Omega-3 fatty acids are important fats that provide many health benefits. Studies have found that they can reduce inflammation, lower blood triglyceride levels 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 may be a challenge for vegans, vegetarians or even those who simply do not like fish in terms of meeting the needs of omega-3 fatty acids. Of the three main types of omega-3 fatty acids, plant foods usually only contain alpha-linolenic acid (AAL). AAL is not as active in the body and must become two other forms of omega-3 fatty acids – eicosapentaenoic acid (AEP) and docosahexaenoic acid (ADH) – to grant the same health benefits compared to the other acids Omega-3 that is obtained from fish.
Unfortunately, the body’s ability to synthesize AAL is limited. Only about 5% of AAL becomes AEP, while less than 0.5% becomes ADH. Therefore, if it is not supplemented with fish oil or AEP or ADH is obtained from the diet, it is important to eat a good amount of AAL-rich foods to meet the needs of omega-3. In addition, the balance between omega-6 and omega-3 must be taken into account, since a diet low in omega-3 but high in omega-6 can increase inflammation and the risk of disease. Listed below are 7 of the best vegetable sources in omega-3 fatty acids.
1. Chia Seeds:
Chia seeds are known for their many health benefits, incorporating a strong dose of fiber and protein with each serving. They are also a great vegetable source of AAL omega-3 fatty acids. Thanks to the contents of omega-3, fiber and protein, studies have found that chia seeds could reduce the risk of chronic diseases when consumed as part of a healthy diet. One study found that eating a diet with chia seeds, prickly pear, soy protein and oatmeal decreased blood triglyceride levels, glucose intolerance and inflammatory markers. An animal study in 2007 also found that eating chia seeds lowered triglycerides in the blood and increased both LAD (high density lipoprotein) or “good” cholesterol and omega-3 levels in the blood. Only one ounce (28 grams) of chia seeds can meet and exceed the recommended daily intake of omega-3 fatty acids, providing a vast amount of 4,915 mg. The recommended daily intake of ALA for people over 19 is 1,100 mg for women and 1,600 mg for men. You can increase the intake of Chia seeds by mixing them in a nutritious Chia pudding or sprinkling Chia seeds on top of salads, yogurts or smoothies. Ground chia seeds can also be used as a vegan substitute for eggs. Combine a tablespoon (7 grams) of ground chias seeds with 3 tablespoons of water to replace the egg in the recipes.
Summary: One ounce (28 grams) of chia seeds provides 4,915 mg of AAL omega-3 fatty acids, satisfying 307-447% of the recommended daily intake.
2. Brussels Sprouts:
Apart from the 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 so rich in nutrients and omega-3 fatty acids, they have been linked to many health benefits”.
In fact, one study found that a higher intake of cruciferous vegetables is associated with a 16% lower risk of heart disease. A half cup (44 grams) of raw Brussels sprouts contains approximately 44 mg of ALA. Meanwhile, cooked Brussels sprouts contain three times more ALA, providing 135 mg of omega-3 fatty acids in each half-cup serving (78 grams). Whether they are toasted, steamed, bleached or scrambled, Brussels sprouts make a healthy and delicious accompaniment to any meal .
Summary: Each serving of half a cup (78 grams) of cooked Brussels sprouts contains 135 mg of ALA, or up to 12% of the recommended daily intake.
3. Seaweed Oil:
Algae oil, as the name implies, is a type of seaweed-derived oil, it stands out as one of the few vegan sources of AEP and ADH. Some studies have even found that it is comparable to shellfish in terms of the nutritional availability of AEP and ADH. One study compared seaweed 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 ADH in algae oil is especially beneficial for health. In fact, a recent study in animals found that the supplement in mice with an ADH algae oil compound led to an improvement in memory. However, more studies are needed to determine the extent of health benefits. Algae oil supplements are most commonly available in the form of soft capsules, typically providing between 400-500 mg of ADH and AEP of both compounds. In general, it is recommended to obtain between 300-900 mg of ADH and AEP of both compounds per day. Algae oil supplements are easy to find in most pharmacies. There is also availability in liquid form that can be added to drinks or shakes to integrate a dose of healthy fats into the diet.
Summary: Depending on the supplement, seaweed oil provides between 400-500 mg of ADH and AEP, complying with 44-167% of the recommended daily intake.
