1. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. Green vegetables are full of ALA, the parent omega-3, and all fruits and vegetables contain antioxidants that protect fats against oxidation. To bulk up on Omega-3s, you should eat the vegetables you enjoy – and lots of them.
2. Avoid oils in which omega-6s greatly outnumber omega-3s, namely safflower, sunflower, corn, cottonseed, peanut, and soybean oils. Instead, use more canola, olive, walnut, and flaxseed oil – even butter, especially grass-fed butter which is now widely available.
3. Eat a wide variety of fish. Include lean fish such as cod, halibut, and trout in your diet as well as fatty fish such as salmon and mackerel. Because all fish live in water and require more flexibility (or looseness) in their membranes than land animals, all fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. (Though farmed fish have less if they are given a diet of grains.) Eating a wide diversity of fish should help prevent the over fishing of certain species and protect us against toxins that accumulate in certain fish.
4. Eat free-range or omega-3 enriched eggs. Most grocery stores carry these – look for the words omega-3s or DHA on the carton and choose brands that come as close to 300mg omega-3/egg (or 100mg DHA/egg) as your pocketbook will allow. These eggs, laid by chickens that have been fed a diet rich in flaxseed and/or fish meal, algae and other greens, provide one of the easiest ways of adding omega-3s to Western diets. They’re easy to produce and less expensive than many other foods high in omega-3s. If the chickens are fed something other than fish meal, they’re also free of the contaminants that can be found in fish. By the way, all eggs used to be omega-3 enriched eggs when the chickens that laid them foraged for a living, scratching and pecking in backyards and farms for greens and bugs.
5. Eat grass-fed or free-range chicken, lamb, beef, bison, and pork whenever you can. Just as all our eggs used to be omega-3 enriched, so were all our meats and milk products -- when our animals were free range and ate more grass and other greens than they did grains. You can find grass-fed meats in some grocery stores and many farmers’ markets – or by searching online.
6. Try to include a source of omega-3s (and not too many omega-6s) at every meal. Metabolism is happening all the time -- not just when we remember to eat our fish or greens. The omega-3s can come from fish, greens, omega-3 enriched eggs, as well as cereals containing flaxseed. Other convenient sources of omega-3s are Smart Balance’s omega-3 peanut butter, soy and other beans, and some nuts: walnuts, especially. Baked goods (such as Susie’s Smart Breakfast Cookies) can be a great source of omega-3s, especially if they contain liberal amounts of walnuts, flaxseed meal, use omega-3-enriched eggs, and have replaced some of the butter with canola oil. Although omega-3s can be taken in pill form (see below), like most nutrients, they are better absorbed from foods than pills.
7. Avoid hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils. This step is important not only because of the reduced omega-3 content of these oils but also because of their concentration of trans fats. Trans fats compete with omega-3s for positions in cell membranes, and they may have adverse effects of their own. Avoiding these oils is fairly easy to do with foods bought in a grocery store, since producers are required to list them as ingredients on food labels. In restaurants, choose foods that are freshly prepared and take a pass on those that are packaged or fried.
8. Take special precautions if you are pregnant or a woman of reproductive age. Follow the guidelines of the FDA and local agencies on fish consumption and look for fish that have tested negative for mercury and PCBs. Most importantly, supplement your diet with other sources of omega-3s and keep your intake of omega-6s at healthy levels. The benefits will be enormous, not only for your baby, but for yourself, since low maternal concentrations of DHA have been linked to an increased risk of postpartum depression. Omega-3 fatty acids have also been found to protect against preterm delivery and low birth weight. After giving birth, breast feed your baby if at all possible since no infant formula on the market matches the breast milk of a well-nourished mother.
9. Use supplements carefully. If you do take omega-3 supplements, avoid those that supply all the essential fatty acids, omega-3s and omega-6s. Omega-6s are essential, but we already have too many of them in our foods. So avoid supplements (and foods) with phrases such as high omega, complete omegas, complete EFA, ultimate omegas, or omega balance in their names as they will undoubtedly include oils rich in omega-6s. If you take fish oil, look for products that are of pharmaceutical grade or molecularly distilled, thus ensuring that they will be free of toxins. Also, take fish oil rather than cod liver oil, as the latter contains significant amounts of vitamin A and can be harmful in excess. Keep your fish and flax oil in a cool, dark place and throw out any that smells bad. If it smells bad, it is bad. Taking oxidized oil is worse than taking no oil at all.
