15 Oily Fish High In Omega-3 Fatty Acids

The human body cannot produce omega-3 fatty acids, which makes these crucial fats an essential part of the diet.

Generally speaking, seafood is the best source of omega-3, and there is a wealth of oily fish options.

However, since many popular fish options (such as cod) are relatively low in omega-3, which are the best sources?

This article presents a list of oily fish high in omega-3.

Unless otherwise stated, all nutritional data is courtesy of the USDA’s FoodData Central database.

1) Atlantic Mackerel

Cooked Atlantic Mackerel In an Oven Dish.

Mackerel is an oily fish that is available to buy fresh, frozen, or canned.

This popular oily fish is one of the best dietary sources of omega-3; cooked Atlantic mackerel provides 1,422 mg per 3.5 ounces (100 grams) (1).

Omega-3 per 100g Omega-3 per fillet (88g)
1,422 mg 1,251 mg

2) Salmon

Salmon is one of the most common culinary fish, and salmon steak, sashimi, sushi, and smoked salmon are all popular options.

This orange-to-pink fleshed fish also has a high omega-3 content.

3.5 ounces (100 grams) of cooked Atlantic salmon provides 2,586 mg of the fatty acid (2).

Salmon is also an excellent source of beneficial carotenoids such as astaxanthin, lutein, and zeaxanthin (3, 4).

It is also worth pointing out that there are many different types of salmon which all have slightly different nutritional profiles. The most common of these include Atlantic salmon and pink salmon.

Omega-3 per 100g Omega-3 per 1/2 fillet (154g)
2,586 mg 3,982 mg

3) Herring

Herring is one of the most nutritious fish, and it offers high amounts of healthy fats, protein, and essential nutrients.

Furthermore, herring is also one of the most affordable fish, and it is far cheaper than options such as salmon and tuna.

This nutrient-rich oily fish offers 2,217 mg of omega-3 per 3.5 oz (100-gram) serving of Atlantic herring (5).

Omega-3 per 100g Omega-3 per fillet (143g)
2,217 mg 3,171 mg

4) Sablefish

Sablefish is a medium-sized fish species that can grow up to around 25 kg in weight (6).

The fish is also known as ‘black cod,’ and it has a high oil content.

On this note, cooked sablefish offers 2,125 mg of omega-3 per 3.5 oz (100-gram) serving (7).

Omega-3 per 100g Omega-3 per 1/2 fillet (151g)
2,125 mg 3,210 mg

5) Sardines

Sardines may be small, but they are extremely nutritious.

Perhaps the main reason for this is because we eat the whole sardine, including the organ meats it contains.

Sardines are available fresh and canned, and with canned fish being just as nutritious as fresh.

This small fatty fish offers large amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, too; 100-grams of canned sardines provide 1,692 mg of omega-3 (8).

Omega-3 per 100g Omega-3 per can, drained (84g)
1,692 mg 1,421 mg

6) Anchovies

An Open Can of Anchovies.

Anchovies are from the same Clupeiforme family as sardines and herring, but they are smaller in size (9).

However, these small oily fish are equally nutritious, and they are an excellent source of protein, omega-3, vitamins, and minerals.

Canned anchovies offer 2,113 mg of omega-3 per 3.5 oz (100-gram) serving (10).

Omega-3 per 100g Omega-3 per can, drained (45g)
2,113 mg 950 mg

7) Fish Roe

While not technically a fish, roe is an incredibly nutritious fish product.

The nutritional values of fish eggs can vary depending on the specific species of fish.

However, based on mixed-species fish roe, a 3.5 oz (100-gram) serving provides 3,120 mg of omega-3 fatty acids (11).

For a more detailed look at roe, see this guide to salmon roe.

Omega-3 per 100g Omega-3 per oz (28g) serving
3,120 mg 884 mg

8) Sprats

Sprats are delicious oily fish with high omega-3 content.

According to the NCC database, 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of cooked sprats provide 1,380 mg of omega-3 fatty acids (12).

In addition to their fatty acids, sprats are also an excellent source of selenium, vitamin B12, and vitamin D.

Omega-3 per 100g Omega-3 per cup (136g) serving
1,380 mg 1,870 mg

9) Swordfish

The swordfish is a large species of fish that can reach a size of 650 kilograms (13).

As well as being large in size, this oily fish contains a large amount of omega-3 fatty acids.

Per 3.5 oz (100-gram) cooked serving, swordfish provides 1,101 mg of omega-3 (14).

