Omega-3 fatty acids are considered essential because our bodies cannot make them and therefore, we must obtain them from our diets. They are necessary for energy, growth, activities in body cells, and muscle activity. Three fatty acids classified as omega-3 are: alpha linolenic acid (LNA), eicosapentenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexenoic acid (DHA). LNA is found in tofu, soybean, canola oil and nuts. Once in our bodies, LNA can be converted to EPA and DHA. We also can get EPA and DHA directly from our diet, from fish sources.
We know that EPA and DHA lower blood triglyceride levels, especially in people who have high triglyceride levels. Studies have also shown that fish oil consumption can result in small reductions in blood pressure in individuals with high blood pressure (no effect was seen in individuals with normal blood pressure). Omega-3s have been promoted to prevent heart disease; however, there is no convincing role for the supplements in prevention.
Unfortunately, we have no idea what the safe, optimal dose is for healthy individuals. Health professionals recommend fish oil capsules only for patients with high blood triglycerides. For those who wish to increase their intake of the omega-3s, eat fish sources 2-3 times weekly.
Fish containing omega-3 fatty acids
These fish contain 1 gram or more omega-3s per 3.5 ounces raw:
These fish contain 0.5 to 0.9 grams omega-3s per 3.5 ounces raw: