Are you a vegetarian or someone who follows a vegan diet?
If yes, then this one’s for you!
Omega-3 fatty acids, also known as Omega-3 oils, are the building blocks of fat in our bodies. As a result, they play a significant role in human nutrition and human physiology. Mainly found in fish, but if you don’t consume fish, there are great sources of vegan omega-3 as well.
Omega-3 fatty acids are, without doubt, a very crucial component of our diet and beneficial to our health. A healthy body needs the right amount of Omega 3+6+9 to function efficiently.
The Importance of Omega 3 Fatty Acids
There are three types of Omega-3 fatty acids.
- EPA, which is eicosapentaenoic acid and
- DHA is docosahexaenoic acid, which is abundant in fish and marine algae.
- The third one is ALA, alpha-linolenic acid, which is widely obtainable from various plant sources.
Not only does your body need these fatty acids to perform various functions, but they have a ton of fitness perks too.
Some of the widely acknowledged health benefits of adding Omega -3 fatty acids to the diet include lowering the risk of cardiovascular diseases, combating depression and anxiety, improving vision and eye health. In addition, in infants, the fatty acids promote brain growth and development. It also reduces the risk of metabolic syndromes and helps fight inflammation.
Your Vegetarian / Vegan Omega-3 Fatty acids
Marine food or supplements are the popularly known sources of fulfilling one’s daily requirement of omega fatty acids. However, the most easily obtained sources of Omega-3 fatty acids comprise fish oil and fatty fishes like salmons, trouts, and tunas.
But did you know there are a ton of vegetarian foods that contain these beneficial fats? One does not need to turn to fish—or fish oil supplements—to get your daily dose of Omega-3s. Omega-3 fatty acids are easily obtainable in a wide variety of plant-based foods as well.
The Nation Institute of Health recommends a daily intake of 1,100 milligrams of Omega-3 for women and 1,600 milligrams for men.
If you are a vegetarian, vegan, hate the aftertaste of fish oil supplements or simply someone looking for environmentally friendly or vegan alternatives about your Omega-3 intake, here are some foods that you can start incorporating into your diet right away.
Here are the 7 Best Sources Vegan Omega-3 Fatty Acids
1. Flax Seeds
This emerging “superfood” loaded with Omega-3 fatty acids and dietary fibre is a nutritional powerhouse. Each serving adds fibre, protein, magnesium, manganese, and of course, vegan Omega-3.
Studies show that flax seeds or the oil extracted from them both have the power to reduce cholesterol. They can also help significantly lower blood pressure levels, particularly in those with high blood pressure problems.
Foresta Organics Omega 3+6+9 extracted from Flax Seeds has a balanced ratio of 1:1 to help your heart and brain stay healthy. Yay to vegans and vegetarians; this is the supplement we all were waiting to see the clouds parting and feel the sunshine coming.
2. Algal Oil (Seaweed Oil)
Algal oil is derived from algae or marine plant organisms, also known to some as seaweed. It stands out as one of the few vegan and vegetarian sources of DHA.
Though research is limited, studies prove that the DHA from algal oil is particularly advantageous as it may also contain crucial minerals like iodine. Furthermore, algal oil is also environmentally friendly. The best way to consume Algal Omega-3s is through plant-based vitamins and supplements.
3. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are among the healthiest foods on the planet. They come loaded with nutrients that can have manifold benefits for your body and especially the brain. Those turning towards vegan omega-3 plant-based food or even vegetarian Omega-3 sources should dive into the many health benefits of chia seeds.
Chia seeds are a great vegan source of ALA omega-3 fatty acids, bringing a substantial measure of fibre and protein with each meal. In addition, studies have observed that chia seeds could reduce the risk of chronic disease when devoured as part of a healthy balanced diet.
Loaded with almost 65% of healthy fats and essential vegan omega-3 (ALA), they work on maintaining your brain health and help enhance memory.
According to recent studies, just one serving of walnuts can fulfil an entire day’s demands of Omega-3 fatty acids. So adding some walnuts to your cereals, also as a garnish over your delicious yoghurt, or just a handful of nuts as a simple snack will do wonders to your vegan Omega-3 requirements.
5. Hemp Seeds
Hemp seeds have a strong nutrition outline for vegan Omega 3. They are said to contain high levels of antioxidants, fatty acids, minerals, and vitamins.
Think of vegetarian Omega-3 sources; hemp seeds are one of the best for the job. These seeds are technically nuts used as eatables. The shells of these seeds add fibre to the diet. Grind the seeds to help the body absorb more of the other nutrients.
So, all this while when Popeye sang-
“I’m Popeye the Sailor Man
I’m Popeye the Sailor Man
I’m strong to the finish
Cause I eats me spinach”
What he wanted to say was get your Omega-3!
Not only is Spinach rich in Omega-3 but it is also a great source of Vitamin E. Plus, it is low in calories- 40 calories per cup of cooked Spinach. Spinach is also known to be an appetite suppressor, which can aid in weight loss.
7. Mustard Seeds
Mustard seeds are effective metabolism boosters with a rich reserve of Omega 3 fatty acids and antioxidants. A single spoon of mustard is said to have around 100mg of Omega 3. In addition, the high amount of ALA makes it an effective anti-inflammatory remedy.
They are often consumed in the form of sprinklers like pepper or even widely in oil. The other notable boon is the balanced ratio of Omega 3 and Omega 6, making it a better choice than even olive oil.
The Bottom Line
Omega-3 fatty acids are a requisite component of the diet as they can cut down the rate of inflammation and keep the body healthy. You don’t have to change your eating habits or eat fish unwillingly to have these essential fatty acids. There are many plant-based vegetarian and vegan omega-3 foods and supplements.
It is essential to include all the three main types of omega-3 in the diet. In addition, one should bear in mind that the balance of these omega fatty acids, namely, omega-3 and omega-6, in the body plays a crucial role in countering inflammation.