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 oily fish such as salmon, trout, and tuna.
This can be a challenge for vegans, vegetarians, or even those who just don’t like fish when it comes to meeting their omega-3 fatty acid needs.
Of the three main types of omega-3 fatty acids, plant foods typically only contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).
LAA is not as active in the body and must be converted to two other forms of omega-3 fatty acids — eicosapentaenoic acid (AEP) and docosahexaenoic acid (ADH) — to provide the same health benefits as the other fatty acids. omega-3 obtained from fish.
Unfortunately, the body’s ability to synthesize ALA is limited. Only about 5% of AAL is converted to AEP, while less than 0.5% is converted to ADH.
Therefore, if you are not supplementing with fish oil or getting PSA or ADH from your diet, it is important to eat a good amount of ALA-rich foods to meet your omega-3 needs.
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 diseases.
Listed below are 7 of the best plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
1. Chia seeds
Chia seeds are known for their many health benefits, packing a hefty dose of fiber and protein with every serving.
They are also a great plant source of ALA’s omega-3 fatty acids.
Thanks to the omega-3, fiber and protein contents, studies have found that chia seeds may lower the risk of chronic diseases when consumed as part of a healthy diet.
One study found that consuming a diet with chia seeds, nopal, soy protein, and oats lowered blood triglyceride levels, glucose intolerance, and inflammatory markers.
A 2007 animal study also found that eating chia seeds lowered blood triglycerides and increased both HDL (high-density lipoprotein) or “good” cholesterol and omega-3 blood levels.
Just one ounce (28 grams) of chia seeds can meet and exceed the recommended daily intake of omega-3 fatty acids, providing a whopping 4,915 mg.
The recommended daily intake of ALA for people 19 years and older is 1,100 mg for women and 1,600 mg for men.
You can increase your intake of chia seeds by mixing them into 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 egg substitute. Combine one tablespoon (7 grams) of ground chia seeds with 3 tablespoons of water to replace the egg in recipes.
Summary: One ounce (28 grams) of chia seeds provides 4,915 mg of omega-3 fatty acids from ALA, satisfying 307-447% of the recommended daily intake.
Learn more about “chia seeds” in our article: 11 unmissable properties of chia (2 is essential) .
2. Brussels sprouts
Aside from being high in vitamin K, vitamin C, and fiber, Brussels sprouts are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids.
Because cruciferous vegetables like 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 the ALA, providing 135 mg of omega-3 fatty acids in each half-cup (78-gram) serving.
Whether roasted, steamed, blanched, or scrambled, Brussels sprouts make a healthy and delicious side to any meal .
Summary: Each half-cup (78-gram) serving of cooked Brussels sprouts contains 135 mg of ALA, or up to 12% of the recommended daily intake.
3. Algae oil
Algae oil, as the name implies is a type of oil derived from algae, 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 algal 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 from algal oil is especially beneficial for health.
In fact, a recent animal study found that supplementing mice with an algal oil compound ADH led to an improvement in memory.
However, more studies are needed to determine the extent of the health benefits.
Algal oil supplements are most commonly available in softgel form, typically providing between 400-500mg of ADH and PSA of both compounds. In general, it is recommended to get between 300-900 mg of ADH and PSA of both compounds per day.
Algae oil supplements are easy to find in most drug stores. They are also available in liquid form that can be added to drinks or shakes to add a dose of healthy fats to your diet.
Summary: Depending on the supplement, algae oil provides between 400-500 mg of ADH and PSA, meeting 44-167% of the recommended daily intake.
4. Hemp seeds
In addition to protein, magnesium, iron, and zinc, hemp seeds are made up of about 30% oil and contain a good amount of omega-3s.
Animal studies have found that the omega-3 found in hemp seeds may benefit heart health.
This occurs because they can prevent blood clots from forming and help the heart recover after a heart attack.
Each ounce (28 grams) of hemp seed contains approximately 6,000 mg of ALA.
You can sprinkle hemp seeds on top of the yogurt, or you can also mix it into a smoothie to add a touch of crunch and thereby increase the omega-3 content of the drink.
Also, homemade hemp seed granola bars can be an easy way to combine hemp seeds with other healthy ingredients like flaxseeds for extra omega-3s.
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 omega-3 fatty acids from ALA or 375-545% of the recommended daily intake.
Learn more about “hemp seeds” in our article: 6 Scientifically Proven Benefits of Hemp Seeds .
Walnuts are loaded with healthy fats and ALA’s omega-3 fatty acids. In fact, nuts comprise about 65% fat by weight.
Several animal studies have found that walnuts may help improve brain health due to their omega-3 content.
A 2011 animal study found that eating nuts was associated with improvements in learning and memory.
Another animal study showed that walnuts caused significant improvements in memory, learning, motor development, and anxiety in mice with Alzheimer’s disease.
Just one ounce (28 grams) of walnuts provides 2,542 mg of ALA, which can meet an entire day’s needs for omega-3 fatty acids.
Adding a handful of nuts to homemade granola, cereal, yogurt, or just a snack can boost your ALA intake.
Summary: One ounce (28 grams) of walnuts contains 2,542 mg of omega-3 fatty acids from ALA, which is 159-231% of the recommended daily intake.
Learn more about “walnuts” in our article: 3 secret properties of walnuts (#1 is my favorite) .
Flaxseeds are nutritional powerhouses, providing a good amount of fiber, protein, magnesium, and manganese in every serving.
They are also an excellent source of omega-3s.
Several studies have shown the healthy benefits of flax seeds for the heart, in large part thanks to its omega-3 fatty acid content.
Both flaxseed and flaxseed oil have been shown to lower cholesterol in multiple studies.
Another study found that flax seeds could help significantly lower blood pressure, particularly in those with high blood pressure.
One ounce (28 grams) of flaxseed contains 6,388 mg of ALA omega-3 fatty acids, exceeding the recommended daily allowance.
Flaxseeds are easy to incorporate into the diet and can be a staple ingredient in vegan baking.
Mixing one tablespoon (7 grams) of flaxseed meal with 2.5 tablespoons of water can be used as a convenient egg substitute for baked goods.
With a mild but slightly nutty flavor, adding flaxseed to cereals, oatmeal, soups or salads also makes a perfect combination.
Summary: One ounce (28 grams) of flax seeds contains 6,388 mg of omega-3 fatty acids from ALA, which translates to 400-580% of the recommended daily intake.
Learn more about “linseeds” in our article: 7 unmissable benefits of flaxseeds or flaxseeds .
7. Perilla Oil
This oil, derived from perilla seeds, is often used in Korean cuisine as a seasoning 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 older participants, substituting soybean oil for perilla oil, found that perilla oil doubled blood ALA levels. In addition, in the long term it leads to an increase in the levels of AEP and ADH in the blood.
Perilla oil is very rich in omega-3 fatty acids, where AAL represents approximately 64% of this seed oil.
Each tablespoon (14 grams) contains almost 9,000 mg of omega-3 fatty acids from ALA.
To maximize the health benefits, perilla oil should be used as a flavoring or dressing, rather than a cooking oil. This is because oils high 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 your 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 eat fish due to dietary reasons or personal preference, they can still get the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids through a healthy diet.
Either by incorporating some omega-3-rich foods into your diet or by opting for a herbal or vegetable-based supplement, so it is possible to meet your needs without consuming any type of fish or the like.
Learn more about “the benefits of omega 3” in our article: 15 benefits of omega 3 that you cannot miss.