Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of healthy and essential fats that offer many health benefits. The need for omega-3 fatty acids for adults is recommended at least 250-500 mg per day to keep the body healthy. Omega-3 fatty acids are long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC-PUFAs) which include alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA). Some foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids DHA, ALA, and EPA include fatty fish, algae, seaweed, and some high-fat plant foods including vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Fatty and oily fish, seaweed, and algae are sources of DHA and EPA. While nuts and seeds are rich in ALA fatty acids. ALA is an essential fatty acid because the body cannot synthesize it. ALA can be converted by the body into EPA and DHA.
Omega-3 fatty acids are an important component of the membrane that surrounds every cell in your body. Omega-3 also provides calories to energize your body and has many functions in the heart, blood vessels, lungs, endocrine system, and immune system. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is the most abundant omega-3 fatty acid found in brain cells, sperm and eyes. DHA is also an important component of heart tissue and is naturally found in breast milk.
Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA) is a short-chain omega-3 fatty acid that functions as a source of energy for the body and can be converted to EPA and DHA but in very limited quantities. ALA is an essential fatty acid, which cannot be made by the body, so you must get it from food. ALA has an important function and is needed to make other omega-3 fats. ALA is also found to be beneficial for heart health. Foods such as nuts (walnuts, pecans, and hazelnuts), vegetable oils, radishes, green leafy vegetables, fruits, and flaxseeds are the best sources of ALA.
Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) is a long chain fat made from ALA in our body and plays an important role in the body especially for heart health. The highest EPA sources come from fish oil, fish and algae oil.
Benefits of consuming omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids play a role in the development of the brain, eyes, and nerves in infants. This fat also helps maintain the immune system and helps reduce the risk of heart disease in adults. Several studies have documented the cardiovascular benefits of consumption of omega-3 fatty acids which are associated with anti-inflammatory and anti-blood-clotting effects.
Omega-3 fatty acids both EPA and DHA can protect the heart and blood vessels from various problems in various ways. They can keep your heart rhythm stable, increase circulation (blood flow throughout the body), and keep triglycerides low (fat that enters our blood after eating). Therefore, higher levels of omega-3 fats, EPA and DHA in the blood are associated with a lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease.
Consumption of omega-3 fatty acids also increases DHA levels in the blood and slows down the development of abnormal arterial wall thickening due to fat deposits (atherosclerosis). Consumption of omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA in patients with diabetes and metabolic syndrome helps reduce levels of triglycerides and cholesterol in the blood.
Some research also shows that consumption of omega-3 fatty acids can reduce the risk of bone loss, and neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s, dementia, and other problems with cognitive function. Omega-3 fatty acids can also improve a baby’s cognitive and visual development if consumed during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
During pregnancy and breastfeeding it is recommended to eat 8 to 12 ounces per week of fish (salmon, herring, sardines, and trout) and other seafood to improve the health of your baby. Research has not yet explained how foods containing EPA and DHA during pregnancy and breastfeeding can affect the health or development of infants. Several studies have shown that consumption of these foods can increase a baby’s weight at birth. Another benefit of omega-3 fatty acids is reducing the incidence of depression and other related conditions.
Recommendations for Omega-3 Fatty Acid Intake
Not many experts have determined the recommended amount of omega-3 fatty acids, except for ALA which has been recommended depending on your age and gender. The recommended intake of ALA omega-3 fatty acids according to the Institute of Medicine (IOM) is 1.6 grams/day for men and 1.1 grams/day for women. The following is the recommended daily average for ALA based on sex and age.
|Gender and age||Recommended |
daily average ALA
|Newborns up to 12 months||0,5 g|
|Children aged 1-3 years||0,7 g|
|Children aged 4-8 years||0,9 g|
|Boys 9-13 years old||1,2 g|
|Girls aged 9-13 years||1,0 g|
|Young men ages 14-18 years||1,6 g|
|Teenage girl aged 14-18 years||1,1 g|
|Teenagers and pregnant women||1,4 g|
|Teenagers and breastfeeding women||1,3 g|
Various studies and health organizations suggest the amount of daily intake for EPA and DHA, which is safe for consumption. The American Heart Association also recommends EPA and DHA intake of 0.5-1 g / day. Nutritionists consider adequate intake (AI) to recommend a standard for omega-3 requirements for adult men, which is 1600 milligrams (mg) and 1100 mg for women.
