Food with DHA Omega 3 are essential for a healthy diet. They not only offer nutritional benefits, but also confer numerous health benefits to your body such as helping in the prevention of heart diseases and other chronic illnesses.
Food With Dha And Epa
Omega-3s are the cousins of omega-6s — other types of fatty acids that have similar health benefits. However, you get the best benefits from getting adequate levels of both.
Research shows that most people consume about 10 times more omega-6 fats than omega-3s. Try adding a mix of these eight foods to your diet to ensure a healthy balance of essential fats.
1. Flaxseed Oil
One tablespoon of flaxseed oil contains 7.26 grams of the ALA omega-3, more than seven times your daily recommendation. You can get 2.35 grams of omega-3 from a tablespoon of whole flaxseeds as well.
Because flaxseed oil has a low smoke point, cooking it can reduce the nutritional content and may release harmful compounds.
It’s best used in dressings, dips, or smoothies. The seeds are great to add to cereals or baked goods, or you can mix them with water to make a vegetarian egg substitute.
2. Canola Oil
Because flaxseed oil isn’t suitable for cooking, canola oil’s high smoking temperature makes it a great way to add omega-3s to sauteed, fried, or baked dishes. You can use canola oil in place of most other cooking oils and get 1.28 grams of ALA in every tablespoon.
3. Chia Seeds
With their 2.53 grams of omega-3s per tablespoon, chia seeds are a good alternative for people who don’t like flaxseeds’ nutty taste. They also contain high fiber and protein levels, making chia seeds an excellent source of nutrients for people on a plant-based diet.
Almost all seafood contains omega-3s, but cooked salmon is an especially good DHA and EPA source with 1.24 and 0.59 grams, respectively. While fresh fish doesn’t usually contain ALA, canned salmon can have up to 0.04 grams in addition to its DHA and EPA content. Other large fish like mackerel, trout, tuna, and sea bass also have high omega-3 levels.
5. Foraging Fish
After large fish like salmon, foraging fish have some of the highest levels of EPA and DHA omega-3s. This group includes herring with 1.71 grams per 3-ounce serving and canned sardines with 1.19 grams.
Shellfish are a uniquely good source of omega-3s because many types contain all three forms — ALA, DHA, and EPA. This includes oysters with a total content of 0.67 grams per 3-ounce serving, lobster with 0.21 grams, and scallops with 0.15 grams for the same portion.
Walnuts are rich in many nutrients, including omega-3s. About seven walnuts contain up to 1.28 grams of ALA, and if you include them in a chicken dish you get an added boost. While a 3-ounce portion of chicken breast has only 0.03 grams of omega-3s, it’s made up of DHA and EPA, balancing your meal.
While you should moderate your portions of mayonnaise because of its saturated fat content, a tablespoon has 0.74 grams of the omega-3 ALA. Mixing it with canned tuna for a salad or sandwich offers a complete source of omega-3s. You get 0.32 grams of DHA and EPA from a 5-ounce can of tuna packed in water.
Why You Need Omega-3s
Omega-3s play important roles throughout your body. Getting enough in your diet is linked to a lower risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and arthritis, as well as cognitive conditions like Alzheimer’s disease.
Daily recommended levels are based on the body’s ALA requirement. On average, men should consume 1.6 grams of ALA per day and women 1.1 grams, but a healthy diet includes sources of DHA and EPA as well.
Research shows these omega-3s support your health in several ways, including:
A diet high in omega-3s is associated with a lower risk of heart disease. Studies show omega-3s reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels. This effect can keep your arteries clear from plaque buildup and your blood vessels smooth and flexible, putting less strain on your heart.
Omega-3s may reduce inflammation in your body. While inflammation is a natural response to infection and stress, high levels over time can lead to chronic diseases like coronary artery disease, arthritis, and possibly depression.
Research is ongoing to see if omega-3s could be used to treat different conditions. However, studies suggest that omega-3s’ effects could reduce your risk of many inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.
Some studies show that people who consume enough omega-3s have a lower risk of developing Alzheimer’s disekase, dementia, and other conditions of cognitive decline. Scientists don’t fully understand why omega-3s may have this effect, however, so much more research is needed.
Americans Aren’t Getting Enough of This Key Brain-Boosting Nutrient—Here Are 3 Ways To Eat More of It
In the wide and wonderful world of nutrients, many work overtime to support various aspects of your well-being. Take, for instance, omega-3 fatty acids. These healthy fats aren’t only stellar for brain health (more on that below), but also your skin, sleep quality, heart health, and more. Given their bounty of benefits for beauty, longevity, and beyond, the majority of us would be all the wiser if we prioritize getting enough of them in our diets.
