Omega-3 Foods: 10 Foods With High Levels of Omega-3
Published by Dr. Venn-Watson
Dr. Eric Venn-Watson’s Highlights
Foods other than fish contain omega-3, but getting them into your diet may be difficult. Using an omega-3 supplement can ensure you get the proper amount of omega-3.
Omega-3 fish oil supplements have side effects and risks you should know about.
Taking a different essential fatty acid, like fatty15,may be a better way to support your long term health and wellness, while reducing unwanted side effects.
You want those omega-3s and know you can get them from food sources. Although fatty, oily fish are the go-to solution for obtaining this fatty acid, there are a plethora of other foods that contain omega-3 fats.
We’ll cover which foods are the best sources of omega-3 and also talk about using an omega-3 supplement. We’ll discuss all the information you need about omega-3 and introduce you to the newest essential fatty acid on the block, C15:0.
How Did Omega-3 Fatty Acids Become Health Supplement VIP?
Over 90 years ago, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids were discovered by a husband and wife research team. Since then, extensive research has been done about the potential benefits of omega-3s for cardiovascular health.
The claims are that the health benefits of omega-3 can support heart health, protects against heart arrhythmias, and at higher doses, could even lower cholesterol and blood pressure.
Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of Americans, so a supplement that shows any promise of protection against it will become a household name. Protecting against the risk of heart disease is the main reason most people begin taking a fish oil supplement.
Before you swallow another fishy tablet, however, you should know that the FDA recommends you get your daily allowance of omega-3 from your diet first. Here, we’ll cover the top 10 sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
10 Foods With High Levels of Omega-3
Are you looking for ways to increase your level of omega-3 naturally? Here are 10 ways to get it on your plate.
This fatty, oily fish is topping the list with over 4,000 mg of omega-3 per serving. A delicacy in many countries, you can enjoy them smoked or broiled.
2. Flaxseed Oil
You’ll get over 2,300mg of omega-3 in one serving of these tiny seeds. Swapping out your traditional cooking oil for flaxseed oil may make it easier to get the omega-3 you want in your diet.
3. Chia Seeds
At over 5,000mg of omega-3 per serving, chia seeds are tiny, blackish-gray seeds that are also an excellent source of protein. Toss them on salads, oatmeal, or yogurt, or blend them into shakes and smoothies.
Hear us out. These little canned fish pack a powerful amount of omega-3 and protein in a tiny serving. You’ll get over 1,000mg of omega-3 in the standard 3.5-ounce tin. If you’ve never tried sardines, give them a go. They make an excellent, healthy snack.
Rethink that unwanted pizza topping if you’re attempting to increase your omega-3 levels. Anchovies contain over 400mg of omega-3 per serving.
6. Canola Oil
Like flaxseed oil, canola oil contains omega-3 fatty acids. You’ll get over 1,000mg per serving and also get some omega-6 linolenic acid as well.
7. Soybean Oil
Soybeans are a good source of omega-3, registering a little over 600mg per serving. However, remember that they are also high in omega-6, which most experts agree isn’t healthful in large amounts.
Don't bypass the oyster bar the next time you head to the coast. Oysters themselves contain about 320 mg of omega-3 per serving.
Edamame is an immature soybean. These beans contain about 280 mg of omega-3 per half cup. Enjoy them boiled or steamed for an omega-3 plant-based alternative.
10. Hemp Seeds
Hemp seeds or hemp seed oil contains 1,000 mg of omega-3 fatty acids per tablespoon. However, hemp seeds only contain one specific omega-3, ALA.
Unless you’re a Mediterranean diet devotee, you might find it challenging to incorporate three servings of fatty fish into your weekly diet. Even if you switch your cooking oil, you still might not get enough omega-3. That’s because the requirement for obtaining the benefits of omega-3 is high.
How Much Omega-3 Do I Need?
Research has continually suggested that for optimum omega-3 benefits, you must take at least 2,000 mg daily. Most people will need between 2,000-3,000 mg per day. It is often difficult to get that much from dietary sources of omega-3, which is why fish oil supplements are now one of the top 10 most popular supplements in the United States.
What Should I Know About Omega-3 Supplements?
The popularity of fish oil supplements makes you feel confident that they’re safe to take, and for the most part, they are. The problem is that omega-3 and fish oil supplements have their own Achilles heel.
Which Omega-3 Fatty Acid Do You Need?
There are three different omega-3 fatty acids, and it’s easy to imagine that all of them are essential. The truth is, they aren’t.
