Top 7 Sources of Omega-3
by Tobias • 6 minutes read
Last updated: 29 Aug, 2022
Today we are looking at 7 of the best sources of Omega-3's, but first we will look in to what an omega-3 is and why you need them.
Omega-3 is an essential fatty acid. When talking about the human body, something that is "essential" means that the body can't create it itself. So if you don't regularly eat something that can contains omega-3 then your body won't have any at all. Omega-3 is considered a "good fat" as it is a polyunsaturated fat.
Omega-3's play a vital role in your body to ensure proper cell functioning and they play an important role in many bodily systems. Diets that contain more oily fish such as the Mediterranean diet and the Okinawan diet have been shown to improve heart health and reduce instances of heart disease. Studies suggest that a diet high in omega-3 could reduce the amount of triglycerides in the body, which has numerous health benefits such as reducing the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease.
There are three main types of omega-3 fatty acids:
- docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
- eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
- alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)
Foods like fish and seafood are normally higher in DHA and EPA whereas plant sources normally contain a higher level of ALA. A healthy and balanced diet will ideally contain a mixture of these three fatty acids.
Several large health organisations have given their opinions on the amount of Omega-3 that should be in each persons diet. Unfortunately these seem to vary quite a lot from organisation to organisation. As a rule of thumb most suggest that you should eat at least 500 mg to 1500 mg a week.
Mackerel tops out our list as an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. This fatty fish contains 5.5g of omega-3s per 100g. A Mackerel fillet normally weighs about 90g's so just one fillet a week could be enough to reap the rewards.
Continuing with the fish theme, the next best source of omega-3's is Salmon. Salmon is a versatile fish that can be fried, baked, steamed or poached. Whether it is line-caught, farmed, fresh, frozen or canned, salmon can provide your body with all omega-3's it could ever need. With 4g of DHA omega-3 per 100g this fish really packs a punch.
Herring is a fish of many names, most Americans would know them as the fish they find in canned sardines, across the pond in the UK herring are smoked and served as "kippers" for breakfast. They are food that has sustained humanity for generations, whether as a massive trade commodity for the Hanseatic League or as a common meal of the working class in the beginnings of the new world. Herring, as it turns out, are also a very good source of Omega-3's and find themselves in third place on this list with a respectable 3.3g per 100g.
Known mainly for their amorous qualities, Oysters have long been the go-to for on-the-nose romantics and idealistic 3rd daters. This bivalve holds another bonus, and we aren't talking about a pearl. Oysters are one of the most nutritious foods that you can eat and actually contain more zinc than any other food. They are no lightweights when it comes to omega-3's as well as 100g of oysters contain 3.9g of EPA and DHA. I've just give you another reason to treat your date, though the champagne pairing may be harder to explain away.
This list was looking decidedly fishy, so for those that aren't a fan of the fruits of the sea we have a very potent alternative, flax seeds. Flax seeds are a great source of omega-3's and contain 25g of ALA per 100g. Remember, your body can convert ALA into DHA and EPA but it doesn't do this as effectively as animal based foods, only about a 6th of the ALA you eat can be used by your body.
Another seedy source of omega-3 comes from Chia seeds. These tiny seeds have boomed in popularity over the last few years, and for good reason, they offer a great mixture of proteins and fats to support a healthy diet. Chia seeds contain 17.5g of omega-3's per 100g, but again, this is ALA so your body can't utilise it very effectively. A scoop of chia seeds on your morning breakfast smoothie is an easy and simple way to get your RDA of omega-3.
Rounding off our list is our last offering to those that would prefer to get their omega-3's from a plant food. As with most nuts, Walnuts are loading with good fats in this case omega-3 fats. They top the list of all nuts when it comes to omega-3 weighing in at 7.5g of omega-3's per 100g, just a small handful would have 2.2g. There are so many easy ways to add walnuts into your diet, either in salads or just cracked open and eaten on their own.
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