Meanwhile, a workshop sponsored by the National Institute of Health and the International Society for the Study of Fatty Acids and Lipids (NIH / ISSFAL) recommends the amount of DHA intake for pregnant and breastfeeding women at 200 mg/day. Whereas children and adults the recommended intake for DHA and EPA is 500mg / day. Individuals with high blood triglycerides can consume up to 2-4 grams of EPA and DHA per day given in capsule form.
Foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids DHA, ALA, and EPA
Here is a list of foods that are very high in omega-3 both DHA, ALA, and EPA that you can get easily.
1.Chia seeds (5,055 mg per serving)
Chia seeds contain the highest omega-3 fatty acids when compared to others. Chia seeds are an excellent source of vegetable omega-3 (ALA) fatty acids. In 1 ounce (28 grams) of chia seeds contain 5,055 mg of omega-3 fatty acids. You will get 5,055 g of ALA per 1 ounce serving. Chia seeds are not only rich in omega-3 fatty acids, but also high in vitamins, calcium, fiber, protein, phosphorus, and minerals. Chia seeds are beneficial in reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes, increasing sunshine during exercise, and providing benefits for brain health. The recommended amount of consumption of chia seeds is 1 to 2 tablespoons per day. You can consume chia seeds by sprinkling it on yogurt, cereals, salads, smoothies, or in your favorite quick bread dough.
2.Mackerel Fish (4,107 mg per serving)
Mackerel fish is very rich in nutrients such as vitamin B12, selenium, and omega-3 fatty acids. These fish are very tasty and in some Western countries, they are generally smoked and eaten as whole fillets. This fish is very rich in omega-3 fatty acids, in one piece of salted mackerel containing 4,107 mg of omega-3 fatty acids or 5,134 mg per 3.5 ounces (100 grams). In one portion of mackerel (3 ounces) you get 0.59 g DHA and 0.43 g EPA. Make sure you choose mackerel that is free of chemicals and harmful metals, it is recommended to consume a maximum of four servings of mackerel and other oily fish in one week.
3.Salmon (4.123 mg per serving)
In half a fillet Atlantic salmon contains 4,123 mg of omega-3 fatty acids or 2,260 mg in 3.5 ounces (100 grams). One serving of salmon (3 ounces) contains 1.22 g DHA and 0.35 g EPA. In addition to omega-3, salmon as one of the nutrient-dense foods on the planet also contains high-quality protein and various other nutrients such as vitamin D, selenium, potassium, protein, magnesium, phosphorus, and vitamin B. Research also reveals the benefits of consuming salmon twice or thrice a week can reduce the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, dementia, and lower depression.
Canola oil contains omega-3 fatty acids especially ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) which can improve heart health. This oil is called the healthiest cooking oil, is cheaper than olive oil, has less saturated fat, and is resistant to use for cooking at high temperatures. Besides canola oil, other good choices include flaxseed oil, walnut oil, and olive oil.
5.Cod liver oil (2,682 mg per serving)
In one tablespoon of cod liver oil, you will get 2,682 mg of omega-3 fatty acids. Cod liver oil is more a supplement than food because it is not only high in omega-3 fatty acids but also contains vitamins A, D, and other nutrients. Cod liver oil is the result of extraction from the cod liver that has a variety of benefits for your body and brain. You just consume one tablespoon per day, do not consume more than one tablespoon at a time because too much vitamin A can be harmful to the body.
6.Walnuts (2,570 mg per serving)
Walnuts have omega-3 fatty acids which are quite high, in 1 ounce (28 grams) there is 2,570 mg of omega-3 fatty acids. In one cup Walnuts contain 3.346 g of ALA. Besides being rich in omega-3 fatty acids, walnuts also contain large amounts of copper, manganese, vitamin E, biotin, magnesium, and fiber. Walnuts not only have many vascular benefits but also help you maintain ideal body weight.
7.Flaxseed (2,350 mg per serving)
In one tablespoon (10.3 grams) flaxseeds contain omega-3 2,350 mg of whole seeds. Flaxseed is considered a superfood that is often ground or used to make oil. Flaxseed oil is a source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) which is an important source of energy. Flaxseeds contain 6,703 g of ALA per tbsp.