10. Maintain a healthy weight by getting the exercise and calories you need. Excess calories and weight put a strain on the entire body, including its ability to transport and store fats.
Finally, don’t go overboard with this or any diet. You need omega-6s in your diet, just not in the great quantities that most of us are currently getting. Balance is the key to this and every other aspect of life. By taking these ten easy steps, you can be sure you will be changing the balance of fats in your tissues -- and confident that health benefits will follow. Omega-3s have been displaced by the large amounts of omega-6s in our diet. These ten, simple steps will put those speedy fats back where they belong.
Omega-3 fatty acids are fats that naturally occur in many types of plants and fish. They are an important component of cell membranes, and they support growth, vision, and immune function.
Their wide range of possible health benefits also includes promoting heart health, lowering cancer risk, and reducing inflammation.
The three main types of omega-3s that are important for your health are:
Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA): mostly found in plant foods.
Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA): mostly found in fish.
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA): mostly found in fish.
ALA is a long-chain fatty acid, and EPA and DHA are very-long-chain fatty acids. Experts consider EPA and DHA to be the most important omega-3s for health.
Omega-3 supplements that contain all three are also available. There are also products made from algae that have EPA and DHA that are suitable for vegetarians and vegans.
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Read on to discover the top sources of omega-3s.
12 best omega-3 sources
The omega-3 ALA — which is mostly found in plant foods — is an essential fatty acid, meaning your body can’t make it. This means that food is the only way to get it.
Your body can convert ALA into the two other main omega-3 types, EPA and DHA, but only in small amounts. So, eating foods with EPA and DHA is the best way to get these important fatty acids, which are often found in fatty fish.
Here is our list of the best sources of omega-3s, divided into animal and plant sources.
Animal sources of omega-3 Most animal-sourced omega-3s are DHA and EPA, and they most often occur in cold-water fatty fish, like anchovies, trout, and salmon. Omega-3s can also be added to other animal products, such as yogurt or milk, and very small amounts are present in grass-fed beef.
These small fish have some of the highest concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids, providing 1.2 grams in a 2-ounce serving. They are also a good source of lean protein and many vitamins and minerals, including calcium, selenium, and folate.
Anchovies are widely available and are sold fresh, canned, jarred in oil, smoked, or in a paste. Add anchovies to salad, pasta, pizza, or a sandwich for a rich flavor boost, but be mindful that many anchovy products can have a high salt content.
Herring is another great source of omega-3s, with over 1.7 g in a 3-oz serving. They are very similar to sardines in look and flavor, and both are great for your health, but herring pack a bigger punch when it comes to omega-3s.
Grocery stores often sell them fresh, canned, or smoked, and they are highly versatile with a wide range of ways to prepare them.
Mackerel is a medium-sized saltwater fish with about 1 g of omega-3s in a 3-oz serving. Unlike its larger cousin, the king mackerel, Atlantic mackerel has a relatively low mercury content, which is important for pregnant women and young children.
It is also rich in protein and important vitamins and minerals, such as B6, B12, and magnesium.
Mackerel is most often bought fresh and holds up well to baking, grilling, steaming, or pan searing.
4. Rainbow trout
Rainbow trout is another great option for getting omega-3s. This semi-fatty freshwater fish provides 0.85 g of omega-3s per 3-oz serving and is an excellent source of lean protein and vitamins D, B6, and B12.
Milder in flavor than most fatty fish, rainbow trout is a good option if you aren’t a fan of that “fishy” flavor commonly associated with other options like salmon or anchovies. Baking or pan-searing are easy cooking options for this semi-fatty fish.
A 6-oz serving of wild-caught salmon has over 1.7 g of omega-3s. It also contains other beneficial compounds, such as B vitamins and potassium. Wild salmon is often found fresh, canned, or smoked, and it blends well with various flavors and dishes.
It’s important to note that while wild salmon and farmed salmon are both high in omega-3s, farmed salmon may not be the best option for your health. Farmed salmon often receive high levels of antibiotics, and evidence suggests that this could play a part in antimicrobial resistance. Instead, choose wild-caught salmon whenever possible.
