Category Archives: Sources of Omega 3

The Best Sources of Omega 3 – Compare Omega 3-Rich Fish

best source of omega 3

If you’re looking to get the biggest Omega 3 health boost you can from your diet, you ought to be aware of the richest sources of these fatty acids. However, before we get into the best sources of Omega 3, remember that this term encompasses three types of long-chain fatty acids, all considered “Omega 3” fats: 1) alpha-linolenic acid (“ALA”), docosahexaenoic acid (“DHA”), and eicosapentaenoic acid (“EPA”).

While some may claim that the type of Omega 3 is immaterial, they’d be wrong. As we discuss, the distinction matters.

Plant vs. Animal Omega 3 Fats – i.e., ALA vs. EPA and DHA

Understandably there are many people who are, for one reason or another, averse to eating animal products of any kind, and prefer to get their Omega 3 through such vegetable sources, such as several types of leafy greens (e.g., kale and spinach) or superfood seeds, like flax or chia.

Sounds good…but there’s a wrinkle.

It’s true that both of these seeds provide a rich source of Omega 3; however, they, like all other plant sources, only provide ALA, not EPA or DHA. And while it’s also true that ALA is broken down by the body into EPA and DHA, the reality is that this conversion process is slow and extremely inefficient. In fact, once clinical study put the ultimate yield of EPA and DHA from ALA in the neighborhood of 6% and 3.8%, respectively. Furthermore, the study suggested that conversion of ALA to EPA and DHA was hampered even further, by roughly 45%, for those with a diet relatively rich in Omega 6 (which is typical for most people).

In other words, if you want the myriad of benefits associated with EPA and DHA, don’t look for Omega 3 in plant sources!

Compare Fish Sources of EPA & DHA: Use Our Comparison Matrix!

The most bang for your buck in terms of getting your EPA/DHA fix is to regularly consume fatty fish. It is generally recommended that adults (non-pregnant) consume a minimum of two (3 oz) servings of omega-3-rich fish each week.

To help you choose your fish wisely, we’ve prepared the following chart of fish species and their respective EPA and DHA content to help boost your Omega 3 levels in short order. Note that it is generally advised to avoid consuming swordfish, tilefish, king mackerel, and shark given their relatively high risk for mercury contamination.

This chart is sortable – just click on the column headings to sort by variable!

Species
EPA*
DHA*
Lake trout0.571.25
Mackerel (Atlantic)0.101.81
Salmon (Atlantic, farmed)0.681.36
Herring (Pacific)1.130.79
Herring (Atlantic)0.791.02
Tuna (bluefin)0.451.36
Sturgeon (Altlantic)1.130.57
Salmon (chinook)0.910.68
Anchovy (European)0.571.02
Tuna (albacore)0.341.13
Whitefish0.341.13
Salmon (coho, farmed)0.450.91
Bluefhish (Atlantic)0.450.91
Salmon (sockeye)0.570.79
Salmon (pink)0.450.68
Sardines (canned)0.450.68
Salmon (chum)0.450.68
Halibut (Greenland)0.570.45
Bass (striped)0.230.68
Smelt0.340.23
Pollock0.110.45
Trout (rainbow)0.110.45
Halibut (Pacific)0.110.34
Catfish (channel)0.110.23
Cod (Atlantic)0.230.34
Flounder0.110.23
Grouper (red)0.000.23
Haddock0.110.11
Snapper0.000.23
*EPA/DHA reported in grams per 4 ounce serving of edible fish.

Table data source: http://seafood.oregonstate.edu/.pdf%20Links/Omega-3%20Content%20in%20Fish.pdf

Remember When Enjoying Omega Rich Fish…

Preparing fish is obviously a matter of taste; however, it’s a good idea to opt for grilled or baked fish, rather than fried. In addition, take care not to overdo it with the condiments – you don’t want to nullify the benefits of Omega 3 rich fish by consuming a ton of saturated fats!

Featured (top) image credit: “Salmon on Ice” by Sharon Mollerus under CC BY 2.0

So What Is Krill Oil & Why Is It Special?

what is krill oil

So what is krill oil?

It’s a common question that comes up when people start researching the various sources of Omega 3 fatty acids and the benefits of krill oil vs. fish oil. Krill oil is believed to be very similar to fish oil in that it packs lots of Omega 3 and its constituent long chain fatty acids, namely EPA and DHA. However, krill and fish are, quite literally, different animals. Find out more about krill and why the oil derived from them may be safer than that obtained from fish sources.

What the heck are krill?

The common term “krill” is used to refer to tiny marine shrimp (arthropods), typically those in the genus Euphausia, which holds the largest number of krill species and includes the two most commercially important and wide-ranging members of the group, Euphausia superba, the Antarctic krill, and Euphausia pacifica, the Northern krill.

Krill swarms have been harvested commercially for a variety of products since the 1960s, mainly for aquaculture and a cheap source of fish food in the western world, yet they have always been a staple in the diet of many peoples and other animals, including small fish, penguins, seals and even the largest mammals in the world – the baleen whales.

Why it’s good that krill are low on the food chain

One of the most important aspects of krill biology, besides their Omega 3 content, is where they lie on the trophic ladder – i.e., the food chain. Unlike most Omega 3 rich fish, such as salmon, krill feed on the the tiniest of marine animals, which compose the first link in the food chain. We are talking about plankton. As they perform daily vertical migrations through the water column, krill filter feed through the water column with modified legs to capture these microscopic (or nearly microscopic) organisms. Indeed, at a total body length of roughly a half inch, there’s really nothing else a krill can overpower!

The good news is that being relegated to the low end of the food chain means there is little risk of the biomagnification of chemical contaminants, such as mercury and polychlorinated biphenyls (“PCBs”). Biomagnification occurs when small organisms, such plankton and small invertebrates, ingest or otherwise take up a toxic material and are then eaten by larger organisms, which are then eaten by still larger organisms. At each step up the chain, the amount of these toxins increases in predators as they consume and sequester all of the chemicals contained in their prey items. This explains why swordfish and shark meat is on the EPA’s list of items women should not consume during pregnancy. Krill, on the other hand, don’t biogmagnify toxins like fish do since they feed primarily on the planktonic level, and no higher.

Featured (top) photo credit: “A Northern krill (Meganyctiphanes norvegica)” by Øystein Paulsen, Wikimedia Commons under CC Attribution-Share Alike 3.0