Last Updated on October 22, 2020 by Michael Joseph
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
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|
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).
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|
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|
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|
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 both of these choices are nutritious options.
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|
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|
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|
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).
As one of the most common cuts of sashimi, bluefin tuna also enjoys popularity in Japanese cuisine.
|Omega-3 per 100g||Omega-3 per 3 oz (85g)|
|1,710 mg||1,460 mg|
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|
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|
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|
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|
|4||Atlantic herring||2,217 mg|
|7||Tuna (Bluefin)||1,710 mg|
|9||Atlantic mackerel||1,422 mg|
|13||Striped bass||986 mg|
As this guide shows, there are many different varieties of oily fish that provide good amounts of omega-3.
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.