You’ve heard that for optimal health, you should fill your diet with omega-3 fats and watch your intake of omega-6 fats, but how do you know which foods to choose?
Omega-6 fats are naturally abundant in our modern diets, while omega-3s are harder to come by.
This guide will provide you with an overview of the omega-3 and omega-6 content of commonly eaten foods so you can tailor your meals to include more of the fats your body is craving (omega-3s) and fewer fats you’re likely already getting in excess (omega-6).
Omega-3 and Omega-6 Content of Commonly Eaten Foods
Fish & Seafood
Of all the categories, fish and seafood will provide you with the most bang for your buck regarding omega-3 fatty acids. That’s because fish eat algae, which is one of the original sources of omega-3 fats (in the DHA and EPA form). Why not just consume algae directly? Well, you could, but it would take a lot of algae to meet your requirements – not to mention that fish tends to be a little more tasty than algae.
Fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, and tuna, tend to hold onto a significant amount of omega-3s, making them an excellent choice if you’re looking to get more of these fatty acids through your diet.
|Fish & Seafood||Serving Size||Grams ω-3 (EPA & DHA)||Grams ω-6 (AA)|
|Clams||6.5 oz can||0.18||0.07|
|New England Clam Chowder||1 cup||0.70||4.94|
|Manhattan Clam Chowder||1 cup||0.16||1.10|
|Cod, Pacific||4 oz||0.15||0.03|
|Crab, Alaskan King||1 leg||0.25||0.08|
|Halibut, Pacific or Atlantic||4 oz||0.31||0.07|
|Mackerel, Pacific||4 oz||2.53||0.29|
|*Pollock, Alaskan, raw||3 oz||0.15||<0.01|
|**Salmon, wild Atlantic||4 oz||3.05||0.64|
|**Salmon, farmed Atlantic||4 oz||3.28||2.20|
|Salmon, wild sockeye, Pacific||4 oz||1.18||0.45|
|Salmon, sockeye, canned||4 oz||1.58||0.19|
|Sardines, canned in water||4 oz can||2.18||0.17|
|***Sardines, canned in oil||3.75 oz||1.48||3.26 (LA)|
|Snapper, fillet||3-oz fillet||0.29||0.02|
|Tuna, light, canned in water||4 oz||0.26||0.02|
|Tuna, blue fin||4 oz||1.94||0.14|
|Tuna, yellow fin||4 oz||0.14||0.05|
|Tuna, albacore, canned in water||4oz||1.14||0.12|
|****Tilapia, farmed, fillet||3.45 oz||0.64||5.89|
|****Catfish, farmed, fillet||5.23 oz||0.28||1.46|
Eggs & Dairy
Due to the naturally occurring fats in animal products, eggs and dairy tend to be higher in omega-6 fats than omega-3 fats. That said, between the two, you’ll get more omega-6 from eggs than you will from dairy. Does that mean you should avoid eggs? Certainly not. Eggs contain several beneficial nutrients and are an excellent source of protein. Pastured eggs are also higher in omega-3s than conventionally raised eggs, so enjoy your eggs; just do so in moderation.
|Eggs & Dairy||Serving Size||Grams ω-3 (ALA)||Grams ω-6 (AA)|
|Egg, hard boiled||1 medium||0.3||0.59|
|Eggs, fried||2 medium||0.13||2.15|
|Eggs, cooked||2 medium||0.07||1.18|
|Eggs, omega-3-rich||2 medium||0.23||1.13|
|Cheese, Blue||1 oz||0.07||0.15|
|Cheese, Cheddar||1 oz||0.04||0.23|
|Cheese, Cottage 2%||4 oz||0.01||0.06|
|Cheese, Feta||1 oz||0.08||0.09|
|Cheese, Gruyere||1 oz||0.12||0.37|
|Cheese, Swiss (Jarlsberg)||1 oz||0.10||0.18|
|Cheese, Jarlsberg reduced fat||1 oz||0.06||0.10|
|Cheese, Gouda||1 oz||0.11||0.07|
|Cheese, Parmesan, hard||1 oz||0.08||0.08|
|Cheese, Roquefort||1 oz||0.20||0.17|
|Yogurt, 2%, Greek||1 cup||0.02||0.14|
|Milk whole||1 cup||0.18||0.29|
|Milk, 2%||1 cup||0.12||0.15|
|Soy milk, unsweetened* contains LA, not AA||1 cup||0.31||2.32 (*LA)|
Meat is another category in which you’ll find higher levels of omega-6 than omega-3 due to the naturally occurring fats in animals. You’ll notice, however, that grass-fed animals have higher levels of omega-3s than conventional. Although grass-fed cuts of meat can be a bit pricey, it may be worth the extra few dollars if your goal is to increase your omega-3 intake.