Flaxseeds are not only the richest whole food source of omega-3 fatty alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), but also contain a source of fiber, potassium, lignin, protein, iron, zinc, magnesium, and other nutrients. Some research shows that flaxseed is good for the heart, digestion, and skin of a person. Flax seeds have up to 800 times more lignin content than other plant foods. Lignin is an antioxidant and phytoestrogen which has been proven to help prevent heart disease and cancer.
Flaxseed is very good for heart health because 42% of flaxseed calories come from total fat, total fat from flaxseed 73% is polyunsaturated fat, mostly in the form of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Flaxseed can also reduce the value of blood triglycerides, reduce blood pressure, reduce platelet aggregation, reduce the inflammatory response, and can protect from strokes.
Flaxseed is often ground to be used as oil. Flaxseed oil is often used as an omega-3 supplement which is beneficial for health. Flaxseed oil does not have the added benefit of fiber, lignin, and protein. Flaxseed oil easily becomes rancid, so keep it in the refrigerator for no more than 6-8 weeks. The recommended intake of flaxseed is around 2-3 tablespoons per day. You can add flaxseeds to food by adding it to oatmeal, yogurt, smoothies, salads, or cereal.
8.Sardine (2,205 mg per serving)
In one cup (149 grams) canned sardines contain 2,205 mg of omega-3 or 1,480 mg per 3.5 ounces (100 grams). One serving of canned sardines contains 0.74 g DHA and 0.45 g EPA. Sardines are small, oily fish and they are very nutritious especially when eaten whole. Sardines contain almost every nutrient needed by your body, these fish also contain high sodium so they can balance your food such as fruits and vegetables that have low sodium. In 3.5 ounces (100grams) dried sardines also contain vitamin B12 (200% RDI), vitamin D (24% RDI), and selenium (96% RDI).
9.Soybean (1,241 mg per serving)
Soybeans contain omega-3 fatty acids 1,443 mg per 3.5 ounces (100 grams) or 670 mg in ½ cup (47 grams). Besides being high in omega-3 fatty acids, soy is also high in omega-6 fatty acids and other nutrients. Soybean also has various nutrients and minerals such as vitamin K, magnesium, folate, potassium, riboflavin, protein and fiber. Soybean is often used as oil for cooking and as part of food or salad. Soybean oil contains 0.923 g of ALA per tbsp. It’s best not to eat too much soy because it contains omega-6 which can cause inflammation if you eat too much.
10.Caviar (1,086 mg per serving)
One tablespoon (14.3 grams) contains 1,086 mg of omega-3 fatty acids or 6,786 mg per 3.5 ounces (100 grams). Caviar consists of fish eggs that contain various essential nutrients for the body such as a source of choline, and a source of omega-3 fatty acids. Caviar is considered a luxury food item that is most often used in small quantities as a starter, taster or garnish.
11.Anchovy (951 mg per serving)
In one can (45 grams) of European anchovy, you will get 951 mg of omega-3 fatty acids or 2,113 mg per 3.5 ounces (100 grams). Apart from being a source of omega-3 fatty acids, anchovies are also a source of niacin, calcium, and selenium. Anchovy is a small and oily fish that is often bought dry or canned. Anchovy can also be used as a pizza topping, and salad. They are also used to flavor many dishes and sauces.
Rainbow trout is a healthy and popular type of fish that contains a variety of nutrients that are good for health, one of which is omega-3 fatty acids. In one portion of trout, you will get 0.44 g DHA and 0.40 g EPA. In addition to omega-3 fatty acids, trout are also a source of protein, vitamin D, and potassium.
13.Herring (946 mg per serving)
In 3.5 ounces (100 grams) herring contains 2,366 mg of omega-3 fatty acids or 946 mg per medium fillet (40 grams). Herring not only contains omega-3 fatty acids, but also contains almost 100% RDI for vitamin D and selenium, and 221% RDI for vitamin B12. Herring is popular breakfast food in western countries such as England. These fish are medium-sized and oily, and are often served smoked, salted or cooked and then sold as canned snacks.
