Omega-3 fatty acids have various benefits for your body and brain.
Many mainstream health organizations recommend a minimum of 250–500 mg of omega-3s per day for healthy adults (, , 3).
You can get high amounts of omega-3 fats from fatty fish, algae and several high-fat plant foods.
Here is a list of 12 foods that are very high in omega-3.
Mackerel are small, fatty fish.
In Western countries, they are commonly smoked and eaten as whole fillets.
On top of that, these fish are delicious and require little preparation.
Omega-3 content: 4,107 mg in one piece of salted mackerel, or 5,134 mg per 3.5 ounces (100 grams) (4).
Salmon is one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet.
Studies show that people who regularly eat fatty fish, such as salmon, have a lower risk of diseases like heart disease, dementia and depression (, , , ).
Omega-3 content: 4,023 mg in half a fillet of cooked, farmed Atlantic salmon, or 2,260 mg in 3.5 ounces (100 grams) (5).
Cod liver oil is more of a supplement than a food.
As the name implies, it is oil extracted from the livers of cod fish.
Therefore, taking just one tablespoon of cod liver oil more than satisfies your need for three incredibly important nutrients.
However, don't take more than one tablespoon at a time, because too much vitamin A can be harmful.
Omega-3 content: 2,664 mg per tablespoon (11).
Herring is a medium-sized, oily fish. It is often cold-smoked, pickled or precooked, then sold as a canned snack.
Smoked herring is a popular breakfast food in countries like England, where it’s served with eggs and called kippers.
Omega-3 content: 3,181 mg per fillet of raw Atlantic herring, or 1,729 mg per 3.5 ounces (100 grams) (12).
Shellfish are among the most nutritious foods you can eat.
Oysters are usually eaten as an appetizer, snack or whole meal. Raw oysters are a delicacy in many countries.
Omega-3 content: 565 mg in 6 raw, eastern oysters, or 672 mg per 3.5 ounces (100 grams) (13).
Sardines are very small, oily fish that are commonly eaten as a starter, snack or delicacy.
They’re highly nutritious, especially when eaten whole. They contain almost every nutrient your body needs.
Omega-3 content: 2,205 mg per cup (149 grams) of canned Atlantic sardines, or 1,480 mg per 3.5 ounces (100 grams) (15).
Anchovies are tiny, oily fish often bought dried or canned.
Usually eaten in very small portions, anchovies can be rolled around capers, stuffed in olives or used as pizza and salad toppings.
Because of their strong taste, they are also used to flavor many dishes and sauces, including Worcestershire sauce, remoulade and Caesar dressing.
Omega-3 content: 951 mg per can (2 ounces, or 45 grams) of European anchovies, or 2,113 mg per 3.5 ounces (100 grams) (16).
Caviar consists of fish eggs, also called roe.
Widely regarded as a luxurious food item, caviar is most often used in small quantities as a starter, taster or garnish.
Omega-3 content: 1,086 mg per tablespoon (14.3 grams), or 6,789 mg per 3.5 ounces (100 grams) (17).
Flaxseeds are small brown or yellow seeds. They are often ground, milled or used to make oil.
These seeds are by far the richest whole-food source of the omega-3 fat alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Therefore, flaxseed oil is often used as an omega-3 supplement.
A standard 1-ounce (28-gram) serving of chia seeds contains 4 grams of protein, including all eight essential amino acids.
Omega-3 content: 4,915 mg per ounce (28 grams) (22).
Make sure not to remove the skin, as it packs most of walnuts’ phenol antioxidants — which offer important health benefits.
Omega-3 content: 2,542 mg per ounce (28 grams), or about 7 walnuts (23).
Soybeans are a good source of fiber and vegetable protein.
They also contain high amounts of other nutrients, including riboflavin, folate, vitamin K, magnesium and potassium (24).
However, soybeans are also very high in omega-6 fatty acids, so they should not be relied on as a sole omega-3 source.
Studies suggest that eating too much omega-6 may cause inflammation ().
Omega-3 content: 1,241 mg in a 1/2 cup (86 grams) of dry roasted soybeans, or 1,443 mg per 3.5 ounces (100 grams) (24).
Keep in mind that sections 1–8 discuss foods that contain the omega-3 fats EPA and DHA, which are found in some animal foods, seafood and algae.
Conversely, sections 9–12 handle foods that provide the omega-3 fat ALA, which is inferior to the other two.
Although not as high in omega-3 as the foods above, many other foods have decent amounts.
These include pastured eggs, omega-3-enriched eggs, meats and dairy products from grass-fed animals, hemp seeds and vegetables like spinach, Brussels sprouts and purslane.
As you can see, it’s relatively easy to obtain plenty of omega-3s from whole foods.
Omega-3s provide numerous benefits to your body, such as fighting inflammation, Alzheimer's disease and cancer.
However, if you don't eat many of these foods and think you may be lacking in omega-3s, consider taking omega-3 supplements.