|Meats||Serving Size||Grams ω-3 (ALA)||Grams ω-6 AA|
|Turkey, breast, roasted||4 oz||0.03||0.31|
|Bacon, pork, pan fried||1 slice||0.03||0.63|
|Steak, sirloin, no visible fat||4 oz||0.04||0.23|
|Steak, tenderloin, grass fed||4 oz||0.13||0.28|
|Lamb chop||1 medium||0.03||0.34|
|Chicken breast||4 oz||0.11||0.93|
Fats & Oils
With the exception of flaxseed oil, which boasts an impressive 7.27 grams of omega-3 (ALA), you’ll find that most fats and oils tend to be much higher in omega-6 fats – particularly seed oils. Of course, you can’t cook with flaxseed oil because omega-3s are very unstable under heat, so reserve this oil for your recipes that don’t require heat, like salad dressings. For cooking fats, your best bet is to try to mitigate high levels of omega-6 rather than increase levels of omega-3. Coconut oil and butter are fantastic choices for cooking.
Alternatively, you could go with a high-oleic oil like avocado oil. But keep in mind that avocado oil still contains a high level of omega-6 fats.
|Fats & Oils||Serving Size||Grams ω-3 (ALA)||Grams ω-6 LA|
|Butter||1 tsp||0.04||0.45 (AA)|
|Coconut oil||1 TBLS||0||0|
|Safflower oil||1 TBLS||0||3.39|
|Soy oil||1 TBLS||0.93||6.94|
|Corn oil||1 TBLS||.05||2.43|
|Canola oil||1 TBLS||1.28||2.61|
|Olive oil||1 TBLS||0.10||1.32|
|Mayonnaise, made with tofu||1 TBLS||0.31||2.18|
|Cotton seed oil||1 TBLS||0.03||7.03|
|Flaxseed oil||1 TBLS||7.27||1.94|
|Thousand Island||1 TBLS||0.34||2.57|
|Blue Cheese||1 TBLS||0.48||3.65|
|Sesame Seed||1 TBLS||0.30||3.48|
|Green Goddess||1 TBLS||0.41||3.07|
Nuts & Seeds
Nuts and seeds can make a fantastic snack, especially on the go, but most naturally contain higher levels of omega-6 than omega-3. In fact, chia seeds and flax seeds are the only two items in this category that contain higher levels of omega-3 than omega-6. Like eggs, however, this doesn’t mean you should avoid nuts and seeds; they’re naturally rich in fiber, fat-soluble vitamins, and protein. So keep these guys in your diet, just do so in moderation.
|Nuts & Seeds||Serving Size||Grams ω-3 ALA||Grams ω-6 LA|
|Sunflower seeds||1 oz||<0.01||2.62|
|Brazil nuts||1 nut||<0.01||0.97|
|Mixed nuts||1 oz||0.05||2.99|
|Macadamia nuts||1 oz||0.06||0.37|
|Pine nuts||1 TBLS||0.07||2.11|
|Pumpkin seeds||1 oz||0.05||5.61|
|Sunflower seeds||1 oz||0.02||6.53|
|Peanuts dry roast||1 oz||0.01||2.75|
|Peanut butter||1 TBLS||0.01||2.27|
|Sunflower butter||1 TBLS||<0.01||1.56|
|Chia seeds||1 TBLS||2.90||1.00|
|Flax seeds||1 TBLS||1.60||0.41|
Unsurprisingly, most snack foods, which are highly processed and made with seed oils, are a significant source of omega-6 fats. That’s just one of the reasons that health professionals agree that we should use moderation around these types of foods.
