Omega-3 fats are polyunsaturated fats that can be divided into two groups – short-chain and long-chain. The body is able to convert short-chain omega-3 fats, found in foods like flaxseed, rapeseed oil, walnuts and green, leafy veg, into long-chain omega-3s but this conversion process isn’t very efficient. In contrast, oil-rich fish such as mackerel, salmon, pilchards, sardines, trout, kippers and herring are naturally rich in long-chain omega-3 fats, especially eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). In particular, it’s these ‘ready-made’ long-chain omega-3 fats in oily fish that have been linked to various health benefits, including helping the heart to work normally and maintaining normal blood pressure and blood triglyceride levels. DHA also plays a role in contributing to normal brain development in babies and children and maintaining normal brain function and vision. While oily fish are fantastic sources of the long-chain omega-3 fats, white fish and shellfish can also help to boost intakes. The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition recommends two portions of fish a week, one of which should be oily.
Check out the amount of omega-3 fat in different fish in our Now That's What I Call Omega-3 chart!
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