Foods High in Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA)

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Foods High in Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA)

Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is a type of long-chain omega-3 fatty acid required for the healthy development of the brain and retina (eyesight). (1,2) Further, some studies show cognitive benefits from DHA in older adults, improving memory and learning. (3)

DHA is found primarily in fish and seafood. It can also be created by the body using alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) (4), however, only 3% - 6% of ALAs get converted into DHAs. (5) Since DHA is important for brain development, it is present in breast milk. (6) Pregnant and lactating women should aim to consume 0.2 - 0.3g of DHA per day. (7)

Foods high in DHA include salmon, tuna, canned tuna, mackerel, white fish, canned sardines, squid (calamari), mussels, oysters, cod, fish eggs (roe), pickled herring, and snow crab. Pregnant women should avoid mackerel, swordfish, and tilefish due to their potential mercury content. All other sources should be considered safe and healthy as long as they are fresh and well-prepared.

Below is a list of foods high in DHA ranked by a common serving size. For more, see the extended list of foods rich in DHA, and the nutrient ranking of 200 foods high in DHA fats. For omega 3 fats see the list of foods high in omega 3 fats and foods with a high omega 3 to 6 ratio.

List of Foods Highest in DHA

Salmon Fillets1 Salmon
3g Omega 3 per 1g Omega 6
DHA
per 6oz Fillet
DHA
per 100g
DHA
per 200 Calories
2.48g1.46g1.41g
  • 2.48g DHA in 1 tbsp of salmon oil
  • 0.637g DHA per 3oz of canned salmon
  • 0.076g DHA in 1oz of smoked salmon
Tuna Fillet2 Tuna (Bluefin)
24g Omega 3 per 1g Omega 6
DHA
in a 6oz Fillet
DHA
per 100g
DHA
per 200 Calories
1.94g1.14g1.24g
  • 0.54g DHA per 3oz of canned tuna
  • 0.4g DHA in 6oz of skipjack tuna
  • 0.18g DHA in 6oz of yellowfin tuna
Atlantic Mackerel Fillet3 Atlantic Mackerel
9g Omega 3 per 1g Omega 6
DHA
per 6oz Fillet
DHA
per 100g
DHA
per 200 Calories
1.19g0.7g0.53g

More whitefish high in DHA

  • 1.58g per 5oz Atlantic herring fillet
  • 1.38g per 6oz swordfish fillet
  • 1.27g per 5oz Pacific herring fillet
  • 1.13g per 6oz (170g) shark fillet
  • 1.08g in 3.5oz (100g) of steelhead trout
  • 0.93g per 4.5oz striped bass fillet
  • 0.74g per 4.5oz rainbow trout fillet
  • 0.62g per 4oz sea bass fillet
  • 0.56g per 4oz pompano fillet
  • 0.38g per 3oz pollock fillet
  • 0.36g per 4.5 oz walleye pike fillet
  • 0.28g per 6oz Atlantic cod fillet
  • 0.26g in 1oz of smoked trout
A can of sardines4 Canned Sardines
1g Omega 3 per 4g Omega 6
DHA
per Cup
DHA
per 100g
DHA
per 200 Calories
0.76g0.51g0.49g
  • 0.62g DHA per oz of dried sardines
Calamri rings5 Squid (Calamari)
201g Omega 3 per 1g Omega 6
DHA
per Cup Cooked
DHA
per 100g
DHA
per 200 Calories
0.59g0.42g0.74g
  • 0.32g DHA per 3oz of fried calamari
  • 0.14g DHA per 3oz of cooked octopus
Mussels6 Mussels
23g Omega 3 per 1g Omega 6
DHA
per 3oz
DHA
per 100g
DHA
per 200 Calories
0.43g0.51g0.59g
  • 0.12g DHA in 3oz of clams
Oysters on a plate7 Oysters
22g Omega 3 per 1g Omega 6
DHA
per 3oz Serving
DHA
per 100g
DHA
per 200 Calories
0.43g0.5g0.61g

Oysters are also very high in iron.

Salmon Roe8 Fish Roe (Ikura, Caviar)
84g Omega 3 per 1g Omega 6
DHA
per Tblsp
DHA
per 100g
DHA
per 200 Calories
0.19g1.36g1.91g
Herring9 Pickled Herring
7g Omega 3 per 1g Omega 6
DHA
per Oz
DHA
per 100g
DHA
per 200 Calories
0.16g0.55g0.42g
A crab claw10 Snow Crab (Queen Crab)
61g Omega 3 per 1g Omega 6
DHA
per 3oz
DHA
per 100g
DHA
per 200 Calories
0.12g0.15g0.25g

More Crab High in DHA

  • 0.14g in an average Dungeness crab (127g / 4.5oz)
  • 0.076g in 1 cup of flaked blue crab meat
  • 0.1g per 3oz of Alaskan King Crab
  • 0.067g per 3oz of lobster
  • 0.024g per 3oz of imitation crab meat (surimi)

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Foods high in DHA include salmon, tuna, canned tuna, mackerel, white fish, canned sardines, squid (calamari), mussels, oysters, cod, fish eggs (roe), pickled herring, and snow crab.