|Snacks||Serving Size||Grams ω-3 ALA||Grams ω-6 LA|
|Popcorn microwave||1 cup||0.13||5.30|
|Popcorn air popped||1 cup||<0.01||0.2|
|Popcorn oil popped||1 cup||0.31||2.51|
|Potato chips||1 oz||0.01||6.53|
|Potato chips, low fat||1 oz||0.01||4.63|
|Corn puffs, twists||1 oz||0.09||4.87|
|Corn chips, white corn||1 oz||0.07||2.75|
|Corn chips, blue corn||1 oz||0.01||2.64|
|Sweet potato fries||1 oz||0.11||2.01|
|French fries, MacDonalds||Medium order||1.09||7.80|
|Nachos with cheese||20 chips||0.66||8.41|
|Kind Fruit & Nut Bar||1 bar||0.12||2.16|
|Kind Bar Peanut/ Dark Chocolate||1 bar||0.28||2.85|
|Rice crackers||1 oz||0.01||0.76|
|Ritz crackers||1 oz||0.38||3.79|
|Dark chocolate bar||1 oz||<0.01||0.35|
Cereal, Grains, Bread, Pasta
Since they’re not typically a significant source of fat, most items in this category will have lower levels of omega-3s and omega-6. Furthermore, the omega-3s you find in plant foods are in the ALA form, which is only minimally converted into DHA and EPA. Grains also tend to be richer in omega-6 than omega-3, so if you’re looking for a significant source of omega-3, you won’t find it here.
|Cereal, Grains, Bread, Pasta||Serving Size||Grams ω-3 ALA||Grams ω-6 LA|
|Oatmeal, regular cooking||1 cup||0.04||0.92|
|Kashi Go Lean Crunch||1 cup||0.22||0.74|
|Arrowhead Mills 7 Grain||1 cup||0.03||0.45|
|Crispy brown rice cereal||1 cup||0.01||0.25|
|Granola Cascadian Farm||1 cup||0.06||1.16|
|Wheat bread||1 slice||0.03||0.29|
|Rye bread||1 slice||0.02||0.24|
|Gluten-free bread||1 slice||0.03||0.41|
|Pasta, whole wheat, cooked||1 cup||0.01||0.28|
|Pasta, corn, cooked||1 cup||0.01||0.44|
|Pasta, brown rice, cooked||1 cup||0||0|
|Buckwheat soba noodles, cooked||1 cup||<0.01||0.03|
|Brown rice, steamed||1 cup||0.03||0.60|
|Millet, cooked||1 cup||0.05||0.84|
|Quinoa, cooked||1 cup||0.19||1.80|
|Buckwheat groats, cooked||1 cup||0.07||0.87|
Once again, vegetables tend to be much higher in carbohydrates than fat, so you’ll only find a scant amount of omega-3 and omega-6 in the items in this category. That is, with the exception of corn which contains .51 grams of omega-6 per one cup serving.
|Vegetables||Serving Size||Grams ω-3 (ALA)||Grams ω-6 LA|
|Romaine lettuce, shredded||1 cup||0.05||0.02|
|Kale, 1” pieces||1 cup||0.03||0.02|
|Swiss chard||1 cup||<0.01||0.02|
|Lettuce, mixed greens||1 cup||0.04||0.02|
|Broccoli, chopped||1 cup||0.02||0.02|
|Cauliflower, chopped||1 cup||0.02||0.01|
|Brussels sprouts, cooked||1 sprout||0.04||0.02|
|Olives, black, green||1 medium||0.01||0.035|
Beans & Legumes
Beans and legumes offer a source of plant-based protein, but unfortunately, they don’t offer a significant source of omega-3 fats. When it comes to omega-6, you’ll notice that in this category, the less processed an item is, the lower the omega-6 content.