Oysters are one of the few animal sources of ALA in addition to EPA and DHA. With roughly 0.6 g of omega-3s per 3-oz serving, these shellfish are an excellent option for anyone looking to boost their intake.
Oysters are also a good source of vitamins and minerals like zinc, copper, and vitamin B12.
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You can steam, smoke, bake, or fry oysters, and they pair nicely with simple ingredients like lemon and fresh herbs. To reduce your risk of food-borne illness, experts recommend you eat your oysters cooked.
But if you choose to eat them raw, make sure you purchase them from a reputable supplier and toss out any that don’t look, smell, or taste quite right.
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Plant sources of omega-3 Plants and plant oils, such as canola oil, flaxseed oil, and chia seeds, are the best sources of the essential fatty acid, ALA. Experts recommend that women should aim for 1.1 g and men 1.6 g of ALA per day. Many of the plants and plant oils listed below easily meet or exceed this recommendation in just one serving. Here are some of the best plant sources of omega-3s.
7. Flaxseed oil
Sometimes called linseed oil, flaxseed oil is a yellowish, nutty-flavored oil that is pressed from the seeds of the flax plant. Containing a whopping 7.3 g of ALA in just 1 tablespoon, it can easily help you get enough omega-3s in your day.
Flaxseed oil has a relatively low smoke point, meaning it will burn and turn bitter when exposed to high heat. For the best flavor, eat it without applying heat. Flaxseed oil is a good option for making salad dressing, tossing over cooked pasta, or adding to soups or stews at the end of cooking.
8. Chia seeds
Thanks to their nutritional value, chia seeds have grown in popularity. These tiny seeds provide 5 g of ALA per 1-oz serving, making them an omega-3 powerhouse. They are also good sources of protein, calcium, and fiber.
Fiber is an essential part of a healthy diet because it helps nourish your gut microbiome. ZOE’s research has shown that foods high in fiber help support your “good” microbes.
Walnuts are another option for boosting your omega-3 intake — they provide 2.6 g of ALA per 1-oz serving. Walnuts are also loaded with other health-benefiting nutrients, including a range of vitamins and minerals, protein, and fiber.
Try adding walnuts to oatmeal, salads, pesto, pasta, or anything that could use a delicious, nutty crunch. Like most nuts, a small handful of walnuts is all you need to get a nutritional boost to your day.
Since flaxseed oil is so rich in omega-3s, it’s no surprise that the seeds the oil comes from would also be a good option. Flaxseed has 2.4 g of ALA per 1 tablespoon, along with protein, fiber, magnesium, and iron.
You can eat flaxseed whole, but ground flaxseed is more common in the kitchen. Add ground flaxseed to smoothies, batters, doughs, or cooked oatmeal for an extra nutritional boost.
11. Canola oil
Canola oil, or rapeseed oil as it is called in the U.K., is a mild, clear-to-yellow oil. In 1 tablespoon, it has 1.3 g of ALA, making it a great option to help you meet your daily recommended levels.
Canola oil is a culinary workhorse for many cooks. Light in flavor and easy to find, canola oil is used in a wide variety of cuisines. It also has a relatively high smoke point, meaning it can stand up to high-heat cooking techniques like searing or sauteing.
12. Soybean oil
Taken from the seeds of the soybean plant, soybean oil is a neutral-tasting oil with 0.9 g of ALA per tablespoon. Even though it is rich in omega-3, experts debate whether soybean oil is a healthy choice.
Widely used by restaurants and in many prepackaged foods, soybean oil is the most consumed oil in America, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Why are omega-3s important?
Omega-3s play many important roles throughout your body. ALA is an essential fatty acid, meaning that your body can’t make it, so you need to take it in through your diet.
Some of the possible health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids include:
Scientists have established that eating foods with omega-3s is good for your health. Although it's best to get your nutrients from whole foods, for some people, this might be a challenge and they may want to take omega-3 supplements as a helping hand.
Experts recommend that nonpregnant adult women get 1.1 g and adult men get 1.6 g of ALA per day. There are no official recommendations for EPA or DHA.
