What Foods Are Rich in Omega-3?


Omega-3 fatty acids provide many health benefits, from supporting heart and brain health to reducing inflammation. Unfortunately, most people do not get enough omega-3s in their diet. While supplements are an option, eating omega-3-rich foods should be the priority. This article explores the best dietary sources of omega-3s and simple ways to add more to your meals.

What Foods Are Rich in Omega-3?

Overview of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3s are a type of polyunsaturated fat required for human health. There are three main omega-3s:

  • EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) – Improves heart health markers like triglycerides and blood pressure. Supports cognitive function.
  • DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) – Crucial for brain development and function. Enhances cell membrane fluidity.
  • ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) – The plant form of omega-3. Converts poorly to EPA/DHA but still provides benefits.

Omega-3s help reduce inflammation, enhance blood flow, stabilize heart rhythms, and improve many other body processes. They are an essential nutrient, meaning our bodies cannot produce them – they must come from food or supplements.

Experts recommend adults consume at least 500 mg of combined EPA/DHA omega-3s daily, with an optimal intake up to 2000 mg per day for heart benefits. However, average intakes are well below recommendations.

Adding more omega-3 foods to your diet can help bridge this gap and provide wide-ranging health advantages.

Top Omega-3 Food Sources

The richest sources of EPA and DHA omega-3s come from fatty fish and other seafood. ALA omega-3s are most abundant in plant oils. Here are the top foods to eat for optimal omega-3 intake:

Fish and Seafood

Fatty Fish

  • Salmon: 2010 mg EPA/DHA per 100g serving
  • Sardines: 1849 mg per 100g
  • Mackerel: 1747 mg per 100g
  • Herring: 1524 mg per 100g
  • Anchovies: 1173 mg per 100g
  • Trout: 1058 mg per 100g

Other Seafood

  • Oysters: 605 mg per 100g
  • Mussels: 386 mg per 100g
  • Crab: 325 mg per 100g
  • Lobster: 300 mg per 100g
  • Tuna: 228 mg per 100g

Aim for at least two 3-4 oz servings per week of fatty fish like salmon, sardines, or mackerel. Many types of whitefish and tuna are still decent sources.


  • Flaxseed oil: 8313 mg ALA per Tbsp
  • Soybean oil: 7251 mg ALA per Tbsp
  • Perilla oil: 6900 mg ALA per Tbsp
  • Walnut oil: 2554 mg ALA per Tbsp
  • Canola oil: 1974 mg ALA per Tbsp

Flax, soybean, perilla and walnut oils provide the most abundant vegetarian ALA omega-3 source. Use daily in dressings, marinades, and cooking.

Nuts and Seeds

  • Flaxseeds: 6388 mg ALA per 100g
  • Chia seeds: 5785 mg ALA per 100g
  • English walnuts: 2542 mg ALA per 100g
  • Soybeans: 1233 mg ALA per 100g
  • Hemp seeds: 1000 mg ALA per 100g

Sprinkle ground flax or chia seeds into oatmeal, yogurt, baked goods and smoothies. Enjoy walnuts, soybeans, and hemp seeds as snacks or in trail mixes.


  • Brussels sprouts: 494 mg ALA per 100g
  • Kidney beans: 406 mg ALA per 100g
  • Spinach: 145 mg ALA per 100g
  • Broccoli: 104 mg ALA per 100g

Green leafy vegetables and legumes contain modest amounts of plant-based ALA omega-3. Eat a variety of these foods.

Fortified Foods

Some common grocery items are now fortified with EPA/DHA from fish oil:

  • Eggs: Up to 500 mg EPA/DHA per egg
  • Yogurt: 125 mg EPA/DHA per cup
  • Milk: 100 mg EPA/DHA per cup
  • Orange juice: 80 mg EPA/DHA per cup

Check labels and choose fortified versions of diary, eggs, milk and juice to conveniently add more omega-3s.

Ways to Add Omega-3s to Meals

Beyond eating more fish, here are easy strategies to increase omega-3s from foods:

1. Use Omega-3 Oils

Replace your usual oils with unsaturated omega-3-rich oils:

  • Roast vegetables with walnut oil
  • Sauté greens in canola oil
  • Dress salads with flax oil and vinegar
  • Marinate chicken in soybean oil

2. Sprinkle Chia and Flax Seeds

These powerful seeds blend seamlessly into many dishes:

  • Add to your breakfast oats, yogurt, or smoothies
  • Mix into bread doughs, cookie batter, and muffins
  • Sprinkle on soups, salads, and stir fries
  • Make chia pudding for a creamy plant-based dessert

3. Snack on Nuts and Seeds

Keep bags of walnuts, pecans, sunflower and pumpkin seeds handy for nutritious snacks and toppings.

4. Eat More Plant Foods

Work in omega-3-containing vegetables like Brussels sprouts, beans, and spinach.

5. Choose Fortified Versions

Opt for eggs, milk, yogurt and juices with extra EPA/DHA.

6. Eat More Fatty Fish

Prepare salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines, trout, or herring once or twice per week. Canned fish is affordable and convenient.

Omega-3 Content of Common Foods

To maximize your intake, here is the omega-3 content in 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of some common foods:

Food Total Omega-3 (mg) ALA (mg) EPA+DHA (mg)
Chia seeds 17552 5967 0
Flaxseeds 22673 22708 0
Salmon fillet 2010 0 2010
Sardines, canned 1849 0 1849
Atlantic mackerel 1747 0 1747
Soybean oil 7251 7251 0
Walnuts 2542 2542 0
Hemp seeds 1000 1000 0
Trout 1058 0 1058
Tuna 228 0 228
Kidney beans 406 406 0
Spinach 145 145 0
Broccoli 104 104 0
Tofu 253 253 0

Seafood provides EPA and DHA, while plant sources offer ALA. Eat a variety of omega-3 foods daily to meet your needs.

Omega-3 Supplements

If diet alone cannot provide enough EPA and DHA, a quality fish or algal oil supplement is recommended. Here are effective supplemental doses:

  • 500 mg per day for general health
  • 1000-2000 mg for heart benefits
  • Up to 4000 mg to lower triglycerides under medical supervision

When buying supplements, choose reputable third-party tested brands listing EPA/DHA amounts on the label. Krill oil and algal oil are also valid options.

Key Takeaways on Omega-3 Rich Foods

  • Fatty fish like salmon and sardines have the highest amounts of EPA and DHA. Eat at least 8 ounces per week.
  • ALA omega-3s come from oils, nuts, seeds, and plants like flaxseeds, walnuts, and Brussels sprouts.
  • Fortified versions of eggs, yogurt, milk and juice can conveniently boost intakes.
  • Add omega-3-rich foods like fish, nuts, seeds, and oils to meals whenever possible.
  • If diet is insufficient, a quality fish or algal oil supplement can provide EPA and DHA.

Making a few simple changes, like using chia seeds and walnut oil regularly, goes a long way towards optimizing omega-3 intake for better health. Aim to get a variety of ALA and EPA/DHA sources.

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