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Which Fish Contain Omega-3 Fats?

by
author image Elizabeth Moore
Based in Princeton, N.J., Elizabeth Moore has written health-related patient education materials since 1992. She is a registered nurse with more than 15 years of clinical experience. Moore earned an Associate of Applied Science in nursing from Phillips Beth Israel School of Nursing.
Which Fish Contain Omega-3 Fats?
Mackerel are high in omega-3 fatty acids. Photo Credit Zoryanchik/iStock/Getty Images

Overview

The American Heart Association recommends eating at least two 3.5-oz. servings of fish every week. Omega-3 fatty acids are among the most beneficial types of the polyunsaturated fats found in fish. The American Heart Association does not advise consuming a specific amount of omega-3 fats per day for people with no known heart disease. However, it does endorse eating the minimum recommended servings of fish per week. Higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids are generally found in "fatty" fish such as herring, mackerel, salmon, sardines and anchovies. MayoClinic.com explains that eating these types of fish provides the greatest benefit from omega-3 fatty acids.

Salmon

According to ClevelandClinic.org, a 3-oz. serving of cooked salmon provides 1.9 g of omega-3 fatty acids. Salmon, a popular fish in the diet of Americans, is widely available and an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. Fresh grilled, baked or poached salmon is flavorful and versatile. It can be eaten plain or as an ingredient in other dishes such as salads and pasta. Canned salmon is usually less expensive but may be high in sodium. Smoked salmon is considered a delicacy and is relatively expensive and also high in sodium.

Herring

Herring is another rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, delivering 1.9 g per 3-oz. serving. Herring is commonly pickled in oil or sour cream and spices and can be purchased in the dairy section of many supermarkets. These rich-tasting, oily fish are popular for breakfast in some European countries. Pickled herring, however, can be high in added fat and salt from the various marinades that accompany it.

Tuna

Three ounces of cooked bluefin tuna is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, providing 1.5 g, according to ClevelandClinic.org. Like salmon, fresh tuna can also be purchased in many U.S. food stores. It is interesting to note the differences in omega-3 content among subtypes of the same fish: 3 oz. of canned white meat tuna provides only 0.5 g of omega-3. Although fresh tuna is significantly more expensive than most varieties of canned tuna, it is easy to see the added benefit gained from eating fresh tuna instead of canned tuna.

Anchovies and Sardines

One 2-oz. serving of canned anchovies contains 1.2 g of omega-3 fatty acids, which makes it a rich source of healthy polyunsaturated fat. Three ounces of sardines in tomato sauce contains even more--1.5 g. Many people find the strong, "fishy" taste of anchovies and sardines unpleasant. This is unfortunate, as both are readily available in most grocery stores. Researching recipes and experimenting in the kitchen to find palatable ways to incorporate anchovies and sardines in your diet may be worthwhile.

Alternative Choices

It is important to remember that all fish are sources of polyunsaturated fat. If none of the aforementioned fish sounds appealing, there are many more "fatty" fish from which to choose--mackerel, trout and halibut, for example. In addition, other more mild-tasting fish can sometimes provide a relatively good amount of omega-3 fatty acids. According to ClevelandClinic.org, 3 oz. of cooked sole or flounder provides 0.5 g of these heart-healthy polyunsaturated fats.

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