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Clinically Reviewed
Clinically Reviewed

Top 3 Sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Why They’re Important

Seven days to a healthier you

If you’re ready to make yourself a priority, take this 7-day Self-Care challenge. Consider it a new daily medicine—don’t miss a dose! Side effects may include increased well-being, happiness, love, and gratitude. (Remember: Self-care looks different for everyone. Take it one day at a time, discover your style, and build on your skills as you go!)

What are Omega-3s?

Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of fat known as an essential fat. This means our bodies need these nutrients to function properly and survive. Since our bodies cannot make omega-3s on our own,  we have to get them from our diet—from omega-3 rich foods like fatty fish, or from supplements.

Benefits of Omega-3

Research in recent years points to the plentiful health benefits of consuming foods rich in omega-3s. For example, people who eat fish one to four times per week are less likely to die of heart disease. Omega-3 supplements have also been shown to successfully lower triglyceride levels (which is beneficial, as high levels of triglycerides may increase your risk of heart disease). Additionally, research shows omega-3 supplements provide relief for people suffering from rheumatoid arthirtis (NIH, 2018).

How can I add Omega-3 to my diet?

There are 3 types of omega-3s: EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), which are found in fish, and ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), which comes from plant sources.   The three main sources of Omega-3 include:

  • Fatty Fish: Salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring and sardines are the best food sources of omega-3 fatty acids.  About 3 ounces of mackerel provides about 2.5 grams of omega-3, and the same serving of salmon provides about 1.8 grams.  
  • Flaxseeds are small brown or yellow seeds. They are often ground, milled or used to make oil.  These seeds are by far the richest plant-based source of the omega-3 fat ,ALA.  Flaxseed oil is often used as an omega-3 supplement.  One tablespoon of flaxseed oil contains about 7.3 grams of omega-3.  Milled flax seeds make a great addition to yogurt, protein shakes, salads, and cereals.  
  • Walnuts are another plant-based source of the omega-3 fatty acid, ALA. They are also the only tree nut that is an excellent source of omega-3s, providing 1.7 grams of ALA per one-half cup serving. Walnuts are also high in fiber, manganese, copper and vitamin E.  Bonus tip: The skin of the walnut is where the majority of phenol antioxidants are contained.  

How much Omega-3 do I need?

Dietary guidelines in the United States recommend that adults eat eight or more ounces of a variety of seafood (fish or shellfish) per week (children should eat less). This recommendation provides about 250 mg per day of EPA and DHA, as well as the numerous other nutritional benefits of seafood. To make sure to get enough omega 3s, rotate in fish famous for their omega-3 profile.  

If higher levels of omega-3s are needed for at-risk patients, some health providers may recommend a fish oil supplement with doses ranging up to four grams daily.

Personalize your Omega-3 approach

These are the main food sources of omega-3, but there are other food sources that contain the essential fats as well. Talk to your Vori Health Registered Dietitian Nutritionist or Health Coach to find more ways to up your daily intake and identify how omega-3 can boost your health.

Bowl of butter nut squash soup.

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