Fish: A Natural Source of Omega-3s

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Filed Under: Heart Health, Food and Nutrition
Last Reviewed 07/06/2015

Salmon is one of the best natural sources of omega-3s.

Learn why the omega-3 benefits of fish make it a cornerstone of my eating plan for optimal health.

I have followed the research on fish as a cardio-protective and anti-aging agent for 30 years. What makes fish so important to any healthy heart nutrition plan is the fact that it is a natural source of omega-3 benefits, as well as omega-6 fatty acids.

As you may know, both omega-3 and omega-6 are called essential fatty acids (EFAs) because they are necessary for life itself. Our bodies can’t manufacture EFAs, but you can get them through the food you eat. Omega-6 EFAs occur naturally in almost all nuts and seeds, and are abundant in vegetable oils, including safflower, sunflower, corn, and soy.

Omega-3 benefits are a bit more challenging to get from food because there are few original sources. The best sources for omega-3s are flaxseed, hemp, pumpkin seed oils, dark leafy green vegetables, walnuts, tofu, and fish. 

The source I prefer above all others is fish, especially salmon. Fish convert the omega-3 building block, linolenic acid, into two highly beneficial end products for our bodies: EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) omega-3s. EPA and DHA are great for rejuvenating the body at the cellular level, with DHA omega-3 benefits providing the most support for heart health. 

The chart below shows the amount of omega-3 fatty acids in some of the most popular fish to eat:

Fish

Grams of EFAs

Salmon* 2.5
Halibut* 0.67
Trout (sea)* 0.58
Pacific Mackerel* 2.07
Flounder/Sole* 0.56
Whitefish* 2.06
Alaskan King Crab* 0.46
Coho Salmon* 1.87
Canned Crab* 0.36
Shrimp* 0.35
Sockeye Salmon* 1.42
Yellow Fin Tuna** 0.31
Atlantic Mackerel 1.42
Haddock* 0.27
Oysters (eastern) 1.25
Light Tuna (canned in oil, drained)** 0.20
Swordfish** 1.06
Atlantic Cod * 0.17
Tuna (canned in water, drained)** 0.95
Lobster (northern)* 0.09

* These fish are safe to eat two or three times a week.
** These fish are safe to eat once a month.

I encourage you, just as I encourage my private patients, to eat fish as often as possible, but please govern yourself according to the guidelines I’ve shared in this chart. While fish is a “wonder food” in my book, you must be careful to eat the right type of fish.

Of course, if you are not a fan of fish, omega-3 supplements are an equally good source of omega-3 benefits. Algae and calamari oil supplements have higher DHA than most fish oil supplements. There are other algae and calamari oil benefits: they are sustainably sourced and carry less risk of mercury or other contaminants compared to some fish oils. 

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DISCLAIMER: The content of DrSinatra.com is offered on an informational basis only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the guidance of a qualified health provider before making any adjustment to a medication or treatment you are currently using, and/or starting any new medication or treatment. All recommendations are "generally informational" and not specifically applicable to any individual's medical problems, concerns and/or needs.

 
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