More Foods Rich inDocosahexaenoic Acid (DHA)

FoodServingDHA
1 Sardine Oilper tbsp1.45g
2 Menhaden Oilper tbsp1.16g
3 Anchoviesper 3oz0.77g
4 Dried Salted Herringper oz0.75g
5 Herring Oilper tbsp0.57g
6 Cod Liver Oilper tsp0.49g
7 Cevicheper cup0.32g
8 Lobster Bisqueper cup0.2g
9 New England Clam Chowderper can0.13g
10 Conchper cup, sliced0.09g
11 Dried Octopusper oz0.09g
12 Cooked Quinoaper cup0.03g
13 Crayfishper 3oz0.02g
14 Scallopsper oz0.02g
15 Hard Boiled Eggsper egg0.02g

Health Benefits of Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA)

  • Reduced risk of cardiovascular disease - Studies suggest that consumption of 1 gram of omega 3s per day helps reduce the risk of all-cause mortality in patients with known coronary heart disease. (8) This is especially true of the EPA (eicosapentaenoic fatty acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) forms of omega 3s.(8,9)
  • Reduced severity of dementia and mental decline - Omega 3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of cognitive decline, but not Alzheimer's. (10) The association is stronger for people over 55 years old. Linking diet to health is difficult, however, and studies do not always show benefits for mental health. (11) With that being said, there is very little harm in consuming a 1g supplement of omega 3 or eating more omega 3 foods.
  • Alleviation of arthritis and inflammation - Several studies associate omega 3 consumption with alleviation and modulation of pain from swollen arthritic joints. (12) One double-blind randomized trial gave participants 2 doses (1.8g and 2.1g) of omega 3 in the form of EPA and DHA. Patients who consumed the omega3s vs placebo showed improvement in arthritis based on a physician's evaluation and were also able to reduce the amount of pain medication they consume. (13)
  • Reduced triglyceride levels - As little as 1 gram per day of fish oil (0.21 g EPA and 0.12 g DHA) reduce triglyceride levels in people with high blood cholesterol and triglycerides. (14) Higher doses of omega 3s (EPA and DHA) also help reduce triglyceride levels with little ill effect on total blood cholesterol. For people with blood triglycerides over 500mg/dl a prescription of omega 3 supplements is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration as an effective treatment. (15)
  • Improvement of ADHD in children - At least one double-blind dose-response study found that omega 3 supplements in addition to a drug of choice (methylphenidate) showed promising results over those who did not take omega 3 supplements. Children were given 100mg - 400mg of omega 3 depending on weight. More studies need to be done to confirm this finding. (16)
  • Enhanced Sleep - Omega 3 consumption is associated with better sleep. In one study participants were either given salmon 3 times a week or a similar serving of a food low in omega 3s like pork, chicken, or beef. The people who consumed salmon experienced lower sleep latency (fell asleep faster), maintained better heart rate variability, and self-reported better sleep quality and daily functioning. (17)
  • Association with reduced anxiety and depression - Initial studies show a positive association between consuming fish and omega-3 fats reducing anxiety and depression. (18,19) Studies are still preliminary and more studies need to be conducted to provide a stronger link between omega-3s, mental health, and stress relief.

About the Data

Data for the curated food lists comes from the USDA Food Data Central Repository.

You can check our data against the USDA by clicking the (Source) link at the bottom of each food listing.

Note: When checking data please be sure the serving sizes are the same. In the rare case you find any difference, please contact us and we will fix it right away.

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View more nutrients with the nutrient ranking tool, or see ratios with the nutrient ratio tool.

