Fish and Human Health by William E M Lands


Although it was published in 1986, the meticulously written Fish and Human Health is still highly relevant today (William E M Lands published an updated version in 2005 entitled Fish, Omega 3 and Human Health, for which we will provide a review in due course). The author is a pioneer in omega 3 research and is today regarded as one of the foremost authorities in the field.

Subject Matter

The book is primarily concerned with the impact that fish oil has on health via the mechanism of eicosanoid synthesis. Eicosanoids are made on demand by the body from the 20-carbon PUFAs, including the n-3 fatty acid EPA, which is abundant in fish oil. EPA is widely accepted to have an anti-inflammatory effect that balances the inflammatory effect of some of the n-6 derived eicosanoids. A theme given some prominence is the link between disease and the diets of specific cultures, such as the low incidence of immune-inflammatory disorders in Eskimo populations.


The author was not aware of chia and sacha inchi when discussing the wider question of "Overall Supply of n-3 Fatty Acids" in chapter 18. He had the foresight, however, to acknowledge that such ALA-rich seed oils probably existed while discussing the merits of Perilla, which had the highest ALA content that he had encountered at that time.

Data Highlights

Some tables are included in chapter 18 that give the PUFA content of fish and fish oils, with the data taken from pre-USDA sources.


This book should be considered essential reading for anyone interested in human nutrition.


This book is a beautifully conceived and executed work of scientific literature. It is extremely thoughtful and well balanced in its presentation of scientific facts and addresses a number of important themes that relate to the important issue of optimum n-3 to n-n-6 balance.

Learn more about which fish can help to promote human health
Read reviews on other books about the role of essential fatty acids in nutrition