5 healthy foods and omega-3 fortified products to help you get more DHA and EPA in your diet.
Amy Paturel, M.S., M.P.H.
Omega-3 fats are a nutrient powerhouse, shown to improve heart health and mood. Of the omega-3s, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) are the most impressive. "They are longer than other omega-3s (like alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA), so they make your cell membranes more fluid, which helps brain, eye and nerve cells function better," says Kantha Shelke, Ph.D., a spokesperson for the Institute of Food Technologists. Yet most Americans only get 100 mg a day of DHA/EPA, far short of the recommended 250 mg. Find out how you can get more.
Food Sources: Cold-water fish
Where’s the DHA/EPA from? Wild fish make DHA/EPA from the algae they make.
Serving Size: 4 ounces
How Much? 2,085 mg (salmon), 1,110 mg (sardines), 305 mg (light tuna)
Food Sources: Seaweed (nori) & kelp (wakame, kombu or dulse)
Where’s the DHA/EPA from? Both are algae, which produce some DHA/EPA
Serving Size: 1 ounce
How Much? 4-134 mg
Food Sources: Eggs
Where’s the DHA/EPA from? Chickens turn some of the omega-3s from flaxseed in their feed into DHA/EPA.
Serving Size: 1 large egg
How Much? 30-150 mg omega-3s (some of which is DHA/EPA)
Food Sources: Milk
Where’s the DHA/EPA from? Added fish oil (anchovy & sardine) or algal oil.
Serving Size: 1 cup
How Much? 30-50 mg
Food Sources: Peanut Butter
Where’s the DHA/EPA from? Added fish oil.
Serving Size: 3 tablespoons
How Much? 32 mg
Bottom Line: Cold-water fish are the best source. "Nature packages nutrients like DHA/EPA with other substances like fat that facilitate absorption and effectiveness," says Shelke. Fortified foods or a supplement can help up your intake.