Omega-3 fatty acids are important fats that provide so many health benefits.
Studies have found that they can reduce inflammation, lower triglycerides in the blood and even reduce the risk of dementia.
The best-known sources of omega-3 fatty acids include fish oil and fatty fish such as salmon, trout and tuna.
This can make it a challenge for vegans, vegetarians or even those who simply do not like fish to meet their omega-3 fatty acid needs.
Of the three main types of omega-3 fatty acids, plant foods generally only contain Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA).
ALA is not as active in the body and must be converted to two other forms of omega-3 fatty acids, Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA), to provide the same health benefits.
Unfortunately, your body’s ability to convert ALA is limited. Only about 5% of ALA becomes EPA, while less than 0.5% becomes DHA.
Therefore, if you do not supplement with fish oil or get EPA or DHA from your diet, it is important to eat a good amount of foods rich in ALA to meet your omega-3 needs.
Also, consider your ratio of omega-6 to omega-3, as a diet low in omega-3 but high in omega-6 can increase inflammation and your risk of disease.
Here are 11 of the best vegetable sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
1. FLAX SEEDS
Flax seeds have a high content of alpha-linolenic acid, as well as vitamins, minerals, fiber and phytosterols, which may have additional health benefits.
You will find whole flax seeds, ground flax seeds and flaxseed oil. In addition, many ‘natural’ sandwiches include flax.
Sprinkle flax seeds on cereals, soup and salads.
2. CHIA SEEDS
Chia seeds are known for their many health benefits, as they provide a good dose of fiber and protein with each serving.
They are also a great vegetable source of omega-3 ALA.
Thanks to its omega-3, fiber, and protein, studies have found that chia seeds could decrease the risk of chronic diseases when consumed as part of a healthy diet.
One study found that consuming a diet of chia seeds, soy protein, nopal, and oats decreased blood triglycerides, glucose intolerance and inflammatory markers.
An animal study in 2007 also found that eating chia seeds decreased triglycerides in the blood and increased both “good” HDL cholesterol and blood omega-3 levels.
Only one ounce (28 grams) of chia seeds can meet and exceed the recommended daily intake of omega-3 fatty acids, which provides a whopping 4,915 mg.
The current recommended daily intake of ALA for adults over 19 is 1,100 mg for women and 1,600 mg for men.
Increase your consumption of chia seeds by churning a nutritious chia pudding or sprinkle chia seeds on salads, yogurts or smoothies.
Ground chia seeds can also be used as a vegan substitute for eggs. Combine one tablespoon (7 grams) with 3 tablespoons of water to replace an egg in the recipes.
Edamame is a young soy that is boiled and allowed to cool before serving, usually still in the shell.
They are high in alpha-linolenic acid and a number of vitamins, minerals, and fiber, as well as being high in protein.
Edamame is often served in Japanese restaurants and is available in the freezer section of most grocery stores.
4. BRUSSELS SPROUTS
In addition to its high content of vitamin K, vitamin C and fiber, Brussels sprouts are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids.
Because cruciferous vegetables such as Brussels sprouts are very rich in nutrients and omega-3 fatty acids, they have been linked to many health benefits.
In fact, a study found that a higher intake of cruciferous vegetables is associated with a 16% lower risk of heart disease.
One-half cup (44 grams) of raw Brussels sprouts contains approximately 44 mg of ALA.
Meanwhile, cooked Brussels sprouts contain three times more, providing 135 mg of omega-3 fatty acids in each half-cup serving (78 grams).
Whether they are roasted, steamed, or scalded, Brussels sprouts are a healthy and delicious accompaniment to any meal.
5. ALGAL OIL
Algal oil, a type of oil derived from algae, stands out as one of the few vegan sources of EPA and DHA.
Some studies have even found that it is comparable with seafood in regards to its nutritional availability of EPA and DHA.
One study compared algae oil capsules with cooked salmon and found that both were well tolerated and equivalent in terms of absorption.
Although research is limited, animal studies show that DHA from algae oil is especially beneficial to health.
