Omega-3 Fatty Acids – Benefits, Foods, and Supplements

Omega-3 Fatty Acids – Benefits, Foods, and Supplements


Are You Getting Enough Omega-3’s in Your Diet?

There are two groups of fats that our bodies can’t make, omega-6’s and omega-3’s. These two groups have very different properties. Most omega-6 fats promote inflammation, while omega-3’s decrease it.

For that reason, taking more omega-3’s might help prevent or treat health problems that are associated with inflammation.

Our ancestors probably ate about the same amounts of omega-3’s as omega-6’s. Now on average we eat about 25 times more omega 6’s than omega 3’s. Fast foods, partially hydrogenated fats, most meats, and dairy products can all increase the inflammation in our bodies. ?

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Sardines in Olive Oil is a Staple in my Diet. Yum!

What Are Omega-3 Fatty Acids — DHA, EPA, and ALA?

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) defines Omega-3 as follows:

“Omega-3 fatty acids are found in foods, such as fish and flaxseed, and in dietary supplements, such as fish oil.

The three main omega-3 fatty acids are alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). ALA is found mainly in plant oils such as flaxseed, soybean, and canola oils. DHA and EPA are found in fish and other seafood.

ALA is an essential fatty acid, meaning that your body can’t make it, so you must get it from the foods and beverages you consume.

Your body can convert some ALA into EPA and then to DHA, but only in very small amounts. Therefore, getting EPA and DHA from foods (and dietary supplements if you take them) is the only practical way to increase levels of these omega-3 fatty acids in your body.” ?

Do I Have an Omega-3 Deficiency?

Since we do have to get our Omega-3’s from food and supplements, it is possible to develop an insufficiency.

10 Signs You Have An Omega-3 Deficiency

1. Depression
2. Inflammation and Arthritis
3. Weight gain
4. Heart disease
5. Difficulty learning
6. Unhealthy skin
7. Memory loss
8. Inhibited immune system functions
9. Fatigue
10. Eyesight problems

What Are the Benefits Of Omega-3 Fatty Acids and What Do They Do?

Since Omega-3 fatty acids are so incredibly important to our health, there have been many scientific studies on the benefits and use of this essential nutrient.

17 Science-Based Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

1. Omega-3s Can Fight Depression and Anxiety
2. Omega-3s Can Improve Eye Health
3. Omega-3s Can Promote Brain Health During Pregnancy and Early Life
4. Omega-3s Can Improve Risk Factors For Heart Disease
5. Omega-3s Can Reduce Symptoms of ADHD in Children
6. Omega-3s Can Reduce Symptoms of Metabolic Syndrome
7. Omega-3s Can Fight Inflammation
8. Omega-3s Can Fight Autoimmune Diseases
9. Omega-3s Can Improve Mental Disorders
10. Omega-3s Can Fight Age-Related Mental Decline and Alzheimer’s Disease
11. Omega-3s May Help Prevent Cancer
12. Omega-3s Can Reduce Asthma in Children
13. Omega-3s Can Reduce Fat in The Liver
14. Omega-3s May Improve Bone and Joint Health
15. Omega-3s Can Alleviate Menstrual Pain
16. Omega-3 Fatty Acids May Improve Sleep
17. Omega-3 Fats Are Good For Your Skin

What Are Omega-3 Fatty Acids Benefits for Rheumatoid Arthritis Sufferers?

The benefits of Omega-3 for rheumatoid arthritis sufferers has yet to be proven.

However, studies have shown that it can help in preventing the disease as well as easing the symptoms of arthritis and joint pain.

There’s also no question that Omega-3 can help tame inflammation in your body. ?

Fish oil for arthritis

The Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids for Arthritis —
Omega-3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation throughout the body, and some studies have shown benefits for heart health, brain function and diabetes.

Omega-3 helps ward off rheumatoid arthritis —
People who are predisposed to develop RA are less likely to develop it if they have been taking omega-3 fish oil and supplements, say researchers.


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Fish oil & Omega-3 Benefits for RA — —
Getting the right amount of fish oil and omega-3 fatty acids may help your rheumatoid arthritis. Get tips on getting the right amount from the right food.

How Can You Get Omega-3 Fatty Acids Naturally?

It is always a great idea to try to get what your body needs by eating a healthy diet. However, it is often challenging to get enough omega-3 fats.

Foods high in omega-3 fats include fish that live in cold water (such as salmon, herring, sardines), walnuts, ground flaxseed, and leafy green vegetables.

Unfortunately, most people do not get enough of these foods to balance out the omega-6 fats they eat. Because fish often contain dangerous levels of mercury and other chemicals, supplements may be a safer option.

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The Right (And Wrong) Way to Get Your Omega-3’s —
Check out a nutritionist’s tips for incorporating these essential fatty acids into your diet.

What Are the Foods Highest in Omega-3?

