15 Best Omega 3 Rich Foods (Easily Available , Tasty, Veg & Non-Veg)
Many times professional dietitians suggest us to “Eat Fat to Lose Fat”. But the question is which Fats are good for health and which are not? Fatty acids are of two kinds- essential fatty acids and non-essential fatty acids. Essential fatty acids are so called because the body cannot produce it on its own and hence, have to be externally administered (1). Omega-3 fatty acid is one such essential fatty acid, and hence we should be careful so as to intake an optimum amount of omega 3 rich foods, for the proper functioning of the body. In this post, we have shared about 15 healthy foods which are rich in Omega 3 Fatty Acids.
What is Omega-3 Fatty Acid
Omega-3s are, as previously stated, essential fatty acids, they are of three different kinds- alpha-linolenic acid(ALA), docosahexaenoic acid(DHA), eicosapentaenoic acid(EPA). The ideal source of omega-3, for the human body, is DHA and EPA. These are found abundantly in seafood like Salmon and Sardines (2). ALA is found in plant-based sources like some nuts and seeds. Omega-3s are now being artificially added to processed food like peanut butter, cereals, baby food and protein powders. It is still better to find sources of a fresh produce. Our body changes the ALA into usable DHA and EPA, but it is most efficient to get DHA and EPA directly from food sources like wild caught fish. Omega-3s are now being administered into animal feed to incorporate higher degrees of omega-3s into dairy products, poultry products, and meat (3).
It has been found, based on chronology, that cultures that have relied heavily on omega-3 foods have lived a longer and healthier life. Some of these are the populations of Okinawa, Japan, Spain, Greece, Turkey, and France. The Okinawa diet, which is an Omega-3 fatty acid rich diet, consists of consumption of plenty of fish, vegetables, and fresh produce. This diet is almost eight times richer in omega-3s than in a typical American diet (4).
Omega-3 Requirements and Benefits
Omega-3s are important in several body functions and their benefits have been established widely. Omega-3s are important in cardiovascular health for lowering blood pressure and cholesterol. It plays important role in stabilizing blood pressure, reducing blood sugar levels and bone and joints pains. It also helps in sharpening the mind and helping in concentration in higher-order mental activities. Omega 3 is needed in boosting immunity and treating digestive disorders and even reducing the risks of cancer and improving the appearance of skin (5).
In order to get an adequate amount of omega-3s into the body, it is recommended to eat a good amount of omega-3 rich food and also taking supplements. It is important to get t least 1000 milligrams a day of EP or DHA and 4000 milligrams of total omega-3s, that includes ALA, EPA, and DHA, combined. The best sources of omega-3s are Atlantic Mackerel (6982mgs in 1 cup), Salmon fish oil (4767mgs in 1 tablespoon), Cod liver oil (2664mgs in 1 tablespoon), Walnuts (2664mgs in ¼ cups) and Chia seeds (2457mgs in 1 tablespoon) among others.
Omega-3 Rich Foods
1. Eggs (225mg per egg)
Eggs are few of those foods with the most nutritional value. They contain proteins, vitamins, antioxidants and a fat-fighting nutrient that is called choline. Eggs contain omega-3 that are laid by hens that are fed chia seeds, flax seeds, fish oil or other omega 3 rich foods. Eggs are superior as they control the risks of heart diseases and prove major benefits for eye health.
2. Flaxseeds (7300mgs in 1 tablespoon)
Flaxseed is the richest known source of omega-3. They are thought to be superfoods due to their high nutritional value. While the whole flaxseeds are actually very high in omega-3s, their hard exterior makes it difficult to digest them. It prevents them from being of any nutritional value at all. The ground version of flaxseed, often known as “flax meal” is a preferred version.
Good amount of nutrients can also be received by just drizzling some flaxseed oil in a salad or so. Studies have found that flaxseeds are helpful in fighting cardiovascular symptoms like hypertension. These small seeds are also helpful in fighting cancer, promoting weight loss and often reducing sugar cravings. Flax seeds is one of the best omega 3 rich foods.
3. Walnuts (2664mgs in ¼ cups)
Walnuts pack the highest amount of omega-3 when compared to all other nuts. They are extremely beneficial because they contain disease-fighting antioxidants. This nut is highly important in preventing heart diseases. They are helpful in reducing the blood pressure and decrease the levels of inflammation in the blood vessels during periods of stress and tension. Walnuts can be tossed into any baked dishes or sprinkled onto a salad. Along with the vascular benefits, walnuts also help to achieve the ideal weight over time.
