Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for good health. These fats help the body and its cells do their jobs well.
A few of the best sources of omega-3s are oily fish like salmon, trout, mackerel, and herring. But what about vegan sources? We will show you 7 of the best vegan sources of omega-3 in a minute but before that let’s look at what omega-3 is.
There are three forms of Omega-3 fatty acids found in foods, and these are;
- EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid)
- DHA (docosahexaenoic acid
- ALA (alpha-linolenic acid)
The first two properties are found in fish, while the last one is located in plants.
To satisfy the EPA and DHA needs, health experts recommend eating Omega-3 fatty acid-rich fish at least twice a week.
While your body cannot produce Omega-3 fatty acids on its own, it can process some ALA to DHA or EPA.
But, what if you are following a vegan diet and need to look elsewhere for your Omega-3 fatty acids?
Look no further because these 7 omega-3 rich plant-based options will have you covered!
A single ounce of walnuts contains a whopping 2,542 milligrams of Omega-3 fatty acids. Enough to satisfy an entire day’s requirements.
Walnuts are high in Omega-3 fatty acids and balanced fats and contain approximately 65 percent fat by weight too.
Because of their Omega-3 content, walnuts have been related to improved brain health.
When the right fats are available, cell membranes are able to function better and can transport nutrients in and out of cells more efficiently.
Additionally, walnuts contain melatonin, a hormone that is believed to help regulate sleep patterns and prevent insomnia-like symptoms.
2. Chia Seeds.
Chia seeds are well-known for their numerous health benefits, providing substantial fiber and protein for each portion. They’re a good source of ALA Omega-3 fatty acids from plants.
Chia seeds have been used as a food source by the ancient Mayans and Aztecs, who ground the seeds into flour. The Mexican Indians also used chia seeds as an energy booster while exercising or working in the fields.
At the beginning of the 20th century, chia was rediscovered–and its popularity has been on a steady rise ever since.
They are an edible seed that is extremely rich in Omega-3 fatty acids. These tiny seeds come from a plant called Salvia Hispanica, which is native to Mexico and Guatemala.
Chia seeds have a gelatinous texture when soaked in water and they can be used in many different types of foods–baked goods, jams, salads, or any other food you like.
3. Flax Seeds.
Flax seeds are dietary juggernauts, offering a decent amount of fiber, protein, magnesium, and manganese in each portion. They’re also an outstanding source of Omega-3s.
Several studies have shown the heart-healthy advantages of flax seeds, primarily due to their Omega-3 fatty acid value.
Both flax seeds and flaxseed oil have been found to lower cholesterol in different analyses.
Another study revealed that flax seeds significantly lower blood pressure, especially among those with high blood pressure.
One ounce of flax seeds provides 6,388 milligrams of ALA Omega-3 fatty acids, exceeding the recommended intake level. Flax seeds are easy to add to your diet.
4. Hemp Seed.
Hemp seeds, in addition to protein, magnesium, copper, and zinc, have around 30 percent oil and contain a good amount of Omega-3s.
Research carried out on animals has revealed that the Omega-3 fatty acids present in hemp seeds can benefit overall health.
They accomplish this by preventing blood clots and assisting the heart in its recovery following a heart attack.
An ounce of hemp seeds contains around 6,000 milligrams of ALA. To add crunch and improve the Omega-3 quality of your snack, scatter hemp seeds on top of yogurt or blend them into a smoothie.
Preparing homemade hemp seed granola bars is a simple way to mix hemp seeds with other nutritious ingredients like flaxseeds to get more Omega-3s.
5. Perilla Oil.
This oil, obtained from perilla seeds, is also used in Korean cuisine as a dipping sauce and cooking oil.
Besides being a versatile and aromatic ingredient, it’s also a vital source of Omega-3 fatty acids.
One research study conducted in 20 older adults substituted soybean oil with perilla oil and discovered that it triggered ALA levels in the blood to double.
In the long run, it contributes to a rise in EPA and DHA blood levels.
Perilla oil is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, with ALA taking up an average of 64 percent of this seed oil.
Each tablespoon contains approximately 9,000 milligrams of ALA Omega-3 fatty acids.
Avocados are a fruit-vegetable hybrid that’s native to Mexico and is one of the many fruits that contain omega-3 fatty acids.
Prior studies have been done linking avocados with beneficial properties, such as a reduced risk of cancer and heart disease.
As well, avocados contain unique properties that make them stand out from other foods containing omega-3s.
For example, an avocado’s oil is more bioavailable than most fish oils. This means it dissolves more easily in liquids than something like fish oil would, and thus is easier to consume for those who aren’t fans of taking pills or capsules.
And since avocados could be incorporated into many different dishes (sandwiches, fajitas, quesadillas) it could be easier to make them part of your diet over say fish or krill oil capsules which might not taste quite as good on their own.
There are a number of different types of seaweed, but not all of them contain omega-3 fatty acids.
The most common type that people refer to is the red sea lettuce (or dulse). This doesn’t actually look like lettuce at all. It’s a bright reddish-purple color and it can be found growing on rocky shores along the Atlantic and Pacific coastlines as well as in Hawaii.
It has a salty taste, similar to fish, and it’s sometimes used as a salad garnish or even to wrap sushi in.
Other types of seaweed that contain omega-3 fatty acids include sea purslane (which is also low in calories), sea lettuces (varieties such as mustard greens), kelp (such as Irish moss), and nori sheets made from laver.
Omega-3 fatty acids are an integral component of the diet and are vital to your wellbeing.
Since a vegan diet does not include fish as an option, you can still enjoy the advantages of Omega-3 fatty acids in your diet.
By either adding a few Omega-3-rich ingredients into your diet or going for a plant-based alternative, it’s possible to still meet your daily requirement without consuming any seafood.
How are you getting your Omega-3 met? Leave a comment below.