Limited

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 Fatty Acid Content of Fish and Seafood

In the past two decades, perhaps the single most important dietary recommendation to improve our health and prevent chronic disease is to increase our dietary intake of omega-3 fatty acids which are found primarily in fatty fish. Thousands of scientific papers spanning a variety of diseases demonstrate the health benefit of these fatty acids. In randomized clinical trials that enrolled patients with pre-existing coronary heart disease, omega-3 fatty acid supplements significantly reduced cardiovascular events (deaths, non-fatal heart attacks, and non-fatal strokes). Omega-3 fatty acids reduce the risk for cardiovascular disease through a number of mechanisms, including a reduction in heart beat irregularities called arrhythmias, a decrease in blood clots which in turn can decrease the risk for heart attack and stroke, a decrease in blood triglycerides, slightly lower blood pressure, a decreased rate of plaque formation in arteries, and a reduction in overall inflammation, which is now known to be an important factor causing atherosclerosis.

In addition to reducing the risk for heart disease, regular consumption of fish or supplemental omega-3 fatty acids may be helpful in preventing, treating, or improving a wide variety of diseases and disorders, including but not limited to virtually all inflammatory diseases (any disease ending with “itis”), rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disorders (Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis), periodontal disease (gingivitis), mental disorders (autism, depression, postpartum depression, bi-polar disorder, borderline personality disorder, impaired cognitive development in infants and children), acne, asthma, exercise induced asthma, many types of cancers, macular degeneration, pre-term birth, psoriasis, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, cancer cachexia, intermittent claudication, skin damage from sunlight, IgA nephropathy, lupus erythematosus, type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and migraine headaches.

The average U.S. diet is deficient in omega-3 fatty acids and amounts to a paltry 1.6 grams per day (of which 1.4 grams come from alpha linolenic acid [ALA] and only 0.1 to 0.2 grams come from EPA and DHA). Most of the beneficial effects of omega-3 fatty acids are due to EPA and DHA. Because the conversion of ALA to DHA and EPA in the liver is inefficient, very little ALA is converted to EPA and DHA.

Try to include at least 0.5-1.8 grams of EPA + DHA per day in your diet, either by eating fish or fish oil supplements. If you have documented coronary heart disease, you should include at least 1.0 grams of EPA + DHA in your diet. Patients with hypertriglyceridemia (elevated or high blood triglycerides) can lower their values by as much as 40 percent by taking 2-4 grams of EPA + DHA per day. If you are taking more than 3 grams of EPA + DHA per day, consult with your physician because high intakes tend to prevent blood from clotting and may cause excessive nose bleeding.

For more information, reference the American Heart Association Scientific Statement “Fish Consumption, Fish Oil, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, and Cardiovascular Disease.”

Omega-3 Fatty Acids Content in Fish and Seafood/100-gram Portion

ALA = alpha linolenic acid (18:3n3), EPA = eicosapentaenoic acid (20:5n3), DHA = docosahexaenoic acid (22:6n3), Tr = Trace amount.

