diabetes supplement
Diabetes Diet

Sources of Omega-3

The best way for us to boost the amount of omega-3 fats in our diet might be to come to New Zealand. This country must have the largest offering of fish in the world.

This month I am vacationing on the country’s South Island and have been feasting on all sorts of fish. I know that many people don’t love fish as much as I do. But even those who aren’t particularly found of them will certainly find some varieties and different preparations to suit their taste buds.

Those of us who have diabetes really need the benefits to our heart health that regularly eating fish provide. Everyone’s hearts are healthier when we consume high levels of the long-chain omega-3 fats that cold-water fish in particuar have.

Of course, coming to New Zealand isn’t the only way to increase our omega-3 consumption. In fact, eating fish isn’t the only way either. For starters, we don’t actually have to limit ourself to cold-water fish, even though these fish have the most omega-3.

Take a quick look through the KIM-2 database, which I have written about earlier in this series of articles on achieving a good balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fats. These two types of polyunsaturated fats compete in our bodies. High levels of omega-3 fats are anti-inflammatory, while high levels of omega-6 fats are pro-inflammatory.

The KIM-2 database does show that the cold-water fish like salmon and sardines have extraordinarily good ratios of omega-3 to omega-6 fats. But it also doesn’t show ANY fish with more omega-6 than omega-3. That’s one reason why I am eating fish with Maori names that I have never heard of and which don’t appear in the KIM-2 database.

And it’s not just fish where we can get our long-chain omega-3s. The world also has a great variety of seafood that is high in omega-3.

Beyond fish and seafood we have fish oil or krill oil to supplement our omega-3 level. These supplements come in either liquid or capsule form. Some people who don’t like the taste of the liquid do very well with capsules.

But what about the dilemma that vegetarians and vegans face? Even this is not a problem. Think for a moment where fish and seafood find the ultimate source of their omega-3 fats. That source is the lowest on the food chain, a plant called algae.

We can skip the intermediate links in the chain and go ourselves directly to the source. Several companies now offer long-chain omega-3 fats in vegan algae.

Those capsules aren’t cheap. On the other hand coming to New Zealand to eat fish isn’t either.

P.S: I originally wrote this article for HealthCentral.com on March 11, 2010. I am now back in the U.S. after vacationing in New Zealand. You can read about the trip here: http://www.mendosa.com/fitnessblog/?cat=17

This article is based on an earlier version of my article published by HealthCentral.

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  • David Mendosa at

    Dear Luis,

    Fish first and foremost. Then fish or krill oil.


  • Kristi at

    I’d be interested to know what the best food options are for people who don’t like fish but want to up their omega 3 intake?

  • Luis at

    Hello, there are many types of Omega 3: algae, fish, vegetables ,…. you explain which are recommended in cases of diabetes and in elderly
    Regards, Luis

  • J. A. Kissane at

    A common misperception is that by consuming farm-raised fish we help the wild fish – particlarly salmon while gaining Omega-3 fatty acids. In reality, fish farms do more harm to estuaries needed by salmon and other fish, they spread sisease and sea lice, and escapees impact wild fish populations. Add to those negatives, the fact that tehy are fed processed artificially-colored food that diminishes the Omega -3 fatty acid levels to a level closer to pork than wild-caught salmon and there is no reason beyond cost to eat farm-raised salmon – or what I refer to as Gilled Pork.

  • alfredoe at

    Hi All. Eating fish has no problems, if you don’t do it too often. But if you want to supplement your diet with the proper amounts of omega 3 by just eating fish, it could be a health risk. You would have to eat fish almost every day and that could mean dangerous amounts of mercury in your nervous system.

    It is important to have in mind that there are certain conditions to get the benefits fish oil can bring.

    You need to take a good quality fish oil, free from mercury and other contaminants. That is a molecularly distilled fish oil.

    Then, you need to take a minimum amount of fish oil, krill oil or cod liver oil at a certain frequency.

    There is not an establish amount of omega 3 for any health benefit but I recommend to take at least 900 mg per day of omega 3 fats (close to 3.000 mg of fish oil), EPA plus DHA, per day. You should increase these amounts if you are overweight or you have degenerative disorders, like hypertension or high triglycerides.

    Also, you should lower your intake of omega 6 fats (mostly grains and grain oils) since omega 3 and omega 6 counteract each other in the body. The best way to reduce omega 6 fats is to eliminate all starches from your diet, that is all grains and grain oil.

    Please read more at http://www.omega-3-fish-oil-wonders.com/fish-oil-and-diabetes.html

    Best wishes,