Adding more omega-3 fatty acids to your diet can provide numerous health benefits. Multiple studies show that omega-3s can help regulate inflammation, balance blood triglycerides, and protect your brain health as you age1.
Omega-3 fatty acids come from many sources, but the best known sources are from fatty fish, such as Alaskan Pollock. But did you know that you can get omega-3 fatty acids from plant-based foods too? Check out the top 5 plant sources for omega-3 fatty acids:
1. Chia Seeds
- Chia seeds are full of protein and fiber. They are also a great source for ALA omega-3 fatty acids.
- Thanks to the protein, fiber, and omega-3 they contain, studies have shown that they decrease the risk for chronic disease when they are part of a healthy diet.
- According to one study, Chia seeds lowered glucose intolerance, inflammatory markers, and blood triglycerides2.
- A study conducted in 2007 showed that eating Chia seeds increased the good HDL cholesterol and omega-3 blood levels while decreasing blood triglycerides3.
- You can make a Chia seed pudding or sprinkle them on anything from yogurts, salads, and smoothies.
- Vegans sometimes use ground Chia seeds as a substitute for eggs in baking. Combine 1 tablespoon with 3 tablespoons of water and it will replace one egg in your recipes.
- Brussels sprouts are cruciferous vegetables and are rich in many nutrients. They contain high levels of vitamin C, K, and fiber, as well as plenty of omega-3 fatty acids.
- One study found that increasing your intake of cruciferous vegetables can reduce your risk of heart disease by 16%4.
- When Brussels sprouts are cooked, they deliver three times as much omega-3s. In 1/2 cup of cooked Brussels sprouts, you will find 135 mg of omega-3 fatty acids.
- Brussels sprouts are can be served roasted, blanched, steamed, or stir-fried.
- Algal oil comes from algae and is a vegan source of both DHA and EPA.
- According to some studies, algal oil is similar to seafood in its availability of both DHA and EPA5.
- A recent study also showed that those who supplemented with a DHA algal oil compound showed an improvement in memory6.
- Hemp seeds provide your body with protein, iron, magnesium, zinc, and omega-3.
- A number of studies have shown that hemp seeds can help protect heart health.7
- There is approximately 6000 mg of ALA in each ounce of hemp seeds.
- You can sprinkle hemp seeds on your yogurt or mix them into a smoothie.
- Walnuts have a lot of healthy fats and ALA omega-3 fatty acids. They are about 65% fat by weight.
- A number of studies have shown that walnuts may help to improve brain health8.
- In 2011, a study was conducted that showed the benefits of eating walnuts improved memory.
- Significant improvements in learning, memory, motor development and anxiety were shown in another study done on patients with Alzheimer's disease9.
- You can get more walnuts in your diet by adding them to your cereal or granola. Sprinkle them on yogurt or just grab a handful and enjoy them as a snack.
Most of these foods provide omega-3 fatty acids in the form of ALA. Your body can convert ALA into EPA and DHA, the active forms of omega-3 that your body needs. However, you should know that this conversion process is not very efficient. It can take a lot of ALA to meet your body's needs for EPA and DHA.
Algal oil is the only plant-based food we know of that provides high amounts of EPA and DHA directly. That's why our Vegan DHA supplement is sourced from algal oil. It's a great way to boost your omega-3 intake if you don't think you're getting enough from food alone. We also offer plant-based Omega + DHA Gummies that combine ALA from chia seed oil with DHA from algal oil.