Omega-3 fatty acids are very important to ensure the health of the heart and brain. As our body cannot synthesize them, the foods we eat or the supplements we take are the only sources of these fatty acids. Fishes like tuna, salmon, and trout are the richest sources of omega 3s. However, these foods are not for vegans and vegetarians and there are many plant-based sources of omega 3s that vegan and vegetarians can depend on for omega 3 fatty acids. Plant foods mostly contain alpha-linolenic acid, which is one of the three types of omega 3 fatty acids.
Brussels sprouts are rich in vitamin C, fiber, and Vitamin K. They are a rich source of omega 3s as well. Because Brussels sprouts have an excellent nutrient profile, they offer various health benefits. They can be roasted, stir-fried, or steamed to incorporate into healthy meals. About 44 mg of ALA is contained in 44 grams of Brussels sprouts.
Hemp seeds are highly nutritious. These seeds are good sources of iron, zinc, magnesium, and omega-3 fatty acids.
Omega 3s present in hemp seeds check the formation of blood clots and are capable of promoting recovery after a heart attack. This way, omega 3s sourced from hemp seeds support heart health.
You can add hemp seeds to soups and smoothies. 30% of hemp seeds is oil and the hemp seed oil obtained by cold pressing the seeds is best for people looking for a concentrated dose of omega 3s.
Rich in protein, magnesium, fiber, and manganese, flaxseeds have an impressive nutrient profile. They are also rich in omega 3s. Flaxseeds are quite effective in reducing cholesterol levels.
A study conducted on flaxseeds suggests that they could help people with hypertension by lowering blood pressure. 28 grams of flaxseeds contain about 6388 mg of ALA. You can use flaxseeds as an egg substitute in vegan diets by mixing them with water.
There are very few vegan sources of EPA and DHA, two among the three forms of omega 3 fatty acids and algal oil happens to be one. It is derived from algae and has its EPA and DHA contents are comparable to seafood.
One study found that algal oil and cooked salmon were equivalent in terms of the quantity of EPA and DHA. A recent animal study with algal oil supplements has found that it can help improve memory.
Mostly available in the form of softgels, algal oil supplements contain about 400-500 mg of combined EPA and DHA.
Chia seeds are a great source of ALA, fiber, and proteins. When added as a part of a healthy diet, chia seeds can reduce the risk of chronic diseases.
A study conducted in 2007 found that chia seeds increased the levels of omega 3s and good HDL cholesterol in the blood. Moreover, these seeds also decreased the levels of triglycerides in the blood.
Eating 28 grams of chia seeds is enough to meet your daily omega 3s requirement. You get 4,915 mg of omega 3s from 28 grams of chia seeds.
Chia seeds can be added to puddings, salads, yogurts, and smoothies. They can also be used as an egg substitute and for that, they are ground and the powder is mixed with water.
Having 65% fat by weight, walnuts are an excellent source of ALA and healthy fats. Its high omega-3 content suggests that it could promote brain health. A study found that walnuts can help improve memory and learning. 28 grams of walnuts contain 2,542mg of omega 3s, which means a single serving of walnuts is enough to meet your daily omega-3 requirement. You can add walnuts to granola or cereal or sprinkle them on top of yogurt.
Derived from perilla seeds, perilla oil is common in Korean cuisine where it is used as cooking oil and condiment.
In addition to its versatility and rich flavor, its rich omega-3 content is also an impressive feature. In a study conducted to determine the effectiveness of perilla oil, 20 elderly participants took perilla oil in replacement for soybean oil. It was then found that the swap caused their blood ALA levels to double and in the long term, the DHA and EPA levels also improved.
For optimizing its health benefits, use it as a dressing or a flavor enhancer rather than using it as cooking oil. It is also available in capsule form that is far more convenient than its liquid form.
Plant-based omega-3 sources are a blessing to people who are following an entirely plant-based diet and would otherwise have a hard time sticking to their diet and meeting their dietary needs.