5 Best Plant Sources for Vegans to Get Omega-3
Omega-3 fatty acids are known to have many health benefits. They are most commonly associated with being helpful in reducing inflammation-related problems in the body and may also help reduce the symptoms of depression and dementia.
Fish like salmon and tuna are considered the best sources of omega-3 because of their high content of these fatty acids. But that does mean that us, as a vegan, cannot get enough omega-3 fatty acids from our regular, plant-based foods.
Before we start discussing the best plant-based sources of omega-3 fatty acids, it’s important to know the different types of these fatty acids and which ones are healthy (or unhealthy) for you.
So, omega-3 fatty acids have 3 common types - alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
Most of the plant foods that we are going to discuss today will only give you alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is not usable by the body in its actual form and must be turned into the other two omega-3 types - EPA and DHA - to give any health benefits. Now, the problem is that only about 5% of all ALA you consume is converted to EPA, while only about 0.5% of it is converted to DHA.
To sum up, you need to consume a significant amount of plant foods that are rich in ALA to meet your omega-3 requirement.
Here are 5 plant-based foods with a high content of omega-3 fatty acids.
1. Brussels Sprouts
Also sometimes known as baby cabbage, these small leafy vegetables are a very good source of nutrients like vitamin K, fiber, vitamin C and omega-3 fatty acids.
In fact, because of the high nutrient content, these sprouts are also known to be beneficial in reducing the risk of heart disease. (1)
Every 100 grams of raw Brussels sprouts contain about 100 mg of ALA, while cooked Brussels sprouts contain an even higher amount.
2. Hemp Seed
Besides being a natural source of iron, zinc and protein, hemp seeds also have good content of omega-3 acids. (2)
It’s an even better plant-based source of omega-3 fatty acids than Brussels sprouts, as every 28 grams of hemp seeds contain about 6,000 mg of ALA.
Studies show that omega-3 received from hemp seeds may help improve heart health by stopping the development of blood clots. (3)
Hemp seeds can be consumed in raw form or with meals such as smoothies, granola bars, hemp seed burgers, etc.
3. Flax Seeds
Flaxseeds are rich in a number of nutrients, including protein, fiber, magnesium and omega-3s.
Every 28 grams of these oilseeds contain over 6,000 mg of ALA, which is even more than what you need on a daily basis.
Thanks to the high amount of omega-3 fatty acids in flaxseeds, they are beneficial for heart health and may also help reduce cholesterol levels in the body.
A common ingredient in many popular recipes, flaxseeds are also an integral part of many popular protein supplements, including Vegan Pro - a plant-based complete organic protein.
4. Chia Seeds
Being rich in fiber, protein and omega-3s, chia seeds are very healthy for you. These are known to be able to mitigate the risk of chronic disease as well as help in reducing inflammatory markers in the body.
Every 28 grams of chia seeds contain about 4,900 mg of omega-3 fatty acids.
Who would have thought that these brain superfoods can also be a very good source of omega-3s? But, they are.
Every 28 grams of walnuts contain about 2,542 mg of omega-3s, which is in line with our daily needs.
So, the next time you are out shopping for nutrient-rich, plant foods, do not forget to add these omega-3-rich food items to your bucket. (4)
(1) PMC (e.d.). The effect of green leafy and cruciferous vegetable intake on the incidence of cardiovascular disease: A meta-analysis From https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4973479/
(2) Nutrition Data (e.d.) Hemp seed (shelled) Nutrition Facts & Calories From https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/custom/629104/2
(3) PubMed (e.d.). Effect of dietary hempseed intake on cardiac ischemia-reperfusion injury. From https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17122327
(4) Self Nutrition Data (e.d.). Nut,walnuts, english [includes USDA commodity food A259, A257] Nutrition Facts & Calories From https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/nut-and-seed-products/3138/2
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