However, in the U.S., the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend eating 8 oz of fish or shellfish per week. In the U.K., the National Health Service recommend eating at least 2 portions of fish, including 1 portion of oily fish per week.
Omega-3 fatty acids are a subgroup of healthy fats that provide various benefits to your overall health.
There are three main types of omega-3s: ALA, DHA, and EPA. ALA can be found in many plants and plant oils, whereas EPA and DHA are most often found in fatty fish, such as salmon or trout.
At ZOE, we know that a diverse, healthy, and balanced diet is the best way to support your overall health. Our at-home test can help you learn which foods are best for you and your unique biology.
Take a free quiz to see how ZOE can help you achieve your health goals.
Foods rich in omega-3 are very important for every living person. Omega-3 foods provide nutrition for good health, energy, and focus to help us become more productive. These foods go well with daily meals or can also be used as the main ingredient. Fish, seafood, nuts, and plant oil are a few foods people need to eat to get omega-3.
Here are the 15 best foods that are rich in omega-3 that you should add to your diet.
In many restaurants, shrimp plays a major role in delicacies. It’s delicious, very nutritious, and easy to cook. Shrimps contain antioxidants to help boost immunity and fight infections. They also contain omega-3, which is very helpful in fighting heart conditions.
However, you also have to be careful. Shrimp also contains plenty of cholesterols that affect blood flow. So, make sure you eat them in moderation.
Fans of white fish will love eating mackerel because of the tremendous amount of omega-3 it contains. For every four ounces of the fish, there is about 2,700 mg of omega-3. Mackerels are very affordable and have been a healthy food source for centuries.
There are several recipes online you can copy to create awesome meals for you and the family. People with mental disorders will also benefit a lot from omega-3 as eating mackerels help reduce the symptoms of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
3. Chia Seeds
Vegans love chia seeds because they contain omega-3, making them good for heart health. Also, they’re quite easy to make. Unlike flaxseed, you don’t need to grind them. You can eat them raw, make them into pudding, add them to a smoothie, or include them in your baking. Some people also like to sprinkle them on vegetables and yogurt.
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Eating chia seeds may also aid in weight loss, especially when combined with exercise. The omega-3 content can also help improve eye health. People with eye problems have a low amount of omega-3 in their bodies. That’s why eating these seeds is good for reversing problems with eyesight.
4. Kidney Beans
You can also get omega-3 from eating kidney beans. Even though it’s in low concentration, it still provides you with some of that useful nutrient. Along with omega-3, kidney beans supply protein, fiber, antioxidants, and plant compounds. It also promotes colon health, aid weight loss, and moderates sugar levels. You can add kidney beans to hot or cold salads, side dishes, pasta, and soup.
Oily fish is one of the foods richest in omega-3, so they are high in demand. Salmon is very important and is regarded as one of the most nutritious foods on the planet. They contain omega 3, vitamin B-6, cobalamin, magnesium, protein, and saturated fats.
People experience inefficiency in personal life because of a low amount of omega-3. Eating salmon can help boost energy and increase productivity because of its abundance of omega-3. Wild salmon contains 3,428 mg of omega-3 in 198 grams, the second-highest in the world. There are several recipes online for adding salmons to food. Children will benefit a lot from eating salmons because it also helps develop brain cells.
6. Flaxseed Oil
People who are looking to increase their heart health turn to flaxseed. It’s one of the foods rich in omega-3 and is good for cooking. Consuming flaxseed oil help reduce cancer cell growth and treats constipation and diarrhea.
The omega-3 content also helps improve skin health and reduce inflammation. Eating flaxseed oil raw is the best thing to do. You can also add it to salad dressing or sauces or use it in low-heat cooking.
7. Brussels Sprout
For those who love vegetables, brussels sprout is one of the best foods rich in omega-3. Cooked Brussels sprout contains 135 mg of omega-3 per 78 grams. Apart from omega-3, the vegetable also offers fiber, vitamin K, and antioxidants.
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Adding the vegetable to a meal is very easy. It’s simple to prepare and cook, and there are several recipes online you can copy. Brussel sprouts are also very delicious, and they provide many health benefits.
Eating walnut is one of the healthiest things anyone can do. All you need to do is soak them in water overnight and munch them in the morning. People also like adding them to cereals for the flavor and taste.
