The Physicians Committee

Get Omega-3s with Ease

  May 12, 2014    

While many people believe that eating fish is necessary to get omega-3 fatty acids and maintain heart and brain health, there is absolutely nothing healthful about fish.

Recent research has even debunked the age-old myth that Eskimos, who ate diets heavy in fish, had a lower risk for heart disease. Fortunately, there are plenty of plant-based sources of omega-3s.

So what do we know about omega-3s?

Omega-3 fatty acids are necessary nutrients that cannot be synthesized by the body, so we need to get them from our food. Since omega-3s do help with cell function, a deficiency in omega-3 fatty acids can result in negative health consequences such as liver and kidney abnormalities, decreased immune function, or dry skin.

While some studies show that omega-3s might help with aging or brain health, omega-3s from fish or other animal products come with some unwanted side effects.

Fish contains toxic contaminants, and all animal products contain cholesterol and saturated fat—and have no fiber, an essential nutrient for digestion, cancer prevention, and weight loss. In my piece for the Huffington Post, I summarize some of the research debunking the health halo of fish oil supplements.  Fast food companies have also jumped in on the popularity of fish during Lent, but don’t take the bait—fish is not a health food.

Even if omega-3s are not the fountain of youth, plant sources of omega-3s are full of fiber and rich in other nutrients. Edamame and walnuts contain omega-3s and also contain protein. Winter squash is packed with omega-3s and is also a great source of vitamin A and vitamin C.

Flaxseeds are easy to incorporate into baked goods, smoothies, and a whole variety of recipes. Research has even shown that women who follow vegan diets have higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids in their blood than those who consume diets rich in fish, meat, and dairy.

Friends or family have questions about omega-3s? Just share the infographic below!



I have to be on a very low fat diet to prevent migraines. I stick with the McDougall Plan (very low fat, vegan, starch-based). I even have to avoid nuts and flax.

because my Dad had dementia, I am concerned about brain-health ... I have been almost-vegan for over 20 years, but I am now becoming a little more aware of omega-3's (I've never eaten fish or supplemented) ... do you think we should take algae supplements (or do you still say we get enough from the foods you mention in this SPECTACULAR info-graphic???)


I have been on a vegetarian diet for 12 years and am now eliminating most dairy as well except for rare occasion. The article mentions Omega3s. Does a vegetarian need to also be concerned with how much DHA is in the diet or can the body make enough DHA and EPA? Are there any studies on this?


What about the estrogens found in flaxseeds? Should men worry about it?
Thank you!

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