In the past couple of decades, dietary professionals and health care providers have told you over and over again that you need to get more omega 3 foods in your diets. These polyunsaturated fatty acids are essential in the metabolic process.
Let’s look at the most nutritious omega 3 foods you need more of. But before that we take a moment to understand what they are and what they do.
What Are Omega 3 Foods?
As mammals, our bodies don’t synthesize or put together omega 3 fatty acids without consuming the building blocks to create them. There are three omega 3 fatty acids:
• α-linolenic acid (ALA): You can find it in plant oils. You need it to help build the next fatty acid on the chain.
• Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA): It is in animal (mostly marine) oils. You can use it to help form the next on the chain. One good example here is the cod liver oil.
• Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA): Also comes from animal oils. It is the most crucial of the three fatty acids for overall wellness.
Omega 3 fatty acids help your body to metabolize foods. They also break them down to become energy for the cellular processes which take place inside your body. The metabolic boost given by omega 3 fatty acids has a significant impact on your overall health. But is also essential in preventing or treating a number of health conditions. The benefits of omega 3 fatty acids make up a long list.
The 15 omega 3 foods listed below make up some of the most nutritious and have the highest concentration of omega 3 fatty acids. However, they are not all inclusive treatments. Therefore, they should not replace the advice and assistance of a health care professional for maintaining your health.
The 15 Most Nutritious Omega 3 Foods You Need More Of
First on the list of omega 3 foods is mackerel. According to Berkley Wellness:
Just 3 ounces of cooked Boston mackerel contains 1.1 grams of omega-3 fatty acids.
Cod Liver Oil
Cod liver oil is also among the top contenders of omega 3 foods. Nutrition Data reports that there is 2.66 g of omega 3 fatty acids in a single tablespoon (14g) of cod liver oil. This means that is has 66% of daily value (DV) we need.
You will go nuts over this next item on our list of omega 3 foods; walnuts. According to the nutritional profile provided by The World’s Healthiest Foods, ¼ cup of walnuts contain 2.72 g of omega 3 fatty acids.
This powerful little seed comes in pretty high up our list of omega 3 foods, because it is power packed. An ounce or 2 tablespoons of chia seeds packs 4.91 g of omega 3 fatty acids according to Nutrition Data.
Another of our top omega 3 foods is herring. Nutrition Data shows herring to contain 2.05 g of omega 3 fatty acids in 1 cup (140 g).
Wild caught salmon, as opposed to farm raised salmon, is a favorite among our list of omega 3 foods. The World’s Healthiest Foods lists the omega 3 fatty acid values of 4 oz. of wild salmon at 1.32 g, which is 55% of DV.
Next on our list of omega 3 foods is another powerful little seed; flaxseed. A tablespoon of whole flaxseeds (10.3 g) packs 2.35 g of omega 3 fatty acids according to Authority Nutrition.
When it comes to ranking tuna on our list of omega 3 foods, things can get a little complicated. It mostly depends on whether you’re buying it in a can or consuming fresh baked tuna. Typically, 6 oz. can contain anywhere from .35 g to 2.7 g of omega 3 fatty acids. Check out the chart at World’s Healthiest Foods to discover which varieties are most beneficial.
Though there are a number of varieties included under whitefish, they all rank well on our list of omega 3 foods. Nutrition Data reports that 3 oz. of whitefish contains about 1.75 g of omega 3 fatty acids. This brings it in at 34% of DV.
Sardines have lost a little bit in popularity over the years. But they are due to make a comeback on our list of omega 3 foods. A 3.2 oz. can of Atlantic sardines contains 1.46 g of omega 3 fatty acids, according to The World’s Healthiest Foods.
For omega 3 foods, most of the attention is on surf. But you can’t forget about turf completely. The World’s Healthiest Foods reports that 4 oz. of grass-fed beef contains 1.1 g of omega 3 fatty acids, which is 46% DV.
Though they don’t quite stack up to flax and chia seeds, hemp seeds are still a viable member on our list of omega 3 foods. Monica Reinagel, MS, LD/N, CNS shows hemp to come in a distant 3rd in comparison to the other two at 1.0 g per tablespoon.
Canned anchovies make our list of omega 3 foods as an honorable mention. A 2 oz. can of anchovies contains only .95 g of omega 3 fatty acids on the Nutrition Data chart.
Our second honorable mention on our omega 3 foods list is one you’re probably not familiar with; natto. Nutrition Data has ¼ cup of natto coming in at .45 g of omega 3 fatty acids.
We’re finishing off our list of omega 3 foods with one that barely makes the charts. But is a common food in nearly every household; egg yolks. According to Nutrition Data, an egg yolk only contains .388 g of omega 3 fatty acids, which makes up a little less than 10% DV.
A Note of Caution
The side effects list of consuming omega 3 foods is typically limited to those with food allergies to marine animals. However, the most common marine food allergies relate to shellfish. These have limited omega 3 fatty acids anyway.
There are issues with omega 3 supplements as they interact with prescription medications. But they are typically limited to various individuals on a case by case basis. Follow proper dosage and consult your health care professional if you are considering an omega 3 supplement.
A Final Word
There is no doubt that we need to add omega 3 foods to our diets in order to make us healthier, and to prevent or treat specific health conditions. Try out several of the suggested omega 3 foods above as entrees or snacks and give your body a boost in its metabolic processes.
Let us know how the addition of omega 3 foods has given your health a boost in the comments below.