4. Hemp Seeds:
In addition to proteins, magnesium, iron and zinc, hemp seeds are composed of approximately 30% oil and contain a good amount of omega-3. Animal studies have found that the omega-3 found in hemp seeds could benefit heart health. This occurs, because they can prevent the formation of blood clots and help the heart recover after a heart attack. Each ounce (28 grams) of hemp seeds contains approximately 6,000 mg of AAL. You can sprinkle hemp seeds on top of yogurt, or you can also mix it with a smoothie to add a touch of crunch and thereby increase the omega-3 content of the drink. In addition, homemade hemp seed granola bars can be a simple way to combine hemp seeds with other healthy ingredients such as flax seeds and thus concentrate extra omega-3. Hemp seed oil, which is made by crushing the seeds, can also be consumed to provide a concentrated dose of omega-3 fatty acids.
Summary: One ounce (28 grams) of hemp seeds contains 6,000 mg of AAL omega-3 fatty acids or 375-545% of the recommended daily intake.
Walnuts are loaded with healthy fats and omega-3 fatty acids from AAL. In fact, nuts comprise approximately 65% fat of their weight. Several animal studies have found that nuts could help improve brain health due to their omega-3 content. An animal study in 2011 found that eating nuts was associated with improvements in learning and memory. Another study in animals showed that nuts caused significant improvements in memory, learning, motor development and anxiety in mice with Alzheimer’s disease. Only one ounce (28 grams) of walnuts provides 2,542 mg of ALA, this can meet the needs of an entire day of omega-3 fatty acids. Adding a handful of nuts to homemade granola, cereal, yogurt or just snack can increase your ALA intake.
Summary: One ounce (28 grams) of walnuts contains 2,542 mg of AAL omega-3 fatty acids, which is 159-231% of the recommended daily intake.
6. Flaxseed Seeds:
Flaxseed seeds are nutritional potencies, which provides a good amount of fiber, protein, magnesium and manganese in each serving. They are also an excellent source of omega-3. Several studies have shown the healthy benefits of flaxseeds for the heart, largely due to its omega-3 fatty acid content. Both flaxseed and flaxseed oil have been shown to reduce cholesterol in multiple studies. Another study found that flaxseeds could help significantly reduce blood pressure, particularly in those with high blood pressure. An ounce (28 grams) of flax seeds contains 6.388 mg of AAL omega-3 fatty acids, exceeding the recommended daily amount. Flaxseeds are easy to incorporate into the diet and can be a basic ingredient in vegan cooking. Mix a tablespoon (7 grams) of flaxseed flour, with 2.5 tablespoons of water can be used as a practical substitute for an egg for baked goods. With a mild flavor but a bit like walnut, adding flaxseed to cereals, oatmeal, soups or salads also makes a perfect combination.
Summary: One ounce (28 grams) of flaxseed contains 6.388 mg of AAL omega-3 fatty acids, which translates to 400-580% of the recommended daily intake.
7. Perilla Oil:
This oil, derived from perilla seeds, is often used in Korean cooking 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 participants of age, replaced soybean oil with perilla oil, found that perilla oil doubles the levels of AAL in the blood. In addition, in the long term it leads to an increase in the levels of AEP and ADH in blood. Perilla oil is very rich in omega-3 fatty acids, where AAL accounts for approximately 64% of this seed oil. Each tablespoon (14 grams) contains almost 9,000 mg of ALA omega-3 fatty acids. To maximize health benefits, perilla oil should be used as a flavoring agent or dressing, instead as a cooking oil. This is because oils rich in polyunsaturated fats can oxidize with heat, forming harmful free radicals that contribute to various diseases. Perilla oil is also available in capsule form for an easy and convenient way to increase omega-3 intake.
Summary: Each tablespoon (14 grams) of perilla oil contains 9,000 mg of ALA omega-3 fatty acids or 563-818% of the recommended daily intake.
Omega-3 fatty acids are an important part of the diet and are essential for your health. If the person does not feed on fish due to dietary reasons or personal preference, they can still get the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids through healthy eating. Either incorporating some foods rich in omega-3 in the diet or opting for a supplement based on plants or vegetables, so it is possible to meet your needs without consuming any type of fish or related.