What are good sources of omega-3 fatty acid?

Samantha Heller, RD
Nutrition & Dietetics
Fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, flounder and halibut are all good sources of omega-3 fatty acids. In the plant world flaxseed oil, ground flaxseeds, walnuts, soy foods, seaweed and canola oils are good sources of omega-3 fats, but they have a different form of omega-3 fats than fish do.

Fish omega-3s and plant omegas-3s are kissing cousins, not identical twins. Just as jazz and R&B are different forms of music, the omega-3 fats in  fish and those in plant foods are different forms of this essential fatty acid, and both are good for you. There is an ongoing controversy about the extent of the benefits of the plant form of omega-3 fats, as some scientists say the body does not utilize this form well. Others disagree and say that for non-fish eaters upping the intake of plant foods high in omega-3s will help the body get back into omega balance and derive all the benefits thereof.
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Cold-water fish tend to have the highest levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Try these:
  • Salmon
  • Haddock
  • Trout
  • Tuna
  • Mackerel
  • Sardines
  • Cod
Nuts and seeds -- and their oils -- are also good sources for omega-3s:
  • Flaxseeds and flaxseed oil
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Walnuts
  • Canola oil
  • Olive oil
Keri Gans
Nutrition & Dietetics
Anchovies, bluefish, herring, mackerel, salmon, sardines, sturgeon, lake trout, and tuna are particularly high in EPA and DHA. Plant foods also contain omega-3s. Walnuts, flax and flaxseed oil, canola oil, olive oil, and soybeans are good sources of ALA, which the body converts into DHA and EPA. However, plant sources of omega-3s may not offer the same benefits as those found in fish.
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Keri Peterson, MD
Internal Medicine

Watch as internal medicine specialist Dr. Keri Peterson reveals some good sources of omega-3 fatty acids.

Omega-3's are found mostly in seafood, especially higher-fat, cold-water varieties such as:
  • Mackerel.
  • Albacore tuna.
  • Salmon.
  • Sardines.
  • Atlantic herring.
  • Swordfish.
  • Lake trout.
To enjoy these nutritional benefits of seafood, make fish a regular part of your eating style. Try to eat seafood, including fatty fish, two to three times a week.
Good sources of omega-3 fatty acid include:
  • Salmon (fresh or canned), herring, lake trout, mackerel, and sardines
  • Soybeans and soybean oil
  • Walnuts and walnut oil
  • Flaxseeds (ground) and flaxseed oil
  • Foods fortified with omega-3 fatty acid

Continue Learning about Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Omega 3 Fatty Acids

Fish oils, grains and lamb are good sources of Omega 3 fatty acid, a nutrient that has a lot of buzz as being beneficial in the reduction of coronary artery disease. It's also been linked in studies to helping sufferers of rheumat...

oid arthritis. Flaxseed oil is another good source of this acid. Much research is being done on this nutrient, assisted by the fact that the Japanese diet typically has 10 times or more of the nutrient than the American diet. Some studies have also shown a reduction in colon cancer related to Omega 3 fatty acid consumption. Not everyone is able to reap the same benefits from Omega 3's however - one study shows that women with type 1 diabetes do not have a reduction in coronary artery disease with a diet high in this ingredient.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.