14.Oysters (370 mg per serving)
Oysters are a favorite clam that restaurants tend to serve as an appetizer, which contains all kinds of omega-3 fatty acids. One portion of your oyster will get 0.14 g ALA, 0.23 g DHA and 0.30 g EPA. In 6 raw oysters contains 370 mg omega-3, or 435 mg per 3.5 ounces (100 grams). Oysters also contain zinc, copper, vitamin B12, and more zinc than any other food on the planet. Therefore oysters are one of the most nutritious foods you can eat and can be eaten as an appetizer, a snack or a full meal.
Seabass is a popular Japanese fish and contains omega-3 fatty acids and other nutrients such as protein and selenium. One serving of seabass, you will get 0.47 g DHA and 0.18 g EPA.
Not only fatty fish, other seafood such as shrimp also contain omega-3 fatty acids. Shrimp are often eaten as an appetizer for people around the world. One serving of shrimp contains 0.12 g DHA and 012 g EPA. Not only is it rich in omega-3 fatty acids, but shrimp is also rich in protein and potassium.
17.Seaweed and algae
Seaweed, nori, chlorella, and spirulina are various forms of algae that are consumed by many people because they contain various health benefits. Seaweed and algae contain omega-3 fatty acids both EPA and DHA. They are an important source of omega-3 fatty acids for vegetarians or vegans. Seaweed and algae also contain other nutrients such as vitamin K, vitamin C, niacin, folate, protein, and choline. Seaweed also has anti-diabetic, antioxidant, and antihypertensive properties. There are many ways to incorporate seaweed and algae into food such as making it a snack of seaweed and adding algae (spirulina) to smoothies or oatmeal.
Edamame is immature soy and is very popular in Japan as a healthy snack. Edamame is rich in omega-3 and is also a good source of vegetable protein. In half a cup of frozen edamame beans, you will get 0.28 g of ALA. Boiled edamame beans are very good as a side dish or added to salads.
Red beans can also be a source of omega-3, which is good for you to add to food or eat as a side dish. Red beans contain 0.10 g of ALA per half-cup.
Basil leaves are not only useful for food seasoning, but also as a strong source of omega-3 fatty acids that are easily found. Basil leaves should be added near the end of your cooking time to maintain the nutrition of this plant. Apart from being a source of omega-3, basil leaf tea also helps calm and reduce cell inflammation.
Chicken eggs are not only an excellent source of protein, but they also contain omega-3 fatty acids. The content of omega-3 fatty acids will be higher in chickens that consume foods containing omega-3 such as flaxseeds and other solid grains.
Brussels sprouts are healthy vegetables that contain omega-3 fatty acids and various other nutrients such as vitamin C and vitamin K. These vegetables have a strong aroma so that not all children and adults like it.
Omega-3 fatty acids are mostly found in leafy green vegetables like spinach. Spinach is a vegetable that is not only high in iron and other nutrients but also a source of omega-3 fatty acids. Spinach is often added to salads or in addition to crispy sandwiches. These vegetables are also often added to eggs, soups or pasta dishes without affecting the taste.
Not only spinach, but broccoli is also a source of omega-3 fatty acids especially ALA. Broccoli also has various nutrients needed by the body such as fiber, zinc, and protein. You can add cheese sauce to broccoli to make it taste better, or grill it so you like it more.
Cashew nuts are often used as a snack or used as a base for many substitutes for vegan cheese. Cashew nuts are also a source of omega-3 fatty acids that contribute to the impulse to process metabolism to burn excess fat. Cashew nuts are also rich in fiber, protein, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants which can provide protective, anti-inflammatory, and anti-carcinogenic properties. Cashew nuts are very good for consumption to maintain heart health and prevent heart disease.
Can omega-3 fatty acids be dangerous?
Research published in The Journal of the American Medical Association states that omega-3 fatty acids do not reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke to be one of the less positive news about the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids for health. This research has received many responses from several experts on the research methods used, so the results are still many who doubt it.
Consuming foods that contain omega-3 is generally harmless. You should limit the consumption of certain types of fish that contain chemicals such as mercury, so it is recommended for breastfeeding women and pregnant women to eat no more than two servings of oily fish a week
Use of omega-3 supplements can cause side effects if consumed in more quantities than they should. Some side effects are often felt such as bad taste in the mouth, heartburn, nausea, diarrhea, stomach discomfort, headaches, and the smell of sweat. It is currently not recommended for use of omega-3 supplements in healthy adults and children. If you want to take it, it’s best to consult your doctor first.
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