Here’s the deal: omega-3 fatty acids are kind of awesome. They help prevent cardiovascular disease and arthritis. Here are ten foods high in omega-3 you can eat to ensure you get enough of them:
1. Hemp Seeds
Practically unbeatable as a vegetarian supplement, hemp seeds (1) are jam-packed with nutrients. They contain both Omega-3 and Omega-6 essential fatty acids, not to mention all 9 essential amino acids. Protein comprises 33% of the hemp seed, while omega-3 and 6 fatty acids make up 35% of its content. If you’re concerned about your vitamin D intake, look no further: just 42 grams of hemp seed contains 956 IU of the nutrient.
Among the many benefits of walnuts is their impressive omega-3 content. In fact, just a quarter of a cup provides more than your daily needs for plant-based omega-3 fatty acids. The kind of omega-3 in walnuts is called alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA, and has anti-inflammatory properties. Walnuts contain lots of antioxidants, and may help prevent prostate and breast cancer. Another perk is their l-arginine content, which promotes good heart health.
A single tablespoon of caviar (2) contains one gram of omega-3 fatty acids. It contains various amounts of many vitamins, namely vitamin A, B2, B6, B12, B44, C and D. Whew! As far as minerals go, it contains a good amount of sodium, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium and potassium. Note that caviar contains quite a bit of sodium and cholesterol, so it’s best to limit your intake to 30 to 50 grams per serving.
First thing’s first: cabbage (3) contains 40 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids per serving, complemented by 30.3 milligrams of omega-6 fatty acids—a modest but appreciated addition to any salad. As for its other nutrients, a serving of cabbage will provide you with 20% of your daily vitamin A needs and 85% of your daily vitamin C needs. It is a good source of iron, calcium and magnesium and an even better source of potassium and manganese.
5. Flaxseed Oil
At least half of the content of this oil (4) comes from its omega-3 fatty acids. Fun fact: it’s also an effective natural treatment for constipation. These acids are ALA, which is different from eicosapentaenoic acid, or EPA, and docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA. The latter two types of Omega-3s are found primarily in animal products. While the body does have a mechanism for converting plant based ALA to EPA and DHA, it isn’t all that effective unless you mix in some turmeric.
Perhaps the best known source of omega-3 fatty acids, salmon (5) is a great source of nutrients and good fats. Salmon is one of the most heart healthy fish out there—others, such as farmed tilapia, contain more unhealthy fatty acids. Fish are a rich source of omega-3s, but make sure they aren’t your only source—variety in nutrition is the foundation of a healthy diet.
7. Dried Butternuts
With a whopping 10463 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids per serving of 120 g, dried butternuts (6) are great for anyone looking to improve their heart health. That same serving will also contain 12.5 grams of monounsaturated fat, which promotes healthy cholesterol levels. Magnesium, phosphorus and calcium feature heavily in the nuts’ mineral profile. Its manganese content is insanely high, providing 394% of your daily needs per serving.
If you enjoy the somewhat overpowering aroma of sardines (7), you’re no doubt getting what you pay for. The EPA and DHA in sardines is extremely concentrated, and will help lower your triglyceride and cholesterol levels. These funny little fish are extremely rich in vitamin B12: less than 100 grams provides more than 300% of your daily needs.
They may be disarmingly salty, but they’re also packed with omega-3 goodness. A 20 gram pile of fresh anchovies (8) contains 300 milligrams of omega-3, a significant chunk of your recommended daily intake. According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, weekly consumption of 1-2, 3-ounce servings of oily fish leads to a 36% lower likelihood of dying from heart disease. To top it off, anchovies are also a good source of iron.
10. Chia Seeds
The same seeds that made Chia Pet famous are a natural source of omega-3. Just 1 ounce (28 grams) give you 5 grams of ALA (9). You can easily add these nutty-tasting seeds to just about anything. Try it in smoothies, salads, stir-fries or baked goods.
Omega-3 fatty acids are great. They fight arthritis and freshen up your circulatory system. It’s ideal for your health to get omega-3s from both animal and plant sources, so try mixing it up if it’s consistent with your diet. The benefits of eating foods high in omega-3 are indisputable—so next time you make a trail mix, remember to add some walnuts!