Yet according to a June 2022 study published in Current Developments in Nutrition, American adults lack adequate amounts of two of the three major omega-3 fatty acids—including DHA, which is arguably the most important brain-boosting fatty acid of the bunch.
Keep reading to learn more about omega-3s, the different types, and how to boost your intake of them to keep your brain and body in tip-top shape.
What are omega-3 fatty acids and how do they support brain health?
“Omega-3 fatty acids are unsaturated or ‘healthy fats’ found in both animal and plant foods,” says Bianca Tamburello, RDN, a dietitian based in New York. “It’s important to make sure you’re eating omega-3 rich foods because our bodies cannot make this essential nutrient.”
Can You Get Enough Omega-3s Through Plant-Based Foods? Here’s What Dietitians Have…
As we mentioned earlier, omega-3s support general health in many ways, though they’re especially renowned for promoting and protecting brain health through all stages of one’s life. “This powerful nutrient supports mental health and is associated with less age-related cognitive decline, as well as a decreased risk of depression and less depressive symptoms,” Tamburello says. She also points out that omega-3s—and DHA in particular—are critical for fetal and newborn brain development, which is why they’re integral to diets of expectant and new mothers.
Types of omega-3s
Tamburello shares that three main types of omega-3 fatty acids are:
- Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
- Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
- Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)
“DHA is thought to be an especially important omega-3 and is crucial for the structure of the brain, eyes, and other body parts,” says Tamburello. “Both DHA and EPA have powerful anti-inflammatory properties that can help fight inflammation, which is beneficial in helping correlated diseases.” Unfortunately, findings from the 2022 study cited earlier shows that American adults don’t meet the adequate intake (AI) of these omega-3s on a regular basis.
It appears, however, that many adults are reaching the AI values for ALA—and this discrepancy makes sense once you understand what their top food sources are. “ALA is found in plant foods, seeds, and seed oils including flaxseeds and flaxseed oil, soybeans and soybean oil, canola oil, chia seeds, and walnuts,” Tamburello says. “Because plant oils are found in many processed foods, ALA is more common in the western diet than DHA and EPA.” In other words, even if you don’t add flaxseed oil to your morning smoothie or top your lunchtime mason jar salad with chia seeds, some less nutritious food choices can still help you reach the AI values for ALA, which (depending on the source) is between 1.1 grams to 2 grams per day.
“ALA’s role is mostly in converting food into energy that the body can use for regular functioning,” Tamburello says. “Although the body can convert a small amount of ALA into DHA and EPA, this process does not create enough EPA and DHA to replace foods with EPA and DHA.” Simply put, it’s well worth taking a closer look at your diet to make sure you’re getting enough DHA (and EPA) to keep your brain, mood, and body in good health for years to come.
3 ways to increase your DHA intake to reap more DHA benefits
In order to reap the greatest brain-boosting DHA benefits from omega-3s, you’ll need to prioritize getting more of this nutrient into your diet. Here are the best ways to do so.
1. Eat more fish
“To boost your DHA intake, eat more fatty fish like salmon, sardines, and tuna,” Tamburello says. She says that they’re among the most significant sources of both DHA *and* EPA, so head to your local fishmonger (and/or browse canned fish and tinned seafood options) to get more nutrient-rich bang for your buck. She also suggests seeking out options that are generally rich in omega-3s. “For example, I look for salmon from Chile because it’s particularly high in omega-3s,” she adds.
Note: Tamburello mentions that unlike ALA, DHA doesn’t have an established recommendation for intake on its own; instead, health organizations often suggest combined DHA and EPA values. “The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends eating two servings of fish (about eight ounces total) per week for overall health. This adds up to an average of 250 milligrams of combined DHA and EPA per serving, though consuming more DHA and EPA is also beneficial,” she says. (People with cardiovascular disease are advised to increase their combined daily intake of DHA and EPA to approximately one gram per day.)
2. Stock up on fish oil or fish oil supplements
“There are very few vegan sources of DHA, making it more challenging for vegans and vegetarians to get this nutrient through diet,” says Tamburello. With that said, if you follow a vegetarian diet or simply don’t enjoy fish and/or seafood, fish oil and fish oil supplements are additional RD-approved sources of DHA.
Learn more about fish oil supplements from a registered dietitian by checking out this video:
3. Supplement with algae oil
If fish oil and fish oil supplements are a hard pass for you (whether you stick to a vegan or plant-based diet or otherwise), rest assured that there’s an option available that can seamlessly help boost your DHA benefits: algae oil. “Those who are not comfortable taking fish oil supplements can lean on algae oil, which contains both DHA and EPA,” Tamburello says. In addition, she also suggests that people who fall into this camp should still prioritize healthy sources of ALAs, such as chia seeds, walnuts, and flaxseeds to keep your greater omega-3 game on point.