20 Foods Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids, also known as polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), are essential fatty acids that have numerous health benefits. They play a crucial role in the growth and proper functioning of the human brain. In addition, they also aid in strengthening immune system and reducing the risk of heart diseases.

There are three different types of omega-3s – alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). ALA is a type of omega-3 which can’t be produced by the human body. Once consumed, it can be converted into DHA and EPA, but the amounts are very limited. So, it is important to include foods rich in omega-3 fats in your diet.

ALA is found in nuts, seeds, and plant-based foods, while DHA and EPA are typically found in fish, fish oils, and seafood.

What are the risks of an Omega-3 deficiency?

Being deficient in omega-3 fatty acids in long term can cause huge problems. For example, if child doesn’t consume enough omega-3 fatty acids during the childhood, their brain may not have developed normally and this can lead to poor memory in their later life.

An omega-3 deficiency is also associated with a lower IQ, depression, mental disorders, heart disease, and many other serious diseases.

How much Omega-3 should I consume per day?

There is no official recommended daily dose of omega-3 for the general population yet. However, the World Health Organization recommends that adults over 18 years should get 0.5-1 gram of EPA/DHA combined per day or about 4 grams of total omega-3s (ALA/EPA/DHA combined). This is the dose recommended solely to maintain optimal health. There are specific doses recommended for certain health conditions.

If you can’t get enough omega-3s from your daily diet, you should consider taking a supplement. Be sure your supplement contains enough EPA and DHA as they are the most useful types of omega-3s.

What are the best food sources of Omega-3s?

Below are the 20 foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids (based on levels per 200-calorie serving).

NoFood NameTotal Omega 3s (mg)
1Anchovy (raw)
2275
2Broccoli (cooked)
2346
3Canola oil
2067
4Caviar
5388
5Chia seed
7164
6Cod liver oil
4375
7Fish oil (salmon)
7828
8Flaxseed
8543
9Flaxseed oil
12059
10Herring (atlantic, raw)
2188
11Mackerel (atlantic, raw)
2605
12Oysters (wild, raw)
1977
13Sablefish
1701
14Salmon (alaska native, raw)
3062
15Sardine (canned)
1820
16Spinach (cooked, boiled)
2183
17Tuna (bluefin, raw)
1803
18Walnut
2776
19Walnut oil
2353
20Wheat germ oil
1561

Are there potential side effects of consuming too much Omega-3 fatty acids?

Omega-3s are considered very safe even when taking up to 20 grams at a time, but some people may experience mild side effects when taking too much omega-3 foods and supplements. Some possible side effects that can occur include:

  • Stomach pain or nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Changes in blood sugar levels
  • Allergic reactions
  • Potential for excess bleeding if you take more than three grams per day

While most people won’t experience any side effects when consuming plenty of omega-3 foods and taking supplements daily, talk to your doctor about side effects you may have when taking higher doses than the recommended amount. One thing to note is that you definitely should not take fish oil supplement if you have an allergy to most fish, since this will cause a serious reaction.

If you are taking any prescription medicines, particularly blood thinners such as aspirin or warfarin, you must avoid omega-3 and fish oil supplements. As a natural blood thinner, it may cause side effects like bruising and even in extreme cases, internal bleeding.

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