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There is lots of positive research supporting high dietary Omega-3 fatty acid intake to reduce the chances of an adverse cardiovascular event by reducing blood triglycerides, improve cognitive health (even manage severe clinical depression), and reducing inflammation. However, in a typical western diet high in Omega-6 fatty acids (found in red meats, eggs, frozen meals, and fast food), fish oil supplementation alone may not be enough. An ideal ratio of 1:1 in Omega-3 to Omega-6 fatty acid intake is far from easy to maintain with our western diet full of "convenient" food options that are being pushed at us in all directions in our grocery stores,fast-food chains, and restaurants. 

Aiming to increase your intake of foods high in Omega-3 fatty acids in addition to your fish oil supplement (if you are taking one) can help many aspects of your health and will have a much higher health benefits than relying on fish oil supplements alone. Many foods have Omega-3 as well as Omega-6 fatty acids, however you want to choose foods with a higher ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6. Below we list 5 foods that have a high ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6 fatty acids to incorporate more into your diet to get your Omega-3's in!

5 Foods high in Omega-3 Fatty Acids 
Listed from highest ratio of Omega-3 : Omega-6 to lowest ratio per 1 oz.

Mackerel (wild)

1 oz of Mackerel 

  • Omega 3 = 748 mg
  • Omega 6 = 61.3 mg
  • Ratio = 12.2 : 1 

Salmon (wild)

1 oz of Salmon

  • Omega 3 = 565 mg
  • Omega 6 = 48.2 mg
  • Ratio = 11.7 : 1

Spinach

1 oz of Spinach 

  • Omega 3 = 38.6 mg
  • Omega 6 = 7.3 mg
  • Ratio = 5.3 : 1

Flax Seeds

1 oz of Flax Seed

  • Omega 3 = 1,800 mg
  • Omega 6 = 400 mg
  • Ratio = 4.5 : 1

Chia Seeds

1 oz of Chia Seeds

  • Omega 3 = 4,915 mg
  • Omega 6 = 1,620 mg
  • Ratio = 3 : 1

Selected References:

[1] United States Department of Agriculture Nutrient Database for Standard Reference 28 (USDA SR28)

[2] Cazzola R. et al (2007) Age- and dose-dependent effects of an eicosapentaenoic acid-rich oil on cardiovascular risk factors in healthy male subjects 2007 Atherosclerosis. Jul;193(1):159-67

[3] Frangou S., Lewis M., McCrone P. (2006) Efficacy of ethyl-eicosapentaenoic acid in bipolar depression: randomised double-blind placebo-controlled study. Br J Psychiatry. 2006 Jan;188:46-50.

[4] Kiecolt-Glaser JK. et al (2011) Omega-3 supplementation lowers inflammation and anxiety in medical students: a randomized controlled trial. Brain Behav Immun. 2011 Nov;25(8):1725-34.

June 11, 2016 by Evan Ward