The only essential type of omega-3 that your body needs is alpha-linolenic acid or ALA. This is the only omega-3 considered essential, meaning our bodies need it to thrive but cannot readily make it on their own.
This is interesting because, in the vast majority of studies of omega-3, the most promising heart-health benefits didn’t come from ALA but from eicosapentaenoic acid, or EPA. And then, only the purest, most highly concentrated form of EPA (without the inclusion of DHA, or docosahexaenoic acid, the third form of omega-3) showed protective heart benefits and the ability to support overall health in adults.
Little known fact, fish oil supplements can go rancid, as in, even more rancid than they smell when you first peel off that protective coating under the cap.
Omega-3 is a type of unsaturated fat, which means it is a liquid at room temperature. This means it is subject to lipid peroxidation. Like cooking oil that goes bad when it’s been in your pantry for too long, omega-3 fish oil supplements that have been sitting on a store shelf can go bad, too.
Independent researchers discovered that as many as one in 10 bottles of omega-3 supplements on store shelves are rancid before they’re purchased.
Side Effects of Omega-3
Taking extremely high amounts of omega-3 can produce side effects that may be dangerous for your health. Excessive consumption of omega-3 fatty acids could lead to low blood pressure, thinning of blood, excessive bleeding if an injury occurs, or increased risk of bruising.
Considering that you likely need between 2,000-3,000 mg daily, it could be possible to experience these side effects.
Omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA are integral parts of building cell membranes, but the problem is that they aren’t effective at keeping them strong. Because omega-3 is an unsaturated fatty acid liquid at room temperature, it’s also very pliable. This allows your cells to remain pliable and flimsy, too.
In recent studies, omega-3 was found to be toxic to four out of 12 cell-based systems at the highest doses. Specifically, higher doses of omega-3 were toxic to lung and blood vessel cells.
Another fatty acid, however, was better, broader and safer at protecting our cells, supporting our heart health, and keeping our cell membranes sturdy.
C15:0 — An Upgrade From Omega-3
Although we hear that all saturated fats are bad for us, science now supports that that is not the case.
C15:0, an odd-chain saturated fatty acid, was recently discovered as being essential for our health. It is important to note that an essential fatty acid is one that our bodies cannot make and thus, we must get from our diet. This discovery was published in Nature Scientific Reports in 2020 and makes C15:0 the first essential fatty acid to be discovered since the omegas, 90 years earlier.
Science supports that higher levels of odd-chain saturated fatty acids, and specifically C15:0, are associated with better heart health. There are now calls to action to update current dietary guidelines to differentiate between good and bad saturated fats.
Further, higher levels of C15:0 has been associated with healthy cholesterol and triglyceride levels and improved heart health.*
What C15:0 Does
There are some important benefits of C15:0 you should know:*
- C15:0 is a sturdy fatty acid that integrates into cell membranes, keeping them fortified and strong. As we age, cell membranes can get weaker and increasing our intake of C15:0 can keep our cell membranes functioning properly.
- Cellular homeostasis. C15:0 naturally binds to receptors found throughout our bodies, called PPARs (pronounced pee-pars), that help to regulate our metabolism, including cholesterol and glucose homeostasis.
- Increased mitochondria support. Our mitochondria don't function as well as we age, resulting in increased production of reactive oxygen species. Keeping our mitochondria healthy makes us healthier. C15:0 reduces reactive oxygen species and repairs mitochondrial function for a healthier you!
Skip the Fishy Pills and Get Fatty
You can find C15:0 in a pure, vegan form in one supplement.
Introducing fatty15: the first and only supplement to contain FA15, the pure-powder, vegan-friendly, sustainably-produced, award-winning version of C15:0, the fatty acid that is better at supporting your cellular health than the purest form of omega-3 (EPA).*
Ready to get fatty? Learn more about the science behind this new essential fatty acid here, or dive right in and get started with your fatty15 trial kit here.
Broader and safer clinically-relevant activities of pentadecanoic acid compared to omega-3: Evaluation of an emerging essential fatty acid across twelve primary human cell-based disease systems | PLOS ONE
Eric Venn-Watson M.D.
Senior Scientist, Co-Founder
Eric is a physician, U.S. Navy veteran, and Co-founder and COO of Seraphina Therapeutics. Eric served over 25 years as a Navy and Marine Corps physician, working with the special forces community to improve their health and fitness. Seraphina Therapeutics is a health and wellness company dedicated to advancing global health through the discovery of essential fatty acids and micronutrient therapeutics.
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