Omega-3 fatty acids play a vital role in maintaining a healthy body and mind. Besides reducing inflammation, reducing our risk of dementia and decreasing blood triglycerides, omega-3 fatty acids keep our skin and hair looking great.
Some of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids are oily fish like sardines, tuna, salmon and trout. But what if you are a vegetarian, a vegan or just don’t like fish, how do you make sure that you too can benefit from this good compound? Well, it is not that easy. You see, plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids contain only one of the three types of omega-3 fatty acids namely alpha-linolenic acid. Alpha-linolenic acid needs to transform to eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid in our bodies before you can get the benefit. Another problem is that our bodies struggle at best to do this conversion, in fact the success rate of conversion ranges from 5 – 0.5 %. Therefore, vegan and vegetarians need to make sure that they get enough alpha-linolenic acid rich foods in to increase those conversion numbers.
To help you find the best sources of plant-based omega-3 fatty acids foods, they are listed below.
1 Chia seeds
Chia seeds are little black seeds packed with goodness. By eating 28 grams of chai seeds, you will get around 307% of your recommended daily intake alpha-linolenic acid omega-3 fatty acids. They are a great source of fiber and protein, but also rich in alpha-linolenic acid omega-3 fatty acids. These little seeds can help lessen blood triglycerides, inflammation, increase your good cholesterol, and glucose intolerance, but also help with weight management as they made you feel full.
These seeds are easy to incorporate into your diet. You can add them to your smoothies, in salads, in your cereal or you can use them as an egg substitute by using one tablespoon of chai seeds with three tablespoons of water in recipes that need eggs.
2 Brussels sprouts
Not everyone’s favorite vegetable, but Brussels sprouts are good sources of vitamin C, vitamin K, fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. In fact, half a cup of these calciferous vegetable cooked will give you around 12% of your daily needed alpha-linolenic acid omega-3 fatty acids. By doing that you can lower your risk of heart disease by 16%.
Walnuts are a great healthy snack, but these nuts that contain 65% of fat are also a good source of alpha-linolenic acid omega-3 fatty acids. And you can get your complete daily requirements by just eating 28 grams of these delicious nuts.
Not only are walnuts tasty, research has linked them to improved memory and learning, improved brain health, improvements in motor development and anxiety as well as Alzheimer’s disease.
If the health benefits is not enough, then do it for their taste, by adding walnuts to your cereal, use them in your salads or when you make your homemade granola bars.
The slightly nutty floured flaxseeds are packed with fiber, protein, magnesium and manganese, but also a good source of omega-3. In fact, you only need 28 grams of flaxseed to meet your daily requirements. The benefits research has shown by taking flaxseed; include a healthy heart, reducing cholesterol, and lowering blood pressure.
Add them to your oats, cereal, salads, soups, or even use them as an egg substitute by taking one tablespoon of flaxseed with two and a half tablespoons of water to replace eggs in a recipe.
5 Algal oil
Algal oil is a sort of oil that is derived from algae, but what makes algal oil special is that it contains both eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid. In fact, algal oil will provide 400–500 mg of eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid, achieving 44–167% of the daily-recommended intake.
This oil is available in a soft gel form, and has been found to improve memory.
You can take algal oil as a supplement, or use the oil to cook salmon, or stir-fry vegetables. Alternatively, you can add the liquid to your smoothies to get the benefits of this healthy fat.
5 Hemp seed
Hemp seeds are stellar if you are looking for a source of protein, magnesium, iron and zinc, but also omega-3. Just 28 gram of hemp seeds 375–545% of the daily-recommended intake of alpha-linolenic acid omega-3 fatty acids.
The health benefits of hemp seeds include heart health, by preventing formation of blood clots, and to assist the heart to recover after a heart attack. In addition, hemp seeds can also help you to lose those extra kilos.
To benefit from this healthy seed, add them to your smoothies, in your granola bars, or crush them fine and add them to your cereal.
6 Perilla oil
A staple in Korea, the perilla seeds are used to make an oil that is used in cooking. Not only this this oil flavorful, it is also a great omega-3 source. So great that one tablespoon of perilla oil will provide you with 563–818% of your daily-recommended omega-3 intake.
Although this oil is available in a capsule form, the best way to enjoy it is as a dressing or flavor enhancer instead of normal cooking oil.
The benefits of omega-3 is known, but the best sources of these are within fish. If you do not eat fish, or dislike it, then your access to the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids are limited. Luckily, a few plant-based foods are rich in omega-3 that you can add to your diet, so you too can have the health benefits omega-3 can offer.