
acids (O3FA), such as alpha-linolenic acid
(ALA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and
eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) occurring
in omega-3 oils (O3O). Let me state here
that I love my recreational shing, but am
very concerned about sustainability of sh
stocks, over- shing, super-trawlers and
the whole gamut of use of ocean stocks.
We are generally advised to consume two
or three portions of sh per week, but is
that su cient to ful l our O3FA needs, are
the sh the required 'oily sh' and what
would be the e ect on our current sh
stocks of our 22.7 million population each
consuming that amount of sh per week?
When I saw the expanding advertising and
marketing of krill oil as an O3O supplement,
I became more than a little suspicious of
what was happening out there in our wild
oceans. There is little doubt that krill, that
little 5 cm crustacean, constituting one of
the world's largest biomasses, is critical to
the survival of whales, seals, sh and many
other creatures of the Southern Ocean.
Yet now the gates have been opened to
harvesting of what could be quite a fragile
resource. Man's greed and ever-increasing
population does suggest a massive nite
risk to krill stocks and indeed, a number
of countries have already banned krill
harvesting or severely limited the activity.
The United States, the United Kingdom,
Australia and South Africa and others
have formed the Commission for the
Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living
Resources (CCAMLR) to manage n- sh
and krill sheries in the Southern Ocean.
Krill conservation is of fundamental
There is an increasingly important edible
herbal alternative to ocean-derived sh
and krill supplements and that is the
seed of chia, Salvia hispanica. A native
of the Central Americas of Mexico and
Guatemala, it is a plant of the Aztec
culture, going back to more than 3,500
BC. It was nearly lost during the Spanish
Conquistador oppressions of the Central
American indigenous societies, but
thankfully survived in some outback areas.
Black and white chia are now signi cant
crops in the Kimberly Ord River Stage 2
project, and it has been suggested that
Australia may eventually become the
biggest chia growing area of the world,
ahead of Argentina, Mexico, Peru and
Bolivia.2 Chia yields an oil-rich seed at 30.4%
w/w, with 26.4% w/w polyunsaturates
and 19.3% w/w O3FA, especially ALA.
In addition, it contains some 20.4%
protein, 0.5% calcium, 0.0064 % iron and
My limited experience with chia has
been in consuming a local supermarket
multigrain bread loaf, forti ed with chia
and quinoa, a South American Andean
seed. I was not over-enthralled with the
texture or taste, but have put that down to
a need for further product development by
Chia certainly provides a non-animal,
non- shy (both in smell and taste),
sustainable alternative to sh (or krill),
and is now in this potluck, perhaps as an
addition to our green vegetable stir fry
or as a lemon/lime- avoured, sweetened
chia fresca non-alcoholic drink. O3Os,
whether from animal or plant sources,
have acknowledged health bene ts, and
also occur in linseed, walnuts, soya beans,
purslane and wheat germ, particularly
as sources of ALA. The related omega-6
oils (O6O), rich in the essential linoleic
acid, are required but not necessarily to
the same extent, are linked to a lowering
of blood cholesterol, but may actually
promote in ammation and may generally
be too high in the typical Western diet.7
Probably the best source of O6O is
sun ower seed which also supplies a useful
amount of vitamin E, but there is a need to
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