Check out these great food lists of Omega-3 rich foods, including their ALA/DHA/EPA breakdown. Then pick at least 3 to include in your weekly meal planning!

Top 10 Foods Highest in Omega 3 Fatty Acids

#1: Flaxseed Oil (Cold Pressed)
#2: Fish Oil (Salmon)
#3: Chia Seeds
#4: Walnuts & Walnut Oil (Walnuts)
#5: Fish Roe (Caviar)
#6: Cured & Canned Fish (Smoked Salmon)
#7: Fish (Mackerel)
#8: Seafood (Oysters)
#9: Soybeans (Roasted)
#10: Spinach (Cooked, Boiled)

What Are Omega-3 Recipes Ideas?

There are plenty of delicious recipe ideas for incorporating more Omega-3 rich foods into your diet (and they are not just fish recipes)! ?‍?

Roast salmon and broccoli with chile caper vinaigrette

20 Recipes Full of Omega-3 Fatty Acids Recipe | Bon Appetit —
From salmon to mackerel to kale, 20 recipes that are rich with Omega-3 fatty acids.

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21 OMG Omega-3 Recipes —
OMG! When it comes to healthy foods that change how the body works & feels, ingredients with omega-3 fatty acids are tops — here are 21 omega-3 recipes.


10 Healthy Vegan Omega 3-Rich Recipes — One Green Planet —
Lucky for us, plant-based foods are packed with omega-3 fats, so eat up as many of them as you can so you can get the benefits. Here are 10 recipes to get you started, all fish-free and 100 percent delicious!

How Can Vegans Get Omega-3 Fatty Acids and What are Fish Oil Alternatives for Vegetarians?


Algal Oil: A Vegetarian Source of Omega-3’s and DHA — Dr. Axe —

We know omega-3’s are crucial to our health. It turns out, algal oil is an even safer source of omega-3’s and DHA than fish oil. Here are the benefits of algal oil.

If you are vegetarian or vegan you still have plenty of food and supplement choices to get your omega-3’s.

Best food sources of vegan omega 3

Flax Seeds
Chia Seeds
Hemp Seeds
Mustard Oil
Winter squash
Leafy Greens
Cabbage Family
Wild Rice
Herbs and Spices
Honeydew Melon

Omega 3 sources

Benefits of Vegan Omega 3 EPA DHA Sources vs. Fish Oil —
There are vegetarian EPA and DHA supplements. Here’s a look at how their health benefits compare to omega 3 foods and fish oil sources.

How Much Omega-3 to Take (Recommended Dosage)?

I leave the answer to that question up to the experts…

Check out this chart by NIH based on age and gender for the recommended dose of omega-3 intake.

Daily dose of dha

Daily Dose of DHA — David Perlmutter M.D. —
For me, one of the most important omega-3 fats is Docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, and that’s why fish oil or algae-derived DHA is so important.

You may also be interested in this article from Harvard Medical School, answering the question: “What is the upper limit for omega-3 fats?”

What Are the Potential Dangers and Side Effects of Omega-3 Consumption?

Dr. Axe has this to say about eventual side effects of consuming Omega-3 rich foods or taking supplements:

“Omega-3 is considered very safe and effective, even when taking up to 20 grams at a time, but some people experience mild side effects when taking omega-3 fish oil supplements. ?

Some side effects that can occur from omega-3 fish oil include:

  • “Fish burps” or a fishy taste in your mouth (this is definitely the biggest complaint but shouldn’t happen if you take a high-quality supplement)
  • Stomach pains or nausea
  • Trouble going to the bathroom normally (diarrhea)
  • Potential for excess bleeding if you take more than three grams per day
  • Allergic reactions
  • Changes in blood sugar levels (or complications with diabetes medications)”

What Are the Best Omega-3 DHA Supplements?

Here are Wellness Mama’s Fish Oil Criteria:

“Searching for an Omega-3 supplement should always meet the following criteria:

  • Natural Triglyceride form of Omega-3
  • Concentrated doses of EPA and DHA
  • Sustainably sourced (krill oil populations are declining so I prefer sources like anchovy or sardine which are more sustainable)
  • Free of contaminants and heavy metals
  • At least 2 grams of concentrated Omega-3s without having to swallow a handful of pills”
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And here’s a more in-depth study on criteria for selection and the best tested Omega-3 Supplements (including the one featured above):

Most Fish Oil is Garbage — Our Guide to Finding Quality Omega-3 Supplements
Most fish oil supplements contain more toxins than healthy fats. Check out our guide, based on an insider interview, to finding quality omega 3 supplements.


About the Author

Leveraging her 40+ years in health & fitness as well as the latest biohacking and longevity breakthroughs, Peak Performance Coach, Biggi Fraley, helps you remain healthy, fit, and active so that you can age gracefully, stay independent, and embark on exciting new chapters in life.