4. Spinach (352mg in ½ cup, cooked)
It has immense health benefits as it has only 40 calories in a cooked cup. Spinach is rich in Vitamin E. It is also full of compounds betaine and choline which work together to turn off fat storing genes. It, in turn, helps you to gain less fat. Thylakoids, which are plant structures along the leaf membranes, are powerful appetite suppressants. It has been experimentally proven that the people who consume a breakfast smoothie with spinach thylakoids or any spinach containing item had lesser cravings and lost 5.5 pounds, on an average. Spinach is one of the best omega 3 rich foods.
5. Red Lentils- (480mg in one cup, raw)
Lentils are cheap dietary products, that have an expert ability to boost fat metabolism and regulate appetite. The weight loss benefits of red lentils can be attributed to resistant starch. It is a form of slow-digesting fiber that helps in releasing acetate, that signals the brain when it’s time to stop eating. It has been found that on an average, about 31 percent of individuals felt fuller after consuming about ¾ cups of lentils on a daily basis over a control group.
6. Mustard Seeds (230mgs in 1 tablespoon)
A single teaspoon of mustard seed contains over a milligram of omega-3s. Mustard seeds have a high potential for fat burning and are essential for the body. In an experiment conducted by the scientists at the Oxford Polytechnic Institute of England have found that a single teaspoon of hot mustard oil was enough to increase the metabolic rate by 25 percent even after several hours of the last food intake.
The health loss benefits of mustard oil have been attributed to allyl isothiocyanates. It is the compound that gives mustard oil it’s characteristic odour and flavour. Mustard seed can be administered to food by simply grinding it and sprinkling it on food like any seasoning.
Here is a good informative video from Ventuno Diet
7. Chia Seeds (2457mgs in one tablespoon)
Chia seeds are of extreme nutritional value as they contain not only omega-3s but also vitamins, minerals as well as dietary fibers. As they are loaded with essential nutrients like protein calcium and magnesium, intake of chia seeds, lower the risks of type-2 diabetes.
They are also known to improve exercise performance and provide mental health benefits. These nutty tasting seeds can be added to salads, smoothies, any breakfast recipes and stir-fried veggies to ensure proper administration of daily quota of chia seeds.
8. Cheese (448mgs in 2 ounce of serving)
Recent research at trusted labs suggests that high-fat products like cheese, ghee etc may help reduce the risk of obesity. It has been experimentally verified that a group of cheese-eaters lost more fat in the abdominal region over a control group that took calcium supplements. There was also a higher level of a fatty acid, called butyrate in the cheese-eating group which has been proven to improve fat metabolism. Cheese, especially fontina cheese is rich in omega-3s are high on such dietary values. It is one of the best omega 3 rich foods.
9. Soybeans (1190mgs of ALA in a cup)
Not many are aware of the health benefits of Soybeans. Soybeans have a high percentage of ALA that improves heart health. A bowl of lightly cooked Soybeans has more omega-3s than animal sources like some cold water fish.
10. Sardines (1363mgs in 1 can or 3.75lbs)
These fish are small, oily and less expensive. These are higher in sodium and balance out meals of low sodium intake like that of fruits and vegetables. They are usually consumed from cans as a snack, however, they can also be enjoyed in sandwiches or salads.
11. Salmon (1716mgs in 3oz)
Salmons is also rich in Vitamin D, protein and phosphorous. Salmons contain high degrees of omega-3s like EPA and DHA. These good fats provide cardiovascular ease for you like reducing inflammation. Eating salmon twice or thrice a week, lowers the risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, arrhythmia and embolism.
12. Mackerel (6982mgs in a cup)
These are small and oily fish that are great in taste and also has good nutritional value. It is not only rich in omega-3 fats but also has a good content of nutrients and Vitamin B6 and Vitamin B12.
13. Cod Liver Oil (2664mgd in 1 tablespoon)
Cod liver oil is extracted from the livers of Atlantic cod and is generally taken as a dietary supplement. It is one of the best-known sources of omega-3 fatty acids, especially EPA and DHA. It also contains a high level of vitamins A and D.
14. Herrings (1885mgs in 3oz)
Herrings are rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids. It is also a good way of acquiring vitamin D, vitamin B12, vitamin B2 and also vitamin B3. It is also rich in selenium, potassium and iron.
15. Winter Squash (332mgs in a cup, baked)
A cup of winter squash provides one-third of what is regarded as a good amount of vitamin C intake for a day. This enables the body to burn through fat faster. One study that was conducted by researchers at the Arizona State University showed a direct relationship between deficiency of vitamin C and increased body fat.
Due to the plethora of health benefits of omega-3 fatty acid, it is considered as a “good fat”. Deficiency of omega-3s may lead to arthritis, allergies, digestive disorder inflammation and poor brain development, it is hence of great importance to plan a diet that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. However, consuming omega-3 rich foods may cause side effects like diarrhoea, nausea, allergic reactions and changes in blood sugar level, which should be dealt, with the help of a medical professional.