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Which foods contain high levels of omega-3?

Plant-based foods are the best sources of ALA while deep sea animals are rich in EPA and DHA. Use the HealthWatch 360 iPhone app or GB Diet and Nutrition Evaluator to find out if you are eating right.
get more out of your top foods

Plant-derived (ALA)
Flaxseed oil is a high omega-3 food.

Flaxseed oiladd to food log

Per 100 g (g) 52.1
Per Serving (g) 7.3
Serving Size 1 tbsp (14 g)
Plant-derived (ALA)
Flaxseeds are a high omega-3 food.

Flaxseeds, groundadd to food log

Per 100 g (g) 22.9
Per Serving (g) 1.6
Serving Size 1 tbsp (7 g)
Plant-derived (ALA)
Walnut oil is a high omega-3 food.

Walnut oiladd to food log

Per 100 g (g) 10
Per Serving (g) 1.4
Serving Size 1 tbsp (14 g)
Plant-derived (ALA)
Canola oil is a high omega-3 food.

Canola oiladd to food log

Per 100 g (g) 9.3
Per Serving (g) 1.3
Serving Size 1 tbsp (14 g)
Plant-derived (ALA)
English walnuts are a high omega-3 food.

Walnuts, Englishadd to food log

Per 100 g (g) 9.3
Per Serving (g) 2.6
Serving Size ¼ cup (1 oz)
Plant-derived (ALA)
Soybean oil is a high omega-3 food.

Soybean oiladd to food log

Per 100 g (g) 6.4
Per Serving (g) 0.9
Serving Size 1 tbsp (14 g)
Plant-derived (ALA)
Mustard oil is a high omega-3 food.

Mustard oiladd to food log

Per 100 g (g) 5.7
Per Serving (g) 0.8
Serving Size 1 tbsp (14 g)
Plant-derived (ALA)
Black walnuts are a high omega-3 food.

Walnuts, blackadd to food log

Per 100 g (g) 2.1
Per Serving (g) 0.6
Serving Size ¼ cup (1 oz)
Plant-derived (ALA)
Tofu is a high omega-3 food.

Tofu, firmadd to food log

Per 100 g (g) 0.6
Per Serving (g) 0.7
Serving Size ½ cup (126 g)
Fish and Seafood (EPA+DHA)
Sablefish is a high omega-3 food.

Fish, sablefishadd to food log

Per 100 g (g) 2.1
Per Serving (g) 1.8
Serving Size 3 oz (85 g)
Fish and Seafood (EPA+DHA)
Herring is a high omega-3 food.

Fish, herringadd to food log

Per 100 g (g) 2.1
Per Serving (g) 1.8
Serving Size 3 oz (85 g)
Fish and Seafood (EPA+DHA)
Salmon is a high omega-3 food.

Fish, salmonadd to food log

Per 100 g (g) 1.7
Per Serving (g) 1.5
Serving Size 3 oz (85 g)
Fish and Seafood (EPA+DHA)
Sardines are a high omega-3 food.

Fish, sardinesadd to food log

Per 100 g (g) 1.4
Per Serving (g) 0.8
Serving Size 1 can (56.7 g)
Fish and Seafood (EPA+DHA)
Oysters are a high omega-3 food.

Seafood, oysters add to food log

Per 100 g (g) 1.4
Per Serving (g) 1.2
Serving Size 3 oz (85 g)
Fish and Seafood (EPA+DHA)
Trout is a high omega-3 food.

Fish, troutadd to food log

Per 100 g (g) 1.0
Per Serving (g) 0.8
Serving Size 3 oz (85 g)

[Read More]

What is omega-3?

Omega-3 fatty acids are a group of essential fatty acids that are required but not synthesized by the human body. There are three major omega-3 fatty acids in the human diet: ALA, EPA, and DHA. ALA is abundant in certain plant oils while EPA and DHA are abundant in fish oil, but can also be synthesized from ALA by the human body (Table 1).

Omega-3 refers to the polyunsaturated fatty acids that contain a double bond at the third carbon atom from the methyl end. Polyunsaturated fatty acids have two or more double bonds between carbon atoms on the carbon chain.

Omega-6 fatty acids are the opposite of omega-3 fatty acids and contain a double bond at the sixth carbon atom from the methyl end. While omega-3 fatty acids are anti-cardiovascular disease, anti-inflammation, and are generally under-supplied to the human body, omega-6 fatty acids are pro-cardiovascular disease, pro-inflammation, and over-abundant in modern western diets. More detailed information about the effects of omega-3 versus omega-6 fatty acids is available here.

Table 1.The most common omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and their dietary sources

Types Abbreviation Common Name Structure Dietary Sources
Omega-3 ALA α-Linolenic acid C18 : 3 Oils: flaxseed, olive, canola
EPA Eicosapentaenoic acid C20 : 5 Fish oil, marine algae
DHA Docosahexaenoic acid C22 : 6 Fish oil, marine algae
Omega-6 LA Linoleic acid C18 : 2 Oils: corn, soybean,
sunflower, peanut
AA Arachidonic acid C20 : 4 Peanut oil. Small amount in meat,
dairy products and eggs

How is omega-3 used in the human body?

Omega-3 fatty acids are the precursors of many signaling molecules, regulators of gene expression, and make up structural components of the cell membrane. The two long chain omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, are also required in high levels in the brain and retina to support optimal neuronal functions.

How much omega-3 do I need in my diet?

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends an omega-3 intake of 1.1 gram of ALA for females and 1.6 gram for males. This is equivalent to about 1 to 2 tablespoons of canola oil, or about 3 to 4 oz of salmon.

How can vegans get EPA and DHA in their diets?

The human body can convert ALA to EPA and DHA so vegans do not need to worry about dietary EPA and DHA as long as they are getting sufficient ALA from plant oils and/or nuts.

Is it better to get omega-3 fatty acids from food or from supplements?

It is always better to get your nutrients from your diet than from supplements. However, if you cannot get sufficient omega-3 in your diet, you should consider taking a supplement. People who have suffered a heart attack are normally advised by health care providers to take omega-3 supplements.

How do I increase my omega-3 intake?

We recommend using the GB HealthWatch Diet and Nutrition Evaluator to get an assessment of your current omega-3 intake level.

The following guidelines can help ensure you are getting a healthy dose of omega-3:

1. Increase the amount of omega-3 rich foods in your diet (See Top Foods).
2. Try to use canola oil or olive oil in home cooking to increase ALA levels in homemade foods. Please be aware that the level of ALA in olive oil (0.76%) is about half of the level in canola oil, so using olive oil alone without any other omega-3 rich sources will not provide sufficient dietary omega-3.
3. Limit corn oil, peanut oil, and cottonseed oil in home cooking. These oils contain high levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids, but have too much omega-6 and little to no omega-3.
4. Cut down on peanut and sunflower seed based snacks. These are fat-rich, energy-dense foods that lack omega-3.
5. Take omega-3 supplements if you cannot get enough omega-3 in your diet.





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