A recent study in animals found that supplementation of mice with a compound of DHA algae oil led to an improvement in memory.
However, more studies are needed to determine the extent of your health benefits.
Algal oil supplements, generally available in the form of soft gelatin, generally provide 400-500 mg of DHA and EPA combined. In general, it is recommended to obtain 300-900 mg of DHA and EPA combined per day.
Algal oil supplements are easy to find in most pharmacies. Liquid forms can also be added to beverages or shakes for a dose of healthy fats.
The nuts are loaded with healthy fats and omega-3 ALA. In fact, nuts are composed of 65% fat by weight.
Several studies in animals have found that nuts could help improve brain health due to their omega-3 content.
A 2011 animal study found that eating nuts was associated with improvements in learning and memory.
Another study in animals showed that walnuts caused significant improvements in memory, learning, motor development and anxiety in mice with Alzheimer’s disease.
Only one serving of walnuts can meet the requirements of a whole day of omega-3 fatty acids, with a single ounce (28 grams) that provides 2,542 mg.
7. HEMP SEED
In addition to proteins, magnesium, iron, and zinc, hemp seeds contain approximately 30% oil and contain a good amount of omega-3 fatty acids.
Studies in animals have found that the omega-3 fatty acids found in hemp seeds could benefit heart health.
They can do this by preventing the formation of blood clots and helping the heart to recover after a heart attack.
Each ounce (28 grams) of hemp seeds contains approximately 6,000 mg of ALA.
Sprinkle hemp seeds over the yogurt or mix them in a shake to add some crunch and increase the omega-3 content of your sandwich.
In addition, homemade granola bars with hemp seeds can be a simple way to combine hemp seeds with other healthy ingredients such as flax seeds and pack them in additional omega-3s.
Hemp seed oil, which is produced by pressing hemp seeds, can also be consumed to provide a concentrated dose of omega-3 fatty acids.
8. PUMPKIN SEEDS
Pumpkin seeds are an excellent snack option to increase your ALA intake.
They also have calcium, magnesium, and proteins. They are also high in fiber.
You can find pumpkin seeds at your local supermarket, or you can make your own pumpkin seeds toasted at home.
9. PERILLA OIL
This oil, derived from the knob seeds, is often used in Korean cuisine as a condiment and cooking oil.
In addition to being a versatile and tasty ingredient, it is also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids.
A study in 20 elderly participants replaced soybean oil with perilla oil and found that it caused ALA levels in the blood to double. In the long term, it also led to an increase in blood levels of EPA and DHA.
Perilla oil is very rich in omega-3 fatty acids, and ALA represents approximately 64% of this seed oil
Each tablespoon (14 grams) contains almost 9,000 mg of omega-3 ALA.
To maximize its health benefits, the perilla oil should be used as a flavor enhancer or dressing, rather than a cooking oil.
This is because oils rich in polyunsaturated fats can be oxidized by heat, forming harmful free radicals that contribute to the disease.
Knob oil is also available in a capsule form for an easy and convenient way to increase your omega-3 intake.
10. PINE NUTS
Pine nuts are another good source of ALA, plus they are rich in protein, monounsaturated fats, manganese, and some B vitamins.
You can find pine nuts in your local supermarket. Usually, they are already husked.
11. NAVY BEANS
Navy beans are a good source of plant-based omega-3 fatty acids. In addition, they are an excellent source of non-dairy calcium.
Navy beans contain 0.32g representing 13% Omega-3 Fatty Acids.
They are also high in fiber and manganese. Blue beans can be used in most recipes that require dry white beans.
Omega-3 fatty acids are a vital part of the diet and are essential for your health.
If you do not eat fish due to dietary reasons or personal preferences, you can still get the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids in your diet.
Whether incorporating some omega-3-rich foods into your diet or opting for a herbal supplement, it is possible to meet your needs, without seafood.
I recommend Zinzino BalanceOil for those who hate Fish. Everything you need in a fish is INSIDE.