The purpose of this pilot study was to test the validity and reliability of a quantitative n-3 fatty acid food frequency questionnaire (FFQ) for later use with larger groups of individuals. A convenience sample of heart patients provided dietary data via three 24-hour food recalls and FFQs.

Participants were women (n=17) and men (n=11), 43 to 77 years of age. The association of mean daily intake of n-3 fatty acids obtained using food recalls and the FFQ was assessed by Pearson correlation. The reliability of the FFQ was assessed using coefficient alpha. Correlation of n-3 fatty acid intake using the food recalls and the FFQ was r=0.42 (P<0.05). The coefficient alpha for the test-retest of the FFQ was .83. The top two foods, walnuts and flaxseed, contributed 58% of the n-3 fatty acid intake, and the third food, salmon, contributed 5%.

This quantitative n-3 FFQ is a valid instrument for use in place of food recalls for estimating n-3 fatty acid intakes in heart patients and is a reliable instrument to estimate n-3 fatty acid intakes from plant, animal, and seafood sources.

The FFQ should be tested in a larger population. Registered dietitians can use this FFQ to screen for intakes, educate patients on food sources, and measure change in intakes after nutrition intervention.