In addition to its fatty acids, swordfish provides a broad range of nutrients, including high levels of B vitamins and selenium.

Omega-3 per 100g Omega-3 per piece (136g)
1,101 mg 1,167 mg

10) Tuna (Bluefin)

Tuna is one of the best dietary sources of omega-3, but there are many different species of tuna.

Bluefin tuna is one of the fattiest varieties, and per 3.5 oz (100-gram) cooked serving, it offers 1,710 mg of omega-3 (15).

This popular fatty fish also contains significant amounts of vitamin B12, with 100 grams providing 453% of the daily value for the nutrient (15, 16).

As one of the most common cuts of sashimi, bluefin tuna also enjoys popularity in Japanese cuisine.

For more on the nutritional values (and mercury content) of tuna, see this guide to the different types.

Omega-3 per 100g Omega-3 per 3 oz (85g)
1,710 mg 1,460 mg

11) Trout

Grilled Trout On a Plate With Lemon Slice and Herbs.

With an orange flesh, trout has a similar appearance to salmon.

There are several different varieties of trout, with rainbow trout being one of the most common.

Like salmon, trout also offers significant provisions of omega-3 – a 3.5 ounce (100-gram) serving of cooked trout offers 1,370 mg of the fatty acid (17).

Omega-3 per 100g Omega-3 per fillet (62g)
1,370 mg 850 mg

12) Kippers

Although kippers look like a unique variety of fish, they are just herring prepared in a certain way.

This process involves cold-smoking kippers over wood and salting them: find out more about kippers here.

Nutritionally, kippers are relatively similar to herring, so they are also an excellent source of omega-3.

This oily fish provides 2,365 mg of omega-3 per 100-gram serving (18).

Omega-3 per 100g Omega-3 per fillet (65g)
2,365 mg 1,538 mg

13) Striped Bass

Bass is a popular fish species that can live in both fresh and saltwater, depending on the specific variety (19).

One such fish is the striped bass, and this fish offers more omega-3 than most other bass varieties too.

Per 3.5 ounce (100-gram) serving, striped bass provides 986 mg of omega-3 (20).

Omega-3 per 100g Omega-3 per fillet (124g)
986 mg 1,223 mg

14) Eel

Compared to other fish species, the eel is unusual in terms of its appearance, and it has a long snake-like body.

However, they are fish, and they have an impressive nutritional profile too.

While eel doe not offer quite as much omega-3 as other oily fish, it still provides a moderate amount.

Per 3.5 ounces (100 grams), eel contains 838 mg of the fatty acid (21).

Omega-3 per 100g Omega-3 per fillet (159g)
838 mg 1,333 mg

15) Catfish

Catfish is generally one of the lower-fat fish species, but it still offers more omega-3 than most lean fish.

For example, despite being relatively low in fat, a 143-gram fillet of cooked catfish still provides 600 mg of omega-3 (22).

Omega-3 per 100g Omega-3 per fillet (143g)
420 mg 600 mg

Omega-3 Per 100 Grams Ranking

To summarize the amount of omega-3 in these fatty fish, the table below shows how each fish compares per 100-gram cooked serving.

Rank Fish Name Omega-3 Per 100 Grams
1 Fish roe 3,120 mg
2 Atlantic salmon 2,586 mg
3 Kippers 2,365 mg
4 Atlantic herring 2,217 mg
5 Sablefish 2,125 mg
6 Anchovies 2,113 mg
7 Tuna (Bluefin) 1,710 mg
8 Sardines 1,692 mg
9 Atlantic mackerel 1,422 mg
10 Sprats 1,380 mg
11 Trout 1,370 mg
12 Swordfish 1,101 mg
13 Striped bass 986 mg
14 Eel 838 mg
15 Catfish 420 mg

Final Thoughts

As this guide shows, there are many different varieties of oily fish that provide good amounts of omega-3.

For anyone wishing to increase their omega-3 levels, oily fish are the best food to eat for that purpose.

The options with the absolute highest amounts of omega-3 are salmon, kippers, herring, and fish roe.

In contrast, the most affordable (and convenient) option is probably sardines.

All in all, for those that enjoy seafood, there is something for everyone.

Photo of author

Michael Joseph, MSc

Michael works as a nutrition educator in a community setting and holds a Master's Degree in Clinical Nutrition. He believes in providing reliable and objective nutritional information to allow informed decisions.