The Truth About Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Walnuts vs. Fish

The omega-3s in walnuts and fish are not created equal. Many people believe that they are the same, but unfortunately, that’s not the case.

This is not to say that you’re not getting as much benefits from walnuts as you are with fish. It’s to say that they are both beneficial to include in your diet. 

There are many different types of fat in foods. The fats in fish are much healthier than the fats from plants.

In plants, the omega-3 is a-linolenic acid (ALA). The omega-3 in fish is eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosapentaenoic acid (DHA). The human body cannot make EPA or DHA. The only way our body can get them is by eating them directly (from fish) or using a building block like ALA. The body can take ALA to make EPA and DHA in the liver.

Since the body needs to work to make EPA and DHA when it receives ALA, it’s not as efficient. The composition is different. The body cannot replicate the exact reactions that come from the EPA and DHA from fish.

According to Philip C. Calder, who is a professor of Nutritional Immunology at the University of Southampton says, “The human body can convert the plant omega-3s into the fish omega-3s but in many people this process does not seem to work very well. One reason for that might be the high amount of omega-6s that people eat – these stop the body’s conversion of plant omega-3s.”

What this translates to is that people who only get their omega-3s from plants will remain low in DHA and EPA.

This is important to know because both types of omega-3s are important. The long-chain fatty acids from fish protect people by reducing the risks of dementia and cardiovascular and heart disease. The omega 3s from plants helps protect cell membranes to ensure they have enough energy and energy store.


Vary your diet as much as possible. You shouldn’t get nutrients from only one type of food. You should eat a variety of foods (meat and plant based), so you can benefit from all of them. Be sure to eat fish or take fish oil pills. Get in your plant-based omega 3s with walnuts. Limit your omega-6s which is poultry, eggs, etc. because most people get too much of that. Balance is key when it comes to eating healthfully. Understand what to eat that is healthy and change it up as much as possible.