Fish oil, derived from the tissue of fatty fish, is touted for its health benefits. Fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids, healthy fats the body requires but can't produce on its own. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC), omega-3 intake is associated with reduced risk for high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, depression, asthma and other disorders. The American Heart Association suggests at least two servings of fish, preferably fatty fish, per week.
Pacific herring are small fish found in the Pacific Ocean. According to Oregon State University, fatty fish such as Pacific herring are a valuable source of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), two essential omega-3 fatty acids. One 3-ounce serving of Pacific herring provides 1.06 gram of EPA and 0.7 gram of DHA. To ensure you're consuming an appropriate amount of herring, keep in mind that 3 ounces of fish is about the size of a standard deck of cards.
Salmon is also a valuable source of omega-3 fatty acids, containing 0.86 gram of EPA per 3-oz. serving and 0.62 gram of DHA. Salmon is a convenient fatty-fish option because it is popular in a variety of cuisines and restaurants throughout the United States. Salmon is relatively easy to prepare as well. Steam, bake or grill fatty fish in light amounts of olive oil or vegetable oil rather than batter-frying or cooking it in butter, as cooking methods that involve saturated fats can take away from the health value of fish.
Sardines, also known as pilchards, are tiny, oily fish in the herring family. As a positive source of omega-3 fatty acids, sardines provide about 0.45 gram of EPA and 0.74 g of DHA per 3-ounce serving, according to Oregon State University. Grill fresh sardines with lemon juice and other desired seasonings or purchase canned sardines, which are ready to eat and generally served plain or atop crackers. If you are concerned about mercury content in fish, avoid buying large amounts of fish from the same market. Vary your fish choices often as well, as diseases generally require a substantial amount of intake from one particular breed and batch of fish.
Oysters are found primarily in the Pacific Ocean and contribute about 0.45 g of EPA and 0.47 gram of DHA per 3-ounce serving, according to Oregon State University. Enjoy fresh or canned oysters only on an occasional basis, particularly if you have high cholesterol, as oysters are high in cholesterol and sodium. In addition to omega-3 fatty acis, oysters provide dense amounts of iron. If you are iron deficient and seeking dietary sources of omega-3 fatty acids, oysters are a prime choice.