Omega-3 can be found in certain foods like fatty fish, seaweed, flaxseeds, and chia seeds. Among fish, salmon, mackerel, and sardines are the top sources of rich foods in omega-3.
Omega-3 fatty acids come in three primary forms: DHA, EPA, and ALA. Fish and seafood are rich in DHA and EPA, whereas plant-based sources are generally packed with ALA. It’s crucial for overall health to include a diverse range of omega-3 foods in your diet.
Overview of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3s are a group of polyunsaturated fatty acids considered one of the types of “good” or “heart-healthy” fats. They get their name from their chemical structure, and are different from Omega-6 fatty acids. Of the three main Omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are found in fish and shellfish, and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) is found primarily in plant-based foods. . Next, we will see a list of foods rich in Omega-3 to help you increase your consumption.
There are three main types of omega-3 fatty acids:
- Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)
- Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
- Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
ALA is found in plant oils, while DHA and EPA are primarily found in fish, krill, and algae. The body can convert ALA into EPA and DHA, but this conversion is quite limited, with a rate of less than 15%. As a result, individuals might need to increase their intake of these sources to ensure an adequate supply of omega-3s. (Source)
Read Also: Health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids
16 Rich Foods in Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Black walnuts are a very good plant source of Omega-3, with 1.7 g of ALA per 50-60 g. Walnuts are also rich in fiber and fat-soluble vitamins.
People can savour walnuts by eating them as a standalone snack, adding them to granola, including them in a trail mix, snack bars, yogurt, salads, or even incorporating them into cooked dishes.
Rapeseed oil, a common frying oil, contains 1.3 g of ALA per tablespoon. (Source)
Catfish is rich in EPA and DHA and contains a total of 0.3 g of Omega-3 per approximately 150 g.
EPA and DHA are commonly found in fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines. Catfish, although not as oily as these fish, still contain notable amounts of these omega-3 fatty acids. Including catfish in your diet can contribute to your overall omega-3 intake, which is beneficial for maintaining good health.
A single tablespoon of chia seeds contains 7g of Omega-3, making these little seeds a superfood that is also rich in protein and high fiber.
They contain 5.055g of ALA per 1-oz serving. (Trusted Source)
You can add these seeds to your meals, like putting them in granola, tossing them into salads, or blending them into smoothies. Another tasty option is mixing them with milk or yogurt to whip up some delicious chia pudding. Additionally, if you ever run out of eggs, mixing chia seeds with water can do the trick as a handy egg substitute.
Edamame, also known as soy beans, is a very good source of vegan protein and also contains 0.3 g of Omega-3 per 75 g. A half-cup of frozen edamame beans contains 0.28 g of ALA.
Boiled or steamed edamame beans make a great addition to salads or can be served as a side dish.
Fish oil, one of the best-known sources of Omega-3, contains 2.9 g of ALA and DHA in a single tablespoon.
Flaxseed is a very nutritious seed, but it is best to grind it so that our body can digest it and absorb its many nutrients. One tablespoon has 1.6 g of Omega-3. Flaxseed oil contains 6.703 g of ALA per tbsp.
Flaxseeds are rich in many nutrients, including:
Similar to chia seeds, you can blend flaxseeds with water to create a vegan egg substitute. You can also easily include them in your diet by adding them on cereal, oatmeal, or salads.
Halibut is a very popular fish that contains 1g of Omega-3 fatty acids per 100g, and is also high in protein.
Hemp seeds are great for adding a crunch to smoothies, porridge or salads, and contain 0.9g of Omega-3 per tablespoon. It contains 2.605 g of ALA in every 3 tablespoons.
They are also rich in many nutrients, including:
Herring is another great marine source of omega-3, with a contribution of 3.1 g of Omega-3 per approximately 150g.
- A 3.5-oz (100-g) serving of herring contains almost 100% of the DV for selenium and 779% of the DV for vitamin B12.
- Omega-3 content: 2,150 mg of EPA and DHA (combined) in 3.5 oz (100 g) (Trusted Source)
Mackerel is another fish rich in good fats, containing approximately 2.6 grams of DHA and EPA per 100 g. Mackerel is a small, fatty fish that people commonly eat smoked.
One serving of mackerel contains:
White beans are another good vegan source of healthy fatty acids, richer in Omega-3 even than red beans, with 0.6 g per 100 g.
