What are Omega-3 Fatty Acids? Benefits, Food Sources, Supplements, and More 

Last Update: September 26, 2023

Not so long ago, many people feared eating fats. “Healthy fats” weren’t yet a coveted nutritional powerhouse — and in fact, you’d be more likely to seek out “low-fat” and even “fat-free” labels on foods in an effort to eat well. 

Today, we know that fats are essential for optimal health, and in the wide world of fats, omega-3 fatty acids reign supreme. But what makes this particular type of fat so beneficial? Let’s explore the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids, what omega-3 fatty acids do for your body, and the best food sources of omega-3 fatty acids. 

What Are Omega-3 Fatty Acids? 

Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids (a specific type of unsaturated fat) that help your body perform its most essential functions. The two main types of fats are saturated and unsaturated; while saturated fats are often considered less healthy when consumed in excess, unsaturated fats are considered “good” or “healthy” fats because they’ve been shown to help reduce cholesterol and improve inflammation, among other things.

Your body can’t produce enough omega-3 fatty acids on its own, so you need to get them from food sources. Luckily, there are plenty of options, and ingested omega-3 fatty acids are very easily absorbed by the body. 

What Do Omega-3 Fatty Acids Do? 

Omega-3 fatty acids help to form the structure of your cell membranes, so they improve your health at a cellular level. They also provide the body with energy and support the function of many of your most vital bodily functions, such as your endocrine system and cardiovascular system. 

Other potential health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids include: 

  • May help to lower blood pressure
  • May reduce risk for cardiovascular disease
  • May reduce risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease 
  • May reduce risk of certain cancers 
  • May prevent blood clots 
  • May reduce risk for stroke

    Source: National Institutes of Health 

The Best Food Sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids 

Fish is considered one the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids of any food source because it contains EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) or DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), which are known as marine omega-3s since they’re only found in seafood. 


Whether you eat them on the half shell or smoked and on a cracker, oysters are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. 
Omega-3 fatty acid content: 1.2 grams per 3-ounce serving   
Try: Crown Prince Smoked Oysters
Recipe: Smoked Oyster Cream Cheese


If you eat seafood, you likely already eat salmon as part of a healthy diet. While many people prepare it grilled, you can also keep tinned salmon in the pantry to add a quick dose of omega-3 fatty acids to a lunchtime salad. 
Omega-3 fatty acid content: 1.7 grams per 3-ounce serving 
Try: Thrive Market Wild-Caught Alaskan Salmon, Safe Catch Canned Wild Pink Salmon
Recipe: Pamela Salzman’s Herbed Sweet and Spicy Salmon 


Mackerel are oily fish that are high in omega-3 fatty acids. They’re often served cured or tinned, and work well as a salad topper or even in a sandwich. 
Omega-3 fatty acid content: 2 grams per 3-ounce serving 
Try: Wild Planet Mackerel Filets 


Anchovies are tiny saltwater fish that are similar to sardines. The filets are typically packed in oil and served tinned, and they’re delicious in pasta or as a pizza topper. 
Omega-3 fatty acid content: 1.2 grams per 3-ounce serving 
Try: Crown Prince Anchovy Filets, Crown Prince Anchovy Paste
Recipe: Anchovy and Onion Flatbread 


Whether you eat a tuna steak or tinned tuna, this popular fish is packed with omega-3 fatty acids. 
Omega-3 fatty acid content: 1 gram per 3-ounce serving  
Try: Safe Catch Wild Skipjack Tuna
Recipe: Blackened Canned Fish Tacos 

Plant-Based Food Sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids 

If you’re vegan, vegetarian, or don’t eat seafood for another reason, you may wonder how you can incorporate omega-3 fatty acids into your diet. Luckily, there are many plant-based food sources. These contain ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), which is the type of omega-3 fatty acids found in plants. 

Here are some good plant sources of omega–3 fatty acids: 

  • Walnuts 
  • Flaxseeds or flaxseed oil
  • Edamame 
  • Chia seeds 
  • Soybeans or soybean oil
  • Hemp seeds
  • Seaweed or nori (one of the few plant-based food sources containing the DHA and EPA forms of omega-3 fatty acids)

The Best Omega-3 Supplements 

If you’re concerned about your omega-3 fatty acid intake, you may want to consider boosting your diet with omega-3 or fish oil supplements. Here’s a guide to some of the best omega-3 supplements you’ll find at Thrive Market.  

Wellmade by Thrive Market Fish Oil 
This non-GMO fish oil supplement is made with real anchovies, offering 180mg of EPA and 120mg of DHA per capsule. 

Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega 
Made with wild-caught fish, this omega supplement offers 1,280mg of total omega-3s and has a fresh lemon flavor — no fishy taste. 

Future Kind Vegan Omega 3 Supplement 
For those looking for an omega-3 supplement that doesn’t contain animal products, this one from Future Kind is made with sustainably sourced algae and delivers 275mg of omega-3 fatty acids per capsule. 

Wiley’s Finest Catch-Free Omega Full Spectrum Softgel
Another vegan omega-3 supplement, this softgel contains fish-free omega-3 fatty acids, plus vitamin D3 and vitamin K2 for overall wellness. 

This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and before changing your diet or healthcare regimen, and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

Read more: 

Good Fats vs. Bad Fats 

The Benefits of Fish Oil 

Is Fish Oil Good for You? 

This article is related to:

omega 3s, Supplements

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Amy Roberts

Amy Roberts is Thrive Market's Senior Editorial Writer. She is based in Los Angeles via Pittsburgh, PA.

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