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Omega-3 fatty acids are a healthy and essential type of fat and offer many health benefits.
Fatty fish is an excellent food source of omega-3s. People can also achieve recommended omega-3 intake by consuming plant-based foods, including omega-3-rich vegetables, nuts, and seeds.
There are three main types of omega-3 fatty acids known as ALA, DHA, and EPA.
Plant sources like nuts and seeds are rich in ALA, while fish, algae, and algae can provide DHA and EPA fatty acids. It is important to eat a variety of sources of omega-3s.
In this article, we list the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids, including omega-3 supplements.
Fatty, oily fish is an excellent source of DHA and EPA, two important types of omega-3 fatty acids.
The following types of fish are some of the best sources of these fatty acids. For each fish below, the serving size is 3 ounces (ounces):
Mackerel is a small, fatty fish that people often eat smoked, often for breakfast.
One serving of mackerel contains:
- 0.59 g DHA
- 0.43 g EPA
In addition to omega-3 fatty acids, mackerel is rich in selenium and vitamin B-12.
Salmon is one of the most popular and nutritious types of fish. There are several differences between wild and farmed salmon, including some differences in omega-3 levels.
One serving of farmed salmon contains:
- 1.24 g DHA
- 0.59 g EPA
One serving of wild salmon contains:
- 1.22 g DHA
- 0.35 g EPA
Salmon is also high in protein, magnesium, potassium, selenium and B vitamins.
Find out more about the differences between wild and farmed salmon here.
3. Sea bass
Sea bass is a popular Japanese fish.
One serving of sea bass contains:
- 0.47 g DHA
- 0.18 g EPA
Sea bass also provides protein and selenium.
Oysters are popular shellfish that are more likely to serve as a starter or snack in restaurants. Unlike many other seafood, oysters contain all three major classes of omega-3 fatty acids.
One serving of oysters contains:
- 0.14 g ALA
- 0.23 g DHA
- 0.30 g EPA
Oysters are also rich in zinc and vitamin B-12.
Sardines are small, oily fish that can be bought in cans and eaten as a snack or appetizer.
A serving of canned sardines contains:
- 0.74 g DHA
- 0.45 g EPA
Sardines are also a good source of selenium and vitamins B-12 and D.
People around the world eat shrimp both as a starter and as part of many meals.
One serving of prawns contains:
- 0.12 g DHA
- 0.12 g EPA
Shrimp are also high in protein and potassium.
Rainbow trout are one of the most popular and healthiest types of fish.
One serving of trout contains:
- 0.44 g DHA
- 0.40 g EPA
In addition to omega-3 fatty acids, trout is a good source of protein, potassium and vitamin D.
8. Seaweed and seaweed
Seaweed, nori, spirulina, and chlorella are all different forms of seaweed that many people eat for health reasons.
Seaweed and algae are important sources of omega-3 for people on a vegetarian or vegan diet, as they are one of the few plant groups that contain DHA and EPA.
The DHA and EPA content varies depending on the type of algae and the product.
There are many ways to include these foods in your diet. For example:
- Nori is the seaweed that most people wrap around sushi.
- Seaweed is a delicious, crunchy snack.
- Chlorella and spirulina are healthy additions to smoothies or oatmeal.
Seaweed is also high in protein and can have antidiabetic, antioxidant, and antihypertensive properties.
People can find chlorella and spirulina at health food stores or online. Shop here for Chlorella and Spirulina.
9. Chia seeds
Chia seeds are an excellent herbal source of ALA omega-3 fatty acids. They’re also high in fiber and protein.
Chia seeds contain 5.055 g of ALA per 1-ounce serving.
People can use these seeds as an ingredient in cereal, salads, or smoothies, or mix them with milk or yogurt to make chia pudding. Mixing chia seeds with water also creates an egg substitute that vegans can use.
Many health food stores now stock chia seeds, and it is possible to purchase them as well on-line.
10. Hemp seeds
Hemp seeds contain 2.605 g of ALA per 3 tablespoons (tablespoons).