ALA (g)
EPA (g)
DHA (g)
Total
Finfish
Anchovy, European
0.5
0.9
1.4
Bass, freshwater
Tr
0.1
0.2
0.3
Bass, striped
Tr
0.2
0.6
0.8
Bluefish
0.4
0.8
1.2
Burbot
0.1
0.1
0.2
Capelin
0.1
0.6
0.5
1.2
Carp
0.3
0.2
0.1
0.6
Catfish, brown bullhead
0.1
0.2
0.2
0.5
Catfish, channel
Tr
0.1
0.2
0.3
Cisco
0.1
0.1
0.3
0.5
Cod, Atlantic
Tr
0.1
0.2
0.3
Cod, Pacific
Tr
0.1
0.1
0.2
Croaker, Atlantic
Tr
0.1
0.1
0.2
Dogfish, spiny
0.1
0.7
1.2
2
Dolphinfish
Tr
Tr
0.1
0.1
Drum, black
Tr
0.1
0.1
0.2
Drum, freshwater
0.1
0.2
0.3
0.6
Eel, European
0.7
0.1
0.1
0.9
Flounder, unspecified
Tr
0.1
0.1
0.2
Flounder, yellowtail
Tr
0.1
0.1
0.2
Grouper, jewfish
Tr
Tr
0.3
0.3
Grouper, red
Tr
0.2
0.2
Haddock
Tr
0.1
0.1
0.2
Hake, Atlantic
Tr
Tr
Tr
0
Hake, Pacific
Tr
0.2
0.2
0.4
Hake, red
0.1
0.1
0.2
Hake, silver
0.1
0.2
0.3
0.6
Hake, unspecified
0.1
0.4
0.5
Halibut, Greenland
Tr
0.5
0.4
0.9
Halibut, Pacific
0.1
0.1
0.3
0.5
Herring, Atlantic
0.1
0.7
0.9
1.7
Herring, Pacific
0.1
1
0.7
1.8
Herring, round
0.1
0.4
0.8
1.3
Mackerel, Atlantic
0.1
0.9
1.6
2.6
Mackerel, chub
0.3
0.9
1
2.2
Mackerel, horse
Tr
0.3
0.3
0.6
Mackerel, Japanese horse
0.1
0.5
1.3
1.9
Mackerel, king
1
1.2
2.2
Mullet, striped
0.1
0.3
0.2
0.6
Mullet, unspecified
Tr
0.5
0.6
1.1
Ocean perch
Tr
0.1
0.1
0.2
Perch, white
0.1
0.2
0.1
0.4
Perch, yellow
Tr
0.1
0.2
0.3
Pike, northern
Tr
Tr
0.1
0.1
Pike, walleye
Tr
0.1
0.2
0.3
Plaice, European
Tr
0.1
0.1
0.2
Pollock
0.1
0.4
0.5
Pompano, Florida
0.2
0.4
0.6
Ratfish
Tr
Tr
0.1
0.1
Rockfish, brown
Tr
0.3
0.4
0.7
Rockfish, canary
Tr
0.2
0.3
0.5
Rockfish, unspecified
Tr
0.2
0.3
0.5
Sablefish
0.1
0.7
0.7
1.5
Salmon, Atlantic
0.2
0.3
0.9
1.4
Salmon, Chinook
0.1
0.8
0.6
1.5
Salmon, chum
0.1
0.4
0.6
1.1
Salmon, coho
0.2
0.3
0.5
1
Salmon, pink
Tr
0.4
0.6
1
Salmon, sockeye
0.1
0.5
0.7
1.3
Saury
0.1
0.5
0.8
1.4
Scad, Muroaji
0.1
0.5
1.5
2.1
Scad, other
Tr
Tr
0
Sea bass, Japanese
Tr
0.1
0.3
0.4
Seatrout, sand
Tr
0.1
0.2
0.3
Seatrout, spotted
Tr
0.1
0.1
0.2
Shark, unspecified
Tr
0.5
0.5
Sheepshead
Tr
0.1
0.1
0.2
Smelt, pond
0.1
0.2
0.3
Smelt, rainbow
0.1
0.3
0.4
0.8
Smelt, sweet
0.3
0.2
0.1
0.6
Snapper, red
Tr
Tr
0.2
0.2
Sole, European
Tr
Tr
0.1
0.1
Sprat
0.5
0.8
1.3
Sturgeon, Atlantic
Tr
1
0.5
1.5
Sturgeon, common
0.1
0.2
0.1
0.4
Sunfish, pumpkinseed
Tr
Tr
0.1
0.1
Swordfish
0.1
0.1
0.2
Trout, arctic char
Tr
0.1
0.5
0.6
Trout, brook
0.2
0.2
0.2
0.6
Trout, lake
0.4
0.5
1.1
2
Trout, rainbow
0.1
0.1
0.4
0.6
Tuna, albacore
0.2
0.3
1
1.5
Tuna, bluefin
0.4
1.2
1.6
Tuna, skipjack
0.1
0.3
0.4
Tuna, unspecified
0.1
0.4
0.5
Whitefish, lake
0.2
0.3
1
1.5
Whiting, European
Tr
Tr
0.1
0.1
Wolffish, Atlantic
Tr
0.3
0.3
0.6
Crustaceans
Crab, Alaska king
Tr
0.2
0.1
0.3
Crab, blue
T r
0.2
0.2
0.4
Crab, Dungeness
0.2
0.1
0.3
Crab, queen
Tr
0.2
0.1
0.3
Crayfish, unspecified
Tr
0.1
Tr
0.1
Lobster, European
0.1
0.1
0.2
Lobster, northern
0.1
0.1
0.2
Shrimp, Atlantic brown
Tr
0.2
0.1
0.3
Shrimp, Atlantic white
Tr
0.2
0.2
0.4
Shrimp, Japanese
Tr
0.3
0.2
0.5
Shrimp, northern
Tr
0.3
0.2
0.5
Shrimp, other
Tr
0.1
0.1
0.2
Shrimp, unspecified
Tr
0.2
0.1
0.3
Spiny lobster, Caribbean
Tr
0.2
0.1
0.3
Spiny lobster, southern rock
Tr
0.2
0.1
0.3
Mollusks
Abalone, New Zealand
Tr
Tr
-
0
Abalone, South African
Tr
Tr
Tr
0
Clam, hardshell
Tr
Tr
Tr
0
Clam, hen
Tr
Tr
0
Clam, littleneck
Tr
Tr
Tr
0
Clam, Japanese hardshell
0.1
0.1
0.2
Clam, softshell
Tr
0.2
0.2
0.4
Clam, surf
Tr
0.1
0.1
0.2
Conch, unspecified
Tr
0.6
0.4
1
Cuttlefish, unspecified
Tr
Tr
Tr
0
Mussel, blue
Tr
0.2
0.3
0.5
Mussel, Mediterranean
0.1
0.1
0.2
Octopus, common
0.1
0.1
0.2
Oyster, eastern
Tr
0.2
0.2
0.4
Oyster, European
0.1
0.3
0.2
0.6
Oyster, Pacific
Tr
0.4
0.2
0.6
Periwinkle, common
0.2
0.5
Tr
0.7
Scallop, Atlantic deep sea
Tr
0.1
0.1
0.2
Scallop, calico
Tr
0.1
0.1
0.2
Scallop, unspecified
Tr
0.1
0.1
0.2
Squid, Atlantic
Tr
0.1
0.3
0.4
Squid, short-finned
Tr
0.2
0.4
0.6
Squid, unspecified
Tr
0.1
0.2
0.3
Fish Oils
Cod liver oil
0.7
9
9.5
19.2
Herring oil
0.6
7.1
4.3
12
Menhaden oil
1.1
12.7
7.9
21.7
MaxEPAT, concentrated
0
17.8
11.6
29.4
Salmon oil
1
8.8
11.1
20.9

Source: Provisional Table on the Content of Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Other \ Fat Components in Selected Foods J Exler, JL Weihrauch, Nutrition Monitoring Division, Human Nutrition Information Service, USDA Pamphlet HNIS/PT-103, Nutrient Data Research Branch, USDA/HNIS, Federal Building Room 315, Hyattsville, MD 20782 1986* 6 pp (English)

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