From my Fish vs Flax blog, we learned that all omega 3s aren’t created equally. It’s the DHA and EPA that are linked to a lower risk of heart disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, eye disorders and other health problems. ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), although high in fibre, isn’t as beneficial. The conversion from ALA to EPA is low but is better than the conversion of ALA to DHA.
Generally, you should be aiming for 500mg (0.5g) DHA and EPA a day. Remember that intakes of 650-700mg DHA and EPA a day has been correlated with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease. If you have heart disease, you should be aiming for 900mg/day. If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, aim for a minimum of 300mg a day.
Included below is the amount of DHA and EPA in different fish and other products if you don’t eat fish. I’ll talk about some of the Brand-name products below. Note that considerable differences may exist with respect to the reported levels of DHA and EPA, even for a given fish source, due to various factors (ie. geographical origin).
FOOD (170g for fish unless noted)
FOOD (170g for fish unless noted)
Atlantic salmon, farmed
Atlantic salmon, wild
Skipjack tuna, fresh
Gold Seal Pacific Sockeye Salmon (100g)
Pacific cod or yellowfin tuna, fresh
Compliments Sliced Smoked Atlantic Salmon (55g)
Blue crab (85g) or haddock
Gold Seal Pacific Pink Salmon (100g)
Coho salmon, farmed
V-Pure algae supplements (3)**
270 mg DHA/89 mg EPA
Rainbow trout, farmed
Shrimp (85g) or Atlantic cod
Coho Salmon, wild
Naturegg Break-Free Omega 3 Liquid Eggs (50mL, 1 egg)
Rainbow trout, wild
Naturegg Omega Pro Large Eggs (1)
Sardines (in tomato sauce) (85g)
Naturegg Omega 3 Large Eggs (1)
Pacific oysters (85g)
Mackerel, canned (85g)
Becel Omega 3plus margarine 2tsp
Compliments Smoked Wild Sockeye Salmon (55g)
President’s Choice Blue Menu Oh Mega j Orange Juice (1cup)
Pollock or whiting
Danone Danino Yogourt with DHA (100g)
Flounder or sole
Silk Plus Omega 3 DHA Fortified Soy beverage (1cup)
Sardines in vegetable oil, drained (85g)
Egg (1 large)
Minute Maid Fruit Solutions Omega-3 Orange juice
Tropicana Essentials Omega-3 Orange juice (1 cup)
Fish sticks (6)
Neilson Dairy Oh! 1% milk with DHA
** V-Pure supplement is the first vegan source of DHA and EPA, is made from algae and is recommended by Vesanto Melina, RD specializing in vegetarian and vegan nutrition.
Many brand name products are jumping onto the omega-3 bandwagon and claiming their products are great sources of omega 3. Maybe... but remember to read the ingredient list and NOT the nutrition facts table to find out the omega 3 source. This will tell you if the product has any DHA.
If you see fish oil or algal oil, the product has DHA. We'll look at 2 products today:
Silk Plus Omega-3 DHA Fortified soy milk: The ingredient list show the product has both flaxseed oil and algal oil. So the product contains some DHA. The nutrition facts table says that 1 cup provides 400mg of omega 3- but the small print indicates that only 300mg of that is DHA. Many other ‘Omega-3’ soymilks have no DHA so be aware.
Omega 3 eggs. Many eggs now have omega 3- the chickens are fed flaxseeds and they actually convert some of that ALA to DHA. Some packages tell you how much DHA is present in one egg, some don’t. On average, omega 3 eggs have about 75mg of DHA. However, this DHA doesn’t compensate for the high cholesterol found in the egg yolks (average of 210mg/yolk). Omega 3 eggs have pretty much the same amount of fat and cholesterol than regular eggs and cost 3 times as much. Although recent research has found that total fat and saturated fat have a greater impact on our cholesterol than cholesterol, the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada still recommends 2 egg yolks/week. These omega-3 eggs are not worth it, in my opinion.Sources: http://dhaomega3.org/ ; Liebman, B. Omega Medicine: is fish oil good for what ails you? Nutrition Action Health Letter. Vol 34: 8, Oct 2007 ; http://www.nutrispeak.com/omega_3s__epa___dha.htm ; http://www.lesliebeck.com/ingredient_index.php?featured_food=21