Food Sources of Omega-3 Fats

Posted: Dec 06 2013

Information about Omega-3 Fats
 

  • Omega-3 fats have many functions in our body and are important for good health.  There are three kinds of omega-3 fats:
    • ALA (alpha-linolenic acid)
    • DHA (docosahexaenoic acid)
    • EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid).
  • ALA is an essential fat so it must be consumed in the diet.
  • Our bodies can make EPA and DHA from ALA, but this is very limited. Therefore, it is important to include foods rich in DHA and EPA in your diet.

How Much Omega-3 Should I Aim For?


  • The amount of omega-3 fat you need depends on your age and whether you are male or female.
  • Your doctor may recommend more omega-3 fats than what is shown in the chart, if you have heart disease or are at risk for heart disease. Talk to your doctor or dietitian for more information.
Age in Years Aim for an ALA intake of grams (g)/day Stay Below g/day
Men 19 and older 1.6  
No upper limit has been established for ALA.
Women 19 and older 1.1
Pregnant Women 19 and older 1.4
Breastfeeding Women 19 and older 1.3

 
To follow a healthy diet aim for at least 2 servings of fish per week which provides about 0.3-0.45 grams of EPA and DHA per day. 


Omega-3 Fat Content of Some Common Foods

 
ALA is found in certain vegetable oils, walnuts, flaxseeds and soy products. EPA and DHA are found in fish, seafood and fish oils. This table shows you foods which are sources of omega-3 fats.
 

Food Serving size ALA (g) EPA/DHA (g)
Vegetables and Fruit Not a good source of omega-3 fats.
Edamame/baby soybeans, cooked 125 mL (½ cup)   0.29-0.34 0
Radish seeds, sprouted, raw 125 mL (½ cup)   0.42   0
Winter squash, cooked 125 mL (½ cup)   0.18 0
Grain products Products made with flax, soybean or canola oil provide ALA. Some grain products are now enriched with EPA/DHA.  Check food labels for details.
Wheat germ cereal, toasted 30 g    0.24 0
Milk and Alternatives Some dairy products now provide omega-3 fat. Check food labels for details.
Milk, fortified with DHA * 250 mL (1 cup) 0 0.01
Omega-3 soy beverage with flax and algal* 250 mL (1 cup) 0.67 0.03
Omega-3 yogurt * 175 g (¾ cup) 0.46 0
Soy beverage 250 mL (1 cup) 0.19 0
Meat and Alternatives      
Egg Products      
Eggs, cooked   2 eggs   0.06-0.28 0.07
Omega-3 eggs fortified with DHA* 2 eggs 0.50-0.54 0.16-0.27
Fish and Seafood      
Anchovies, canned with oil 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.01 1.54
Arctic char, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.08 0.68
Carp, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.26 0.56
Caviar (black, red), granular 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.01 1.96
Clams, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.01 0.21
Cod, Atlantic, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0 0.11
Cod, Pacific, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.04 0.79
Crab, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.01 0.36
Eel, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.42 0.14
Halibut, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.04-0.06 0.35-0.88
Herring, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.05-0.11 1.6
Lobster, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.01 0.42
Mackerel, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.03-0.08 0.90-1.39
Mackerel, salted 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.12 3.43
Mussels, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.03 0.59
Octopus, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0 0.13
Oysters, Eastern/Blue point, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.04-0.05 0.33-0.41
Oysters, Pacific, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.05 1.04
Pollock, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0 0.40
Salmon, Atlantic, farmed, raw or cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.08-0.11 1.48-1.61
Salmon, Atlantic, wild, raw or cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.22-0.28 1.08-1.38
Salmon, Chinook, raw or cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.06-0.08 1.31-1.47
Salmon, Coho, raw or cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.03-0.05 0.33-0.98
Salmon, pink/humpback, raw, cooked or canned 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.03-0.06 0.96-1.26
Salmon, sockeye/red, raw, cooked or canned 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.05-0.07 0.87-1.06
Sardines, canned 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.17-0.37 0.74-1.05
Scallops, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0 0.27
Shrimp, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.01 0.24
Snapper, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0 0.25
Sole or plaice, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.01 0.37
Tilapia, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.03 0.10
Trout, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.06-0.14 0.65-0.87
Tuna, light, canned with water 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0 0.21
Tuna, white, canned with water 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.05 0.65
Whitefish, cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.17 1.20
Meat Alternatives      
Beans (navy, pinto), cooked 175 mL (¾ cup) 0.17-0.24 0
Peas, black-eyed, cooked 175 mL (¾ cup) 0.11 0
Soybeans, mature, cooked 175 mL (¾ cup) 0.76 0
Tofu, cooked 150 g (¾ cup) 0.27-0.48 0
Meatless (fish sticks, chicken, meatballs), cooked 75 g (2 ½ oz) 0.39-0.78 0
Nuts and Seeds      
Almonds, oil roasted, blanched 60 mL (¼ cup) 0.15 0
Chia seeds 15 mL (1 Tbsp) 1.9 0
Flaxseed, ground** 15 mL (1 Tbsp) 2.46 0
Hickory nuts 60 mL (¼ cup) 0.32 0
Pumpkin seeds, without shell 60 mL (¼ cup) 0.06 0
Pecans 60 mL (¼ cup) 0.25-0.29 0
Soy nuts 60 mL (¼ cup) 0.42 0
Walnuts, black 60 mL (¼ cup 0.64 0
Walnuts, English, Persian 60 mL (¼ cup) 2.30 0
Fats and Oils      
Canola oil 5 mL (1 tsp) 0.42 0
DHA-enriched Omega-3 margarine made with fish oil 5 mL (1 tsp) 0.28 0.03
Flaxseed oil 5 mL (1 tsp) 2.58 0
Omega-3 margarine made with canola oil * 5 mL (1 tsp) 0.34 0
Soybean oil 5 mL (1 tsp) 0.31 0
Walnut oil 5 mL (1 tsp) 0.48 0
Other      
Herring oil supplement 5 mL (1 tsp) 0.04 0.48
Salmon oil supplement 5 mL (1 tsp) 0.05 1.44             
Sardine oil supplement 5 mL (1 tsp) 0.06 0.96
Almond beverage 250 mL (1 cup) 0.10 0
Oat beverage 250 mL (1 cup) 0.30 0

* Amounts vary depending on product
**As a seed, very little of the Omega-3 fat is absorbed because the seed is very hard to digest by the body. Try grinding the flaxseed to improve absorption. 
 
Source: "Canadian Nutrient File 2010"
www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/nutrition/fiche-nutri-data/index-eng.php    [Accessed Dec. 2012]