8 Vegan Sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
What are Omega-3 Fatty Acids?
Omega 3's are an essential part of your diet and they play an important role when it comes to the functioning of cell membranes in your body. Going deficient can lead to some very serious health concerns both in the immediate future and later in life.
For this reason, we want to share with you some information about Omega 3s in your diet and list 8 plant-based sources you can get omega-3's from as a Vegan.
Of the 11 types of Omega-3's, you're probably most familiar with people talking about the following 3:
- Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) - This acid comes primarily from plant oils and our bodies cannot manufacture it. We must get enough ALA through the foods we eat and/or the supplements we take in order to get adequate amounts.
- Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) - Mostly found in animal products.
- Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) - Mostly found in animal products.
As a Vegan, Vegetarian, or on a Plant-Based Diet, you may be concerned that giving up fish will put you at a risk of deficiency in this nutrient. But did you know that the Omega-3s found in fish were originally consumed when the fish ate Algae, Seaweed, and other plant life?
So what if we take the middleman out of the equation and got it directly from the source?
Can we get enough Omega 3 Fatty acids in order to maintain a proper diet?
- Watch the video below to listen to Dr. Greger talk the science behind it.
- Speak with your doctor to see if diet changes, supplementation, or something else is right for you. This article is not intended to be medical advice: We are simply pointing out Vegan sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids and introducing you to this very important topic :)
Signs and Symptoms of Omega 3 Deficiency
- Dry Skin
- Poor Concentration
- Joint Pain/Arthritis
- Brain Functioning Problems
- Weight Gain/Obesity
- Eyesight Problems
The only true way to know your levels are getting blood tests done, so we always suggest that before making any significant changes for your health.
How Much Omega 3 Do I Need in My Diet?
The amount of Omega 3 you need depends on your age, gender, and other factors such as if you're pregnant.
According to the National Insitutes of Health website, the Adequate Intake levels for Omega-3 is as follows:
Source of Information: https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Omega3FattyAcids-Consumer/
Studies have shown that getting Omega-3 from Plant-Based Sources of (ALA) alone have had a decreased efficiency in converting to EPA and DHA. So be sure to talk with your doctor and see if your levels require any form of supplementation outside of food alone.
Vegan Omega 3 Sources
1. Chia Seeds
USDA Reported Levels: 5.06 Grams per Ounce
Chia Seeds are a great source of Omega-3s for plant-based and Vegan diets. In addition to their Omega 3 content, Chia Seeds are a great source of Protein, Iron, Calcium, and Magnesium.
Each morning, I wake up and soak one tablespoon of Chia seeds with Water for 15 minutes and then add a splash of lemon to make a great morning ritual drink.
They're also great in plant-based yogurts with fruit and nuts as a breakfast or snack.
USDA Reported Levels: 2.57 Grams per Ounce (English Walnuts)
Yet another Vegan source of Omega-3 Fatty Acids that you could easily add to any meal, especially breakfast. I keep a handful of them around as an afternoon snack.
What if you take a bowl of organic oatmeal (which is great for lowering cholesterol on a plant-based diet), fill it up with Bananas, Raspberries, Ground Flax, and Sprinkle some Chia Seeds and Walnuts on top of it to get some extra Omega-3s and Crunch?
3. Ground Flax Seeds
USDA Reported Levels:
- Flaxseed (Whole): 2.35 Grams per Tablespoon
- Flaxseed (Oil): 7.26 Grams per Tablespoon
As mentioned in the previous post, ground Flax Seeds are a great addition to your oatmeal in the morning to add omega-3s and fiber to your diet at the very start of your day.
You can use them for baking, smoothies, in homemade granola, and as a vegan replacement for eggs. Mix 1 tablespoon of ground flax seed with 3 tablespoons of water until it becomes gelatinous.
You can turn them into bread crumbs, sprinkle them on salads, or even eat them on toast!
4. Hemp Seed
Best advertised as hemp seed oil, this product can also be used similar to flax seeds.
5. Algae and Seaweed
As mentioned before, the fish that non-vegans consume (primary source of Omega-3s) eat their Omega 3s from algae.
Containing both EPA and DHA, oils extracted from algae is rich in these forms of omega-3. Make sure to know the difference between the brands as any cooking oil may not be effective due to the fats not being heat-stable.
Do a search for Algal Oil if you're interested in learning more about the uses of this.
6. Brussels Sprouts
According to healthline, you'll get 125 mg of ALA in each half cup of cooked brussels sprouts (78 grams). From a taste standpoint, we prefer baking our sprouts with a little olive oil, chopped garlic, salt, and pepper for seasoning. For those of you on Whole Food Plant Base diets, you may want to eliminate or reduce your oil intake.
7. Perilla as a Vegan Omega 3 Source
Commonly used in oil as cooking, Perilla frutescen seeds are a great source of polyunsaturated fatty acids. Only the seed oil contains Omega 3, not the leaves.
This plant is a natural source of Omega 3s that's suitable for vegans, vegetarians, and those on plant-based diets and is most commonly consumed as an oil.
8. Edamame, Kidney Beans, Soybean Oil
USDA Reported Levels:
- Edamame, frozen, prepared: 0.28 Grams per 1/2 Cup
- Kidney Beans: 0.10 Grams per 1/2 cup
These three sources are lower in Omega 3s for plant-based eaters than many of the plants suggested above, but we wanted to add them to the list because they may have other health benefits too!
Omega 3 Food Chart (Vegan and Non-Vegan Sources)
While the chart below shows both Vegan and Animal sources sources of Omega 3, if you can get adequate nutrition from plants alone, consider the animal welfare and environmental impact of your food choices as well.
Scientists and policymakers around the world are attributing plant-based diets as the number one way to fight carbon emissions that cause global warming.
Is it Best to Take a Vegan Omega 3 Supplement?
That's an answer only your doctor can decide.
We suggest getting your bloodwork done and listen to the advice of your doctor whether supplementation or dietary changes are right for you.
For otherwise healthy individuals, wouldn't it be nice to add some more flax seeds, chias, walnuts, and other great tasting vegan sources of omega-3s into your diet?
Our Essentials Nutrition pack here at Vegan Health Pack contains Chia Seeds as an all-natural source of Omega 3 (Link Below).
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7+ Essential Nutrients Loaded into Plant-Based Foods
1. Vitamin D - Mushroom or kelp Jerky
2. B12 & Calcium - Water Lentils
3. Iron - Edamame or Black Bean Pasta
4. Omega-3 Fatty...