There are benefits of eating walnuts, including decreased inflammation and promoting gut health. But their high omega-3 content remains the best reason for eating them. Walnuts also lower blood pressure and help you improve in physical activities. You can find walnuts in stores or buy them online fresh.
It’s no surprise that avocado is on the list of best foods rich in omega-3. Even though it contains low amounts, it’s still one of the best to consume. Avocado has a superfood status because it contains a large amount of healthy fats and oils. It’s delicious, easy to cook, and can be eaten raw or added to other meals. They contain more potassium than bananas, are good for the heart, and help lower cholesterol.
Most people who eat avocado regularly tend to be healthier than those who don’t. There are several recipes for making delicious avocado for consumption. Guacamole is one of the most popular, which has become a part of international cuisine.
10. Red Lentils
Protein, iron, and potassium are the main reasons people eat red lentils. Also, the edible legume is one of the best foods that are rich in omega-3. Eating red lentils is also good for the skin, helping you have that fabulous glow. It also supplies magnesium, which aids the flow of blood and oxygen around the body.
You can also get folate from red lentils. These nutrients all work to improve blood vessels and promote a good heart. You can cook it, eat it alone, or add it to salads and vegetables.
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11. Mustard Seed
Eating mustard seed or mustard oil is good for health in many ways. It’s one of the foods in the world that provides healthy oil goods for consumption. Mustard seed contains not just omega-3 but also omega-6 and other saturated fat content. It also promotes energy and vitality. Are you feeling tired and unable to do what you want? You can improve your productivity by chewing on some mustard seeds.
It also supports heart health, reduces inflammation, and treats colds. There are several ways to eat it. You can add to salads, sprinkled inside warm meals, or added to milk. The best way to consume mustard seed is by making it into a mustard paste. Then, it can go into salad dressing and other things.
Eating leafy green plants is good for the health because of their nutrients. They also give energy and reduce oxidative stress. Spinach contains plant compounds like lutein, which is good for eye health. It also contains nitrates, which help to protect the heart and boost energy. You will get vitamin A, K1, C, and folic acid from it as well.
Spinach is one of the best sources of omega-3 for people who love leafy vegetables. 100 grams of spinach has 370 milligrams of omega-3. Eating spinach energizes the body and helps promote an active and healthy lifestyle. The garlic sautéed spinach is a delicacy that is well-known and appreciated around the world.
13. Navy Beans
People eat navy beans because of fiber, thiamine, magnesium, manganese, and folate. It also contains some amount of omega-3. If you love beans, then navy beans are an excellent way to get omega-3 into your system. The omega-3 in navy beans helps regulate sugar blood levels to prevent or manage diabetes.
It also improves digestion, promotes blood circulation, and repairs damaged tissue. Navy beans soup is a delicacy that many people enjoy. You can eat the beans with bread for breakfast. The folate in navy beans provides energy, which keeps you active all day.
People pay thousands of dollars to have a taste of caviar. The food comes from the roe of wild sturgeon in the Caspian Sea and the Black Sea. It’s one of the most expensive foods rich in omega-3. So, when you’re paying that high amount, you know you’re getting something worthy.
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There are several types of caviar distinguished by color and other factors. Beluga caviar is about the most expensive, which costs about $8,000 per kg. Caviar also has vitamin B12, A, E, B6, selenium, and magnesium.
For every three ounces of sardines, you get two grams of omega-3. Sardines have been a favorite food for centuries due to their healthy oil content that promotes heart health and also because they are very delicious.
They also contain vitamin D and calcium, which improves heart health. They are mostly served in cans, but some consume them grilled or smoked. There are several ways to eat sardines, including adding them to salads. Some people eat them straight out of the can, while others add pepper, salt, and garlic before consuming them.
You can also add sardines to pasta to enrich the flavor and taste. Sardines are tasty and will help protect your heart and reduce inflammation.
Omega-3 is a nutrient that promotes good heart health, boosts immunity, and fights inflammation. You can live a healthy life by consuming foods that are rich in omega-3, along with a well-balanced diet and physical activity. This list of the 15 best omega-3 foods will help you add a variety to your meal plan while still staying healthy.
More Healthy Omega-3 Foods You Should Try
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