5 Foods That Are High In Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in fatty fish (Image via Unsplash/David B Townsend)
Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in fatty fish. (Image via Unsplash/David B Townsend)

Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA). The most important among these fatty acids are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and their chemical precursor alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).

They're required to synthesize signaling molecules called eicosanoids, which have different roles in the immune, respiratory, cardiovascular, and endocrine systems in the body. They’re also found in cell membranes and inside the brain. Omega-3 fatty acids are good for brain health and memory.

These molecules can regulate blood clotting, arterial contraction, and inflammation. They're widely known to prevent heart disease and strokes. More recent studies indicate that Omega-3 fatty acids might also reduce the risk of cancer.

Dr. James, who is a cardiovascular research scientist, recommends these fatty acids for improved metabolism.


Requirements and Deficiency of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

It's recommended to consume 250–500 mg of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) per day from animal sources. According to the National Institutes of Health, Adequate Intake (AI) from plant-based sources is 1,600 mg for males and 1,100 mg for females.

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A deficiency in these fatty acids can cause:

  • eye dryness
  • eye irritation
  • joint pain
  • hair loss
  • hair thinning
  • dryness of hair
  • inflammation
  • depression
  • risk of Alzheimer’s disease
  • increased risk of dementia
  • increased symptoms of bipolar disorder

As per health authorities, there're no standard tests for diagnosis, but tests related to inflammation can be performed to check the deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids.

Read about the symptoms of omega-3 deficiency.


Best Foods to Get Omega-3 Fatty Acids

The richest source of highly bioavailable Omega-3 fatty acids is marine fatty fish. For vegans and vegetarians, plant-based sources can provide some amount of these fatty acids. The five best foods to include in diet are:

1) Cod liver oil

It's a popular supplement included in diets around the world. Cod liver oil contains 2,438 mg of EPA and DHA (combined) per tablespoon. They're available as capsules and syrups. They're also rich in vitamin A and vitamin D.

A tablespoon contains 170% of the Daily Value of D and 453% of the DV of vitamin A. However, the dosage should not exceed one tablespoon or as prescribed by your dietitian. Cod liver oil is among the six best natural foods for vitamin A deficiency. They can boost immunity and improve bone health.

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2) Salmon

Hundred grams of salmon contains 2,150 mg of EPA and DHA (combined). It's a high-protein food that's also rich in various other vitamins and minerals, including vitamin D, selenium, and B vitamins. Consuming salmon regularly can reduce the risk of heart disease, dementia, and depression.

Check out the health benefits and possible risks of fish oil.


3) Flax seeds

Flax seeds are rich in alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is the precursor of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

They're also an amazing source of retinol, magnesium, manganese, and dietary fiber. Flax seed oil is available in the form of capsules and syrups as well. Flax seeds taste amazing when roasted and added to trail mixes.

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Check out the nutritional facts and health benefits of flax seeds.


4) Walnuts

Walnuts can help lower blood pressure and aid with weight loss. They're low-carb and keto-friendly nuts. They're a rich source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which makes them amazing for vegans and vegetarians. Walnuts can be added to trail mixes. They are known to keep our brain healthy.

Check out the nutritional facts and health benefits of walnuts here.


5) Anchovies

Anchovies are small fish that are rich in various nutrients. Hundred grams of anchovies contain 2,053 mg of EPA and DHA (combined).

They contain healthy fats and are rich in minerals, including calcium, niacin, and selenium. They're used in sauces and flavoring agents such as Worcestershire sauce, remoulade, and Caesar dressing. Anchoview are widely sold as dried or canned.

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Consuming anchovies is one of the six natural ways to lower your cholesterol level.


Takeaway

A deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids can cause various deficiency symptoms, including hair fall, hair thinning, eye dryness, and inflammation.

Including the foods mentioned above can prevent the occurrence of various diseases. Severe deficiencies must be managed with supplementation. Carefully choose your supplement, and follow the dosage instructions on the pack. Supplementation should be done under the supervision of a certified health professional.

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Edited by Bhargav