Data Sources and References

  1. Galli C. Health benefits of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) Pharmacol Res. 1999 Sep;40(3):203. doi: 10.1006/phrs.1999.0493. 10479461
  2. Uauy R, Mena P, Rojas C. Essential fatty acids in visual and brain development Proc Nutr Soc. 2000 Feb;59(1):3-15. doi: 10.1017/s0029665100000021. 10828169
  3. Yurko-Mauro K. Beneficial effects of docosahexaenoic acid on cognition in age-related cognitive decline Curr Alzheimer Res. 2010 May;7(3):190-6. doi: 10.2174/156720510791050911. 20088810
  4. Pawlosky R, Hibbeln J, Lin Y, Salem N Jr. Conversion of alpha-linolenic acid to eicosapentaenoic, docosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids in young women Br J Nutr. 2003 Nov;90(5):993-4; discussion 994-5. doi: 10.1079/bjn2003985. 14667193
  5. Broughton KS, Bayes J, Culver B. Can adults adequately convert alpha-linolenic acid (18:3n-3) to eicosapentaenoic acid (20:5n-3) and docosahexaenoic acid (22:6n-3)? Nutr Res. 2010 Oct;30(10):731-8. doi: 10.1016/j.nutres.2010.09.005. 21056289
  6. Muskiet FA, Kuipers RS, Smit EN, Joordens JC. Docosahexaenoic and arachidonic acid concentrations in human breast milk worldwide Am J Clin Nutr. 2007 Dec;86(6):1802-3; author reply 1803-4. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/86.5.1802. 18065601
  7. Hoffman DR, Boettcher JA, Diersen-Schade DA. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and the developing central nervous system (CNS) - Implications for dietary recommendations Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2009 Aug-Sep;81(2-3):151-8. doi: 10.1016/j.plefa.2009.05.003. Epub 2009 Jun 7. 19505812
  8. Covington MB. Omega-3 fatty acids and cardiovascular disease Am Fam Physician. 2004 Jul 1;70(1):133-40. 15259529
  9. Kapoor K, Alfaddagh A, Al Rifai M, Bhatt DL, Budoff MJ, Nasir K, Miller M, Welty FK, McEvoy JW, Dardari Z, Shapiro MD, Blumenthal RS, Tsai MY, Blaha MJ. Effect of omega-3 fatty acids on cardiovascular outcomes: A systematic review and meta-analysis J Am Heart Assoc. 2021 Jun;10(11):e021431. doi: 10.1161/JAHA.121.021431. Epub 2021 May 27. 34041918
  10. Kosti RI, Kasdagli MI, Kyrozis A, Orsini N, Lagiou P, Taiganidou F, Naska A. Omega-3 fatty acids and cognitive function Nutr Rev. 2022 May 9;80(6):1445-1458. doi: 10.1093/nutrit/nuab078. 34605891
  11. Bo Y, Zhang X, Wang Y, You J, Cui H, Zhu Y, Pang W, Liu W, Jiang Y, Lu Q. Omega-3 fatty acids and cognitive decline: a systematic review Nutrients. 2017 Jan 10;9(1):54. doi: 10.3390/nu9010054. 28075381
  12. Simopoulos AP. The Effect of Omega-3 Fatty Acids on Rheumatoid Arthritis Am J Clin Nutr. 1991 Sep;54(3):438-63. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/54.3.438. 1908631
  13. Bahadori B, Uitz E, Thonhofer R, Trummer M, Pestemer-Lach I, McCarty M, Krejs GJ. The Effect of Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Patients With Active Rheumatoid Arthritis Receiving DMARDs Therapy: Double-Blind Randomized Controlled Trial JPEN J Parenter Enteral Nutr. 2010 Mar-Apr;34(2):151-5. doi: 10.1177/0148607109342130. 20375422
  14. McKenney JM, Sica D. Triglyceride-lowering effect of omega-3 LC-polyunsaturated fatty acids--a review Pharmacotherapy. 2007 May;27(5):715-28. doi: 10.1592/phco.27.5.715. 17461707
  15. McKenney JM, Sica D. Fish oil and the management of hypertriglyceridemia Pharmacotherapy. 2007 May;27(5):715-28. doi: 10.1592/phco.27.5.715. 17461707
  16. Akhondzadeh S, Mohammadi MR, Khademi M. Omega-3 and Zinc supplementation as complementary therapies in children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder BMC Psychiatry. 2004 Apr 8;4:9. doi: 10.1186/1471-244X-4-9. 15070418
  17. Hansen AL, Olson G, Dahl L, Thornton D, Grung B, Graff IE, Fr√łyland L, Thayer JF. Fish consumption, sleep, daily functioning, and heart rate variability Nutrients. 2014 Nov 26;6(12):5405-18. doi: 10.3390/nu6125405. 25431880
  18. Ross BM, Seguin J, Sieswerda LE. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and anxiety disorders Lipids Health Dis. 2007 Sep 18;6:21. doi: 10.1186/1476-511X-6-21. 17877810
  19. Wu S, Ding Y, Wu F, Li R, Hou J, Mao P. Fish consumption and risk of depression: Epidemiological evidence from prospective studies Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 2015 Jan;48:1-9. doi: 10.1016/j.neubiorev.2014.11.008. Epub 2014 Nov 21. 25446949
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