Omega 3 Sources

Omega 3 sources:

  • Fatty Fish:
    • salmon
    • sardines
    • herring
  • Plant sources:
    • flaxseeds
    • walnuts
    • soybeans
    • wheat germ
    • canola oil
  • Supplements:
  • Note: Not all omega 3 rich foods are created equally.

    That's because there are different types of omega 3 fatty acids and your body absorbs them differently:

    • DHA (docohexaenoic acid)
    • EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid)
    • ALA (alpha-linolenic acid)

    Omega 3 Sources: DHA and EPA

    Omega 3 rich foods such as fatty fish are good sources of these types of omega 3's.

    Your body can absorb and utilize DHA and EPA easily.

    (DHA and EPA are important in immune and neurological systems and are linked to a lower risk of heart disease.)

    Omega 3 Sources: ALA

    On the other hand, ALA comes only from plant sources and is not readily usable by the body the way DHA and EPA are.

    In fact, the body must convert ALA to EPA. And then it must convert that EPA into DHA. This conversion is not efficient.

    Studies suggest less than 10% of ALA ends up as EPA.

    What does this all mean?

    Eating fish is the best way to get your omega 3's.

    And not just any fish. Fatty fish.

    Remember, Omega 3's are fats. There's no fat in "fat free" fish! So choose fatty fish at least twice a week:

    • salmon
    • sardines

    Use this free weekly dinner planner, noting "2" in the box labeled "# times fish/week," and then plan which days and what fish you'll prepare during the week. Failing to plan is planning to fail.

    Cooking Suggestions:

    • Prepare canned salmon the same way you would prepare canned tuna.
    • Try making salmon patties (with canned salmon).
    • Prepare poached or grilled salmon and make an extra piece to have for lunch the next day. Cold salmon is great in salad, or cooked in omelets.
    • Order salmon rolls, salmon sashimi, or salmon nigiri in a Japanese restaurant. (See Calories in Sushi)
    • Add a can of sardines (drained) to a salad.
    • Serve sardines on crackers with mustard. (Sardines sure stink, but they really taste good!)

    ALA Omega 3 rich foods are still important to eat, even though they're not as "available" as DHA and EPA

    So include them regularly:

    • Sprinkle ground flaxseeds on hot or cold cereal, in yogurt, or on cottage cheese.
    • Add walnuts to salad or eat a handful as a snack.
    • Snack on (organic) edamame soybeans.
    • Order edamame when you eat in a Japanese restaurant, and request a second order to take home and enjoy over the course of the next few days.

    Adding Omega 3 fatty acids to otherwise "ordinary" foods (like pasta, peanut butter, eggs, etc.) has become a hot trend. So...

    Does it make any difference if my omega 3 sources come from fish or from foods fortified with omega 3?

    It could. Some omega 3 fortified foods have added EPA and DHA and some have ALA added.

    As you just learned above, the omega 3 called ALA isn't as available to the body as the other two omega 3 fats.

    Bottom line

    Omega 3 fortified foods contribute to your total intake, but don't contain enough to make up for a diet low in omega 3.

    So don't forget to eat fatty fish 2x/wk, and if you don't do so regularly, consider taking a fish oil supplement.

    My Professional Recommendation:

    Nordic Naturals Pro Omega

    For overall health, experts recommend getting 500-1800 milligrams combined EPA and DHA/day plus 1,300-3000 mg ALA/day.

    Here's to your health!

    More of my professional advice you may find useful:

    Improve Omega 3/Omega 6 ratio:
    Increase Omega 3 Sources, Decrease Omega 6

    Healthy Eating

    Eat Food, Not Chemicals

    Personal Nutrition Guide Home Page