Top 8 Fish for Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of fat essential to your brain and nervous system. They are also good for your heart because they lower triglyceride levels and blood pressure, help keep plaque from clogging your arteries, and help prevent the development of abnormal heart rhythms (arrhythmias).

The American Heart Association recommends that you eat at least two servings of fish every week. Fish are some of the richest sources of two forms of omega-3 fatty acids called docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). DHA is the primary structural component of the brain, cerebral cortex, skin, and retina. EPA is able to help lower "bad" low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, which DHA cannot.

While fish is a prime source of DHA and EPA, not all fish are created equal. By and large, those considered fatty are the types you should add to your diet, although there others to choose from if you prefer a flakier fish.

Here are eight for you to consider:

1

Herring

Herring is high in omega-3 fatty acid.
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Herring is often pickled and served as an appetizer before meals, but these small fish can be also cooked on the grill, oven or stovetop. Herring is also a great source of protein, calcium, magnesium, potassium, niacin, vitamin B-12 and selenium. 

A 100-gram portion of Atlantic herring (unpickled) is only 158 calories and delivers 18 grams of protein (roughly 36 percent of your recommended daily value).

2

Salmon

Salmon

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Salmon steaks and fillets can be baked, grilled, sauteed, or poached. Or you can keep a can of tinned salmon on hand to make salmon salads or sandwiches. Salmon is also high in protein, magnesium, potassium, niacin, vitamin B-12, and vitamin A.

A 100-gram portion of tinned salmon is 153 calories and offers 21 grams of protein (42 percent of your daily value) and 20 percent of your daily calcium.

3

Mackerel

Mackerel is high in omega-3 fatty acid.
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Mackerel is often smoked or canned, but fresh mackerel fillets can also be grilled or baked. Besides the omega-3 fatty acids, mackerel is high in vitamin B-12, niacin, selenium, magnesium, iron, and potassium, plus a fair amount of protein.

A 100-gram portion of fresh Spanish mackerel is 139 calories and packs 19 grams of protein (38 percent of your daily value).

4

Sardines

Sardines

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Sardines are small oily fish that you typically find in cans. They're often served with crackers as an appetizer. Fresh sardines may be available and can be grilled, baked or smoked. Sardines are also high in vitamin D, niacin, and calcium.

A 100-gram can of sardines is 208 calories and delivers an impressive 25 grams of protein (50 percent of your daily value) and 38 percent of your daily calcium.

5

Anchovies

Anchovies are high in omega-3 fatty acid.
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Anchovies are often found on pizza or Caesar salads, and you'll find them in cans when you go grocery shopping. Fresh anchovies can be grilled or used in recipes that call for sardines. Anchovies are also high in protein, calcium, potassium, selenium, vitamin B-12 and niacin.

Although you are unlikely to eat 100 grams of canned anchovy at one sitting, doing so would deliver 29 grams of protein (50 percent of your daily value) and 210 calories.

6

Halibut

Halibut is high in omega-3 fatty acid.
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Halibut is a good fish for people who don't like the strong flavor of most oily ocean fish. because it's a mild white fish that's still high in omega-3 fatty acids. Halibut is also an excellent source of protein, potassium, and niacin.

A 100-gram portion of Alaskan halibut is a mere 116 calories and offers 21 grams of protein (42 percent of your daily value).

7

Rainbow Trout

Rainbow Trout is high in omega-3 fatty acid.
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Rainbow trout is another mild white fish, so it's good for people who don't like salmon or tuna. Besides being high in omega-3 fatty acids, rainbow trout is also a good source of protein, calcium, magnesium, and niacin. 

A 100-gram portion of farmed rainbow trout is 141 calories and offers 20 grams of protein (40 percent of your daily value).

8

Tuna

Tuna

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Tuna is typically served as fillets or steaks, and it can be grilled, baked, or broiled. You'll also find canned tuna in your local grocery store. Tuna is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, protein, magnesium potassium, vitamin B-12, and niacin.

A 100-gram portion fresh yellowfin tuna is just 100 calories with 24 grams of protein (48 percent of your daily value), Tinned tuna delivers even more of both.

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Article Sources

  1. Chaddha A, Eagle KA. Cardiology Patient Page. Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Heart Health. Circulation. 2015;132(22):e350-2.  doi:10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.114.015176

  2. Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acids. American Heart Association. 2017.

  3. Fish: friend or foe? T.H. Chan Harvard School of Public Health.

  4. National Nutrient Database. U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2018.

  5. Recipes. American Heart Association.

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