What Is Omega-3 and What Are Good Food Sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids?

By: Amy Paturel, M.S., M.P.H.

5 healthy foods and omega-3 fortified products to help you get more DHA and EPA in your diet.

Omega-3 fats are a nutrient powerhouse, shown to improve heart health and mood. Of the omega-3s, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) are the most impressive. “They are longer than other omega-3s (like alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA), so they make your cell membranes more fluid, which helps brain, eye and nerve cells function better,” says Kantha Shelke, Ph.D., a spokesperson for the Institute of Food Technologists. Yet most Americans only get 100 mg a day of DHA/EPA, far short of the recommended 250 mg. Find out how you can get more.


See How to Eat More Omega-3s

Natural Food Source:
Cold-Water Fish

Where’s the DHA/EPA from? Wild fish make DHA/EPA from the algae they make.
Serving Size: 4 ounces
How Much? 2,085 mg (salmon), 1,110 mg (sardines), 305 mg (light tuna)


See How to Eat More Omega-3s

Natural Food Sources:
Seaweed (nori) & Kelp (wakame, kombu or dulse)

Where’s the DHA/EPA from? Both are algae, which produce some DHA/EPA.
Serving Size: 1 ounce
How Much? 4-134 mg


See How to Eat More Omega-3s

Fortified Food Source: Eggs

Where’s the DHA/EPA from? Chickens turn some of the omega-3s from flaxseed in their feed into DHA/EPA.
Serving Size: 1 large egg
How Much? 30-150 mg omega-3s (some of which is DHA/EPA)


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Fortified Food Source: Milk

Where’s the DHA/EPA from?
Serving Size:How Much? 30-50 mg

Added fish oil (anchovy & sardine) or algal oil. 1 cup


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Fortified Food Source:
Peanut Butter

Where’s the DHA/EPA from? Added fish oil.
Serving Size: 3 tablespoons
How Much? 32 mg


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The Bottom Line

Cold-water fish are the best source. “Nature packages nutrients like DHA/EPA with other substances like fat that facilitate absorption and effectiveness,” says Shelke. Fortified foods or a supplement can help up your intake.