They’re also high in many nutrients, including:
Research suggests that hemp seeds are good for a person’s heart, digestion, and skin.
Hemp seeds are slightly sweet and make an excellent addition to muesli, oats, snack bars, salads and smoothies.
Hemp seeds can be bought on-line.
Flax seeds contain 6.703 g of ALA per tablespoon.
Flax seeds are one of the healthiest seeds people can eat. They are rich in many nutrients, including:
These seeds can reduce Blood pressure and improve heart health.
As with chia seeds, people can mix flax seeds with water to make a vegan egg substitute. It’s also easy to include in the diet by adding them to oatmeal, granola, or salad.
Flax seeds can be bought on-line.
Walnuts contain 3.346 g of ALA per cup.
These nuts are a great source of healthy fats, including ALA omega-3s.
People can enjoy walnuts alone, in granola or in a mix, snack bar, yogurt, salad or cooked dish.
Half a cup of frozen edamame beans contains 0.28 g of ALA.
Edamame beans are unripe soybeans that are particularly popular in Japan. Not only are they high in omega-3 fatty acids, but they’re also a great source of vegetable protein.
Cooked or steamed edamame beans are good for a salad or as a side dish.
14. Kidney beans
Kidney beans contain 0.10 g of ALA per half cup.
Kidney beans are one of the most common types of beans found in meals or as a side dish. People can add them to curries or stews, or eat them with rice.
15. Soybean oil
Soybean oil contains 0.923 g of ALA per tablespoon.
Soybeans are popular legumes from Asia. Many people use soybean oil in cooking.
The oil is also a good source of:
- Folic acid
- Vitamin K.
People usually serve soybeans as part of a meal or in a salad. Soybean oil is good as an edible oil and in salad dressings.
People who are unable to meet their omega-3 nutritional needs and who are severely inflamed can benefit from taking omega-3 supplements.
There are several types of omega-3 supplements to choose from, including:
- Fish oil: Fish oil is the most common omega-3 supplement and offers the highest dose available. Fish oil supplements include both DHA and EPA.
- Cod liver oil: Cod liver oil is not only rich in DHA and EPA omega-3 fatty acids, but also in vitamins A and D.
- Krill oil: Krill oil is another seafood oil that is high in DHA and EPA.
- Algae oil: For people on a vegetarian or vegan diet, algae oils are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. However, they contain a lower dose than most fish oil supplements, so people may need to take more of them. There are also fewer brands and they can be more expensive. Some brands only contain DHA, but a brand with DHA and EPA is more beneficial.
- ALA supplements: Flaxseed, chia seed and hemp seed additives only contain the vegetable omega-3-ALA, which is not enough on its own. The seeds also contain omega-6 fatty acids, which can be flammable. This means that these supplements do not contribute to a healthy balance of omega-3 and omega-6 in the body. While ALA supplements are not a substitute for fish or seaweed oil, they can be an excellent additional supplement to include in the diet.
The amount of omega-3 in each of these supplements depends on the type of supplement and the specific brand.
Certain herbal supplements, such as some algae and ALA supplements, contain gelatin and are not suitable for vegetarians and vegans. Always read the label carefully.
Omega-3 fatty acids are an important part of the diet as they can minimize inflammation and keep the body healthy.
People should keep in mind that the balance of omega-3 and omega-6 in the body plays a role in preventing inflammation. In addition to increasing omega-3 intake, people should limit their consumption of foods high in omega-6.
Foods that are typically high in omega-6 fatty acids include processed foods, tofu, nuts, seeds, and meat.
A variety of fish, vegetarian, and vegan sources can help people increase their omega-3 intake, and omega-3 supplements are also available.
It is important to include all three main types of omega-3 in your diet and to keep the ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 in balance. People who want to avoid seafood sources can meet their needs with plant sources and algae additives.
Before changing diet or using any nutritional supplements, patients should speak with a doctor and a registered dietitian to ensure that they are all meeting their nutritional and health needs.