What fishes contain the Most Omega 3 Fatty Acids?
Here we have a list of fishes that contain the most omega 3 fatty acids. Why? Because, many people are aware that omega 3 fats are good for the heart and the brain. They are also aware that consuming omega 3 fats can counteract the detrimental affects of omega 6 fats present in most meats and oils Westerners now eat. And, finally they are aware that fishes are the best known source of omega 3 fatty acids, but they wonder what fishes contain the most omega 3 fatty acids.
Nutritional labels typically do not list the amount of omega 3 fats. They list the total amount of fat and in some cases the total amount of trans, saturated and unsaturated fats, but not specifically omega 3s or 6s. So, we compiled this list to help consumers, not only when they are purchasing fish, but also when they are looking for fish oils.
Generally speaking, it is difficult to consume the 1g or 1000mg per day of omega 3 fatty acids that is recommended for most adults, without a fish oil supplement. But, not all fish oil supplements are the same.
Some contain unsafe levels of contaminants, such as mercury and PCBs. Some are derived from fishes, whose populations have been seriously depleted due to over harvesting. Other fish are relied upon by other members of the animal kingdom for their survival. And, still others are captured using equipment that damages the ocean floor killing the wildlife that existed there.
Our list of fishes that contain the most omega 3 fatty acids has been narrowed down to include only those species whose populations are sustainable. In most cases the equipment used to catch these fish does not damage the environment.
The EPA and the FDA have advised that consumers should not eat the same type of fish more than once a week to avoid potential mercury poisoning. This warning does not apply to fish oils that are molecularly distilled to remove all contaminants. For our list of fishes that contain the most omega 3 fatty acids, we excluded those species that are known to have high levels of contaminants.
In other words, if you do not see a fish listed here, there is a reason for its exclusion. It would be impossible to list every species of fish in an article, such as this, along with the public health advisories or environmental issues that accompany it. So, what we have here, are not only the fishes that contain the most omega 3 fatty acids, but are also the best choices overall. The quantities of omega 3 fatty acids listed below are for one serving of 100g (about a .25 pound).
What Fishes Contain the Most Omega 3 Fatty Acids?
- Atlantic Mackerel 2.45g
- Pacific Sardines 1.87g
- Atlantic Herring 1.67g
- European Anchovies 1.44g
- Pacific Oysters .71g
- Catfish .43g
- Pacific Halibut .42g
- Snow Crab .37g
- Crawfish .17g
- Clams .14g
A Word about Salmon
Although salmon is typically included in a list of fishes that contain the most omega 3 fatty acids, there are several considerations that should be mentioned. Atlantic salmon has been over harvested, populations may not be sustainable and industrial pollution in the Atlantic Ocean is some of the worst in the world, meaning that the level of mercury and PCBs is high.
Wild Pacific Salmon has become increasingly popular, both because it is one of the fishes that contain the most omega 3 fatty acids and because the Pacific Ocean is less polluted. Wild catch is also popular because of a growing awareness concerning the environmental impact of fish farms. Farmed fish often escape and spread diseases among wild populations.
There is however one environmental concern over large harvests of Wild Pacific Salmon. Many animals, including bears and birds, depend on Pacific Salmon for their survival. If you choose to purchase salmon, the Chinook variety has the highest omega 3 content at 1.44grams.
We must include caviar on our list of fishes that contain the most omega 3 fatty acids, because 6.558grams/serving is obviously a high content. However, most varieties should be avoided for environmental concerns. Caviar is considered a delicacy and the high price it fetches has led to over fishing and poaching. It takes years for a female sturgeon to reach maturity and produce eggs.
The ancient species is facing extinction because of the popularity of caviar. The worst varieties to choose are Beluga, Lake Sturgeon, Sevruga or Osetra. The best varieties to choose are Paddlefish or White Sturgeon Caviar, because they are farmed in the United States in a manner that does not endanger wild populations. White Sturgeon is considered comparable in taste and texture to Beluga and Osetra.
A Word about the Hoki Fish
What fishes contain the most omega 3 fatty acids? Probably, the New Zealand Hoki fish. Why? Because, of a stripe of fat that runs through the center of each filet, known as the "muscle line". The problem is that the fat is typically removed from filets sold for consumption in the United States, because of concerns that customers will find it "unappealing".
The waters surrounding New Zealand are some of the cleanest in the world. Fishing practices are carefully monitored by the government to ensure that populations are sustainable and other wildlife is not endangered. Some of the best fish oil supplements available are derived from the New Zealand Hoki fish, because of the high EPA and DHA omega 3 content.
The per serving content was not readily available at the time this article was written, because, as mentioned, the omega 3 fat is typically removed from filets sold for consumption in the US. But, we wanted to include the Hoki on our list of fishes that contain the most omega 3 fatty acids, because it is becoming increasingly popular and is likely the most "environmentally friendly" of all the fishes on our list.
It is also available in pure oil form in the United States when sold in fish oil supplements.