What is omega-3 and where can I find it?

Omega-3 fatty acids belong to a group of polyunsaturated fats that are essential to human health as the body cannot produce them on its own. It’s therefore important for us to provide our bodies with omega-3 fatty acid ourselves through diets or dietary supplements. Omega-3’s main fatty acids include Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA), Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) and Docosahexanoic Acid (DHA) that work together to correct the imbalances of modern diets that can lead to health problems by providing a multitude of health benefits.

Omega-3 fatty acids are named so because of the position of their first double bond from the methyl end or the omega end of the carbon chain. As its name implies, omega-3 fatty acids have their first double bond in the third position from the end of the chain. As omega-3 fatty acids are classed as polyunsaturated fats, they are placed within the “good fats” that are much healthier than saturated fats. They are also labelled as essential fatty acids (EFA’s) because even though they provide incredible health benefits, our body cannot produce them itself.

There are many different sources that provide omega-3 fatty acids, but the richest source is from fatty or oily cold water fish including:

  • Atlantic salmon
  • Mackerel
  • Herring
  • Anchovies
  • Sardines
  • Bluefin tuna

Because their omega-3 content is so high, it is recommended that we eat at least a couple of portions of oily fish every week to ensure that our bodies are gaining the benefits of these fatty acids. You will also find lower levels of omega-3 in an array of seafood such as cod, scallops, lobster, crab and shrimp.

There are many other fish that are high in omega-3 like shark and swordfish; however their position at the top of the food chain means they accumulate many toxins from any fish they consume.

Cold water fish and seafood are the richest sources of omega-3 fatty acids, however they can also be found in many other sources like nuts and seeds, certain oils, beans and vegetables. Particular sources include:

  • Eggs
  • Wild rice
  • Walnuts
  • Canola oil
  • Flax
  • Beans