A 1-cup (170-gram) serving of cooked white beans provides (Trusted Source):
- Calories: 242
- Protein: 17 grams
- Fat: 0.6 grams
- Carbs: 44 grams
- Fiber: 11 grams
- Copper: 55% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Folate: 36% of the DV
- Iron: 36% of the DV
- Potassium: 21% of the DV
- Thiamine: 17% of the DV
- Phosphorus: 28% of the DV
- Magnesium: 26% of the DV
- Zinc: 22% of the DV
- Calcium: 16% of the DV
- Vitamin B6: 12% of the DV
- Riboflavin: 6% of the DV
- Selenium: 4% of the DV
As you can see, white beans are particularly rich in copper, folate, and iron.
Salmon is one of the best-known sources of good fats, with a contribution of 1.5 g per 100 g, in addition to being a food rich in protein.
One serving of farmed salmon contains:
- 1.24 g of DHA
- 0.59 g of EPA
One serving of wild salmon contains:
- 1.22 g of DHA
- 0.35 g of EPA
It also has substantial amounts of protein, magnesium, potassium, selenium, and B vitamins.
100 g of shrimp contain approximately 0.4 g of Omega-3, which is more than other seafood, and they are also rich in protein.
One serving of shrimp contains:
- 0.12 g of DHA
- 0.12 g of EPA
Soybean oil is another good vegan source of Omega-3 and a good alternative for cooking, containing 0.9g of Omega-3 fatty acids per tbsp.
Soybean oil contains 0.92 g of ALA per tablespoon. It is also a good source of:
- vitamin B2
- vitamin K
In addition to its high protein content, 100 g of tuna contains about 0.7 g of Omega-3.
One serving of canned sardines contains:
- 0.74 g of DHA
- 0.45 g of EPA
8 Benefits of Fish Oil
Fats play many roles in maintaining our health, but healthy fats should predominate in our diet. Although a low-fat diet can help reduce calorie intake, it is necessary to maintain adequate fat levels for the absorption of 4 crucial vitamins: A, D, E and K.
Below, we will discuss some of the benefits of fish oil.
1- May improve cholesterol
Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation has been linked to improving total and HDL cholesterol (or “good” cholesterol), as well as reducing triglycerides and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol.² It has also been linked improving blood cholesterol levels with the prevention of heart disease.²
2- May help reduce high blood pressure
Studies have shown that consumption of omega-3 fatty acids has been linked to slight decreases in blood pressure.² High blood pressure can lead to many heart-related health problems. Improving cholesterol levels and reducing blood pressure help maintain a healthy heart.
3- May help prevent cardiac arrhythmias
Another very important benefit of fish oil is related to heart rate.
Cardiac arrhythmias, or changes in the normal pattern of heartbeats, can be harmful and even fatal. Several studies have shown that fish oils and omega-3 fatty acids can have a strong impact on preventing these problems.²
4- May reduce inflammation
The effect of fish oil on heart health has been so researched that researchers have also discovered a link between fish oil and inflammation.³ One study in particular showed that fish oil helped reduce symptoms of heart disease. inflammation better than flaxseed oil, which is also high in omega-3 fatty acids.³
5- May promote brain development and cognition
Fish oil (specifically DHA) is often included in prenatal supplements as it has been linked to healthy brain development during pregnancy. 4 Other studies have investigated the possible effects of fish oil on brain health and the aging process, but, although the results are relatively inconclusive at the moment, benefits are expected to be found in aspects such as dementia.
6- May contribute to skin health
A recent study has been conducted on the effect of fish oil supplementation in preventing skin damage caused by air pollution. Fish oil promotes the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamin D and vitamin A (both linked to skin health) and, in combination with its anti-inflammatory properties, makes skin health a promising area of study. . 5
7- May support mood and mental health
The Mediterranean diet is known for its healthy oils from fish and other food sources. 6 One study showed improved mood when following the Mediterranean diet, which has led to more studies on fish oil and depression. Although other studies have not shown a direct correlation, there is still hope for the future.
8- May contribute to eye health
Like brain development, eye development in babies has been linked to maternal intake of omega-3 fatty acids. 7 This benefit has not been demonstrated in improving eye health in adulthood. However, our eyes have high concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids and supplementation can maintain their levels.
Fish oil Dosage
The World Health Organization recommends taking between 200-500 mg of fish oil per day in supplement form, but it is important that at least 300 mg comes from DHA.
It is also important to consult the appropriate dosage with your doctor or pharmacist, since fish oil can interact with other medications.
It’s no secret that Omega-3 fatty acids have many health benefits, but sometimes it can be a little difficult to remember which foods contain the highest amounts. If you want to increase your intake through your diet, increase your consumption of fish and some foods of plant origin such as beans. But, even if you eat a healthy and balanced diet, there are those who prefer to take an Omega-3 supplement to ensure they consume it in adequate amounts.