You’ve probably heard of people taking fish oil supplements before, but did you know why? Fish oil contains omega 3 fatty acids, which have a number of health benefits.
Omega 3 fatty acids are known to support heart health by reducing the risk factors for heart disease. These healthy fats also help with brain function, fight depression and anxiety, support healthy eyes, and reduce inflammation throughout the body. They’re also associated with better management of autoimmune disease symptoms, and they could even help people lose weight.
With so many health-conscious reasons to eat foods containing omega 3 fatty acids, the next question is, which foods should you eat? The following list of the 15 best foods for omega 3 fatty acids should give you some ideas. Following the list, I’ll share three other strategies for helping you get the most out of your omega-3-rich meals.
15 Fantastic Omega 3 Foods
- Chia Seeds
- Flax Seeds
Salmon is one of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids. A three-ounce serving size of salmon provides 1.1 to 1.9 mg of omega-3 fatty acids. Generally speaking, the deeper and colder the ocean is where the salmon live, the more omega-3 fatty acids they contain.
Salmon is rich in other nutrients, as well. A small salmon fillet provides 88% of the daily recommendation for protein, 116% for vitamin D, 14% for potassium, and 5% for iron. Vitamin D is interesting because not many foods contain significant amounts of vitamin D.
It’s a good source of several B vitamins and the trace mineral selenium, too. A small salmon fillet provides 122% of the daily recommendation for selenium.
Walnuts and walnut oil contain decent amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. A tablespoon of walnut oil provides 1456 mg of omega-3 fatty acids.
Walnuts provide other nutrients, too. An ounce of walnuts is around 14 walnut halves. This serving size contains 7% of the daily recommendation for fiber and 9% for protein. It also provides around 23% of the daily recommendation for fat, from mostly healthy fats. This includes alpha-linoleic acid, or ALA, the plant-based version of omega-3 fatty acids. An ounce of walnuts provides 2.5 grams of ALA.
Walnuts are also a good source of B vitamins, including folate, and minerals such as iron, copper, magnesium, manganese, and zinc.
Chia seeds are an amazing superfood, rich in protein, fiber, healthy fats, and several other health-promoting nutrients. An ounce of chia seeds provides 15% of the daily recommendation for fat, with just 5% coming from saturated fat.
Most of the fats in chia seeds are healthy fats, such as alpha-linoleic acid. A 100-gram serving of chia seeds provides around 18 grams of omega-3 fatty acids.
Chia seeds also provide other health-boosting nutrients. An ounce of chia seeds contains 10% of the daily recommendation for protein and 28% for fiber. It’s also a good source for B vitamins and for minerals such as magnesium, potassium, selenium, and zinc.
Like salmon, tuna is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, in the form of Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA). The amount of omega-3 fatty acids a serving size of tuna contains varies by type of tuna, but it generally ranges from 80-240 mg.
Besides omega-3 fatty acids, tuna contains other health-promoting nutrients. An ounce of canned tuna provides around 11% of the daily recommendation for protein. Tuna is also rich in iron, potassium, magnesium, selenium, and zinc, and it’s a good source of vitamin D and several B vitamins.
Beans are known for being rich in both fiber and protein, but they’re surprisingly rich in omega-3 fatty acids, too. A 100-gram serving of kidney beans provides around 200 mg of omega-3 fatty acids. Soybeans and navy beans are also good sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
The nutrient profile for beans is well-rounded. A cup of kidney beans provides 82% of the daily recommendation for protein, 100% for fiber, 68% for iron, 53% for potassium, and 12% for calcium. Kidney beans are one of the foods that are rich in folate. It also contains other like B vitamins, as well as vitamin C, vitamin K, and zinc.
Sardines are small cold-water fish that are often canned and sold as snacks. Like tuna and salmon, sardines contain the EPA and DHA versions of omega-3 fatty acids. Some sources indicate that a serving of sardines provides around 2,205 mg of omega-3 fatty acids per serving.
One nice thing about getting your omega-3s from sardines is that they tend to be lower in mercury than some other types of fish. Like salmon, they’re also a fairly good source of vitamin D. A one-ounce serving of sardines provides 7% of the daily recommendation for vitamin D, along with 14% for protein, 8% for calcium, and 5% for iron.
Sardines are also rich in vitamin B12, and they contain vitamin A, several other B vitamins, vitamin E, and vitamin K.
There are several types of nutrition seaweed and algae, ranging from nori to spirulina and chlorella. These are nutrient-dense foods in several ways, and they’re also surprising. Seaweed and algae are one of the only plant sources of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA.
Seaweed and algae can be eaten in several different ways. Some people snack on seaweed or wrap it around sushi. Algae like spirulina are often found in powdered form in health food stores. Many people blend it into smoothies for added nutrition.
