Different Types of Omega-3s

May 17, 2012 Print Friendly and PDF

Atlantic salmon contains EPA and DHA Seeds from Flax (left) and canola (right) flowers contain ALA 


There are three commonly studied omega-3 fatty acids: alpha linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).  ALA is consumed predominantly in plant foods, while DHA and EPA are found mostly in seafood.  Research has also shown that eating foods rich in ALA, EPA and DHA prevents dermatitis, scalp inflammation and/or bleeding, impaired wound healing, and growth retardation that can be attributed to omega-3 deficiency.  Recently DHA and EPA are the omega-3s that are touted as having multiple health benefits.  These include: lowered triglycerides, improved pregnancy and birth outcomes; heart disease prevention; reduced fat in the liver; decreased incidence of certain cancers; increased visual acuity; aide and treatment of some mental disorders; and reduced levels of inflammation (which may help with asthma, arthritis, etc.).  For more information about the different fatty acids and their health benefits click on the links below:



Chemical Structure of Common Omega-3s


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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.