|Beans, legumes||Serving Size||Grams ω-3 (ALA)||Grams ω-6 LA|
|Garbanzos, canned, drained||1 cup||0.06||1.53|
|Black beans, canned, drained||1 cup||0.30||0.23|
|Pinto beans, canned, drained||1 cup||0.27||0.20|
|Lentils, cooked from dried||1 cup||0.07||0.27|
|Split peas, canned, drained||1 cup||0.05||0.27|
|Split pea soup w/out meat, canned||1 cup||0.11||0.78|
|Navy beans, canned, drained||1 cup||0.32||0.25|
|Tofu, firm||4 oz||0.73||5.47|
Recommended Levels of Omega-3 and Omega-6
So how much omega-3 and omega-6 fat should you be consuming daily?
First, it’s important to understand that our modern diets are heavily skewed towards omega-6 while significantly lacking omega-3s. Ideally, we would be consuming around 2:1 to 4:1 omega-6 to omega-3s, but today our ratios are closer to 15:1. That’s quite a jump from where our ancestors were, with a ratio that looked more like 1:1 .
There are no official standards around the amount of omega-3s and omega-6s you should consume daily, but several health organizations have weighed in on the matter.
When it comes to omega-6, the general consensus is that we simply need to reduce the amount we’re getting through our diets. As you can see, we’re overdoing it with this nutrient and driving our omega3:omega6 ratio way out of range.
There’s currently no universal recommendation for the daily intake of EPA and DHA. Recommended intakes from expert organizations vary from 0.3-4 g/day, with some being geared towards specific health outcomes. For example, the European Food Safety Authority suggests 3 g/day to lower blood pressure and 2-4 g/day to lower triglyceride levels . The lower end of those numbers may be doable through diet if you eat fish every day, but for most folks it may be a stretch.
So, what are you to do if you’re not a fish lover or if, like many, you have concerns about the health of the fish in our oceans?
This is where high-quality fish oil can come in to make up the difference.
When searching for a fish oil supplement, there are a few key points to keep in mind:
- Look for fish oil in the triglyceride form, which is the most bioavailable form, and also indicates that the oil is natural (i.e., non-synthetic).
- Ensure that the antioxidants in your fish oil are from natural sources, like curcumin or astaxanthin.
- Be sure to check the serving size and dose. You’ll want to ensure that your supplement provides an adequate dose of EPA and DHA per serving.
- Look for fish oil from small fish like sardines, anchovies, and mackerel, as opposed to larger fatty fish. Smaller fish pick up fewer toxins, so your fish oil will naturally be more pure.
Our modern diets have turned our omega-3 to omega-6 ratio on its head. Even if you consume high-quality, organic, grass-fed food, you will still likely struggle to get enough omega-3s to match the number of omega-6s naturally occurring in our foods today.
The solution? Find a high-quality fish oil supplement that can give you a boost in omega-3s. Our Triple Power Omega Fish Oil is made from small fish such as sardines, anchovies, and mackerel and provides 1200 mg of combined DHA and EPA in their natural triglyceride form per serving. Moreover, we use natural antioxidants (astaxanthin and curcumin) to ensure your fish oil remains fresh.
While getting your nutrients through a diet is always ideal, there are some cases where food alone can’t do the trick. High-quality supplements can be a game-changer for both your immediate and long-term health.
Which vegetables are high in omega-3?
Vegetables tend to be lower in fat, which means their omega-3 content is generally not very impressive. That said, many vegetables have higher levels of omega-3 than omega-6; some examples include Brussels sprouts, spinach, lettuce, and cauliflower.
Are eggs high in omega-3?
Eggs are generally higher in omega-6 than they are in omega-3 fats. However, some farmers provide their chickens with feed high in omega-3s, which yields eggs with a richer omega-3 content.
Is avocado rich in omega-3?
Avocados contain omega-3 fats but are much higher in omega-9 monounsaturated fats.
What foods are high in omega-6?
Foods with the highest omega-6 content include vegetable oils (corn, soy, cottonseed, etc.), conventionally raised meat and processed snack foods.
Do eggs have omega-3 or 6?
Eggs contain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids but tend to be higher in omega-6 fats unless the chickens are intentionally provided with omega-3-rich feed.