Besides omega-3 fatty acids, dried seaweed provides minerals such as iron and magnesium. It's also one of the foods with an abundance of iodine contents.
Like other cold-water fish, halibut is relatively rich in vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids. A small halibut fillet provides around 50% of the daily recommendation for vitamin D, as well as 80% for protein, 17% for potassium, and 177% for selenium. Halibut is also an excellent source for several B vitamins, vitamin E, and vitamin A.
A six-ounce serving of cooked halibut provides around 0.8 grams of omega-3 fatty acids—more than pike or walleye, but less than salmon and tuna. Halibut is also delicious in a variety of recipes.
Avocados are one of the richest plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids. A 100-gram serving of avocado provides around 190 mg of omega-3s. The beautiful nutrition profile doesn’t stop there. Avocados contain soluble fiber, which, like omega-3 fatty acids, helps support heart health. One avocado provides 36% of the daily recommendation for fiber.
An avocado also provides around 15% of the daily recommendation for potassium, and it’s high in other minerals, such as iron, magnesium, and zinc. It’s also rich in vitamins K, E, C, A, and several B vitamins, including folate.
One nice thing about avocados is that they’re a versatile food: they can be eaten as a stand-alone snack, in recipes, or as sides.
Like chia seeds, flax seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. A tablespoon of flax seeds contains 6.703 grams of omega-3s in the form of ALA. They’re also rich in fiber, protein, and several minerals.
An ounce of flax seeds provides 28% of the daily recommendation for fiber, with 10% for protein. Flax seeds are also a food source of zinc, selenium, magnesium, iron, calcium, and some B vitamins.
Flax seeds are associated with reduced blood pressure. Like other foods high in fiber and omega-3s, flax seeds help support healthy hearts.
Broccoli is a superfood in the cruciferous vegetable family. It’s a low-calorie, nutrient-dense food that provides antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties through its compound, sulforaphane. A cup or raw broccoli also contains 90% of the daily recommendation for vitamin C, 14% for folate, and 77% for vitamin K. It’s rich in minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, selenium, and zinc.
Although people don’t often associate broccoli with fat, the fats that this vegetable does contain are healthy. A 100-gram serving of broccoli provides around 151 mg of omega-3 fatty acids.
Shrimp is often thought of as a luxury food, served as a side to steaks or other seafood main dishes. However, shrimp has a unique nutrient profile that makes it a valuable food on its own. A three-ounce serving of shrimp provides 36% of the daily recommendation for protein. Shrimp is a good source of iron and calcium.
Like some other seafood, shrimp is relatively rich in omega-3 fatty acids. A three-ounce serving of shrimp provides around 267 mg of fatty acids.
Okra is an edible seedpod in the mallow family, often used in gumbo recipes. Some people love it, while others don’t like it because cooked okra can have a slimy texture. As with chia seeds and ground flax seeds that have been soaked in water, that slimy texture could indicate the presence of omega-3 fatty acids.
Okra is also a good source of folate, as well as several B vitamins, vitamin A, vitamin K, and minerals such as manganese, magnesium, and calcium.
For a vegetable, spinach is surprisingly rich in omega-3 fatty acids. A 100-gram serving of spinach provides around 371 mg of omega-3 fatty acids.
Spinach also provides fiber, vitamins, and minerals that promote overall body health. A cup of raw spinach provides around 16% of the daily recommendation for vitamin A, which is essential for eye health. It also contains 15% of the daily recommendation for folate, 9% for vitamin C, and 121% for vitamin K, which helps with blood clotting and remineralization of the teeth and bones.
Like salmon, tuna, and halibut, mackerel is a fatty fish that provides omega-3 fatty acids. A serving of mackerel provides a little more than 1 gram of omega-3 fatty acids, as EPA and DHA. Mackerel is also rich in vitamin D, with around 16% of the daily recommendation for vitamin D in a one-ounce serving.
Mackerel is often smoked or canned. It provides minerals such as calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, selenium, and zinc.
Three Strategies To Immediately Boost Your Omega-3 Intake
Strategy #1: Eat Fish For Breakfast
In some areas of the world, it’s common to have smoked mackerel for the morning meal. You could switch it up by trying halibut or salmon, along with a side of fresh spinach and avocado slices.
Strategy #2: Blend Up A Smoothie
Spinach, chia seeds, flax seeds, and algae such as spirulina are great in smoothies. You could add fresh fruit for added vitamins and minerals, as well as flavor. You could also sip your smoothie while munching on a handful of walnuts.
Strategy #3: Eat More Beans
Besides providing some omega 3 fatty acids, beans contain fiber, protein, and minerals that support your overall health. Try eating refried beans with avocado slices, or simmer up a traditional Italian soup that contains both fish and white beans.