Vegetarian sources of Omega 3 are more common than most people know. Your body remains healthy when you ensure that you are treating it right, which means eating the right foods and building the right habits with the help of nutritional information. Dietary Omega 3 intake boils down to eating habits, especially for vegetarians due to frugal sources.
Omega 3 is a healthy fat (fatty acid) required for multiple functions in our body. Muscles derive energy from fatty acids, while the health of heart muscles and skin is also dependent on fatty acids like Omega 3 as it is the building block for cell membranes.
We cannot produce fatty acids on our own, so we must get them from the diet. The modern diet is severely lacking in Omega 3s and the common foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids include fish oils and fatty fish, like salmon and tuna. This does not leave a lot of options for the vegetarian eater.
Below is a nutrition food list of plant-based omega-3 sources that are viable options even for the vegan eater.
1. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are known for their high fiber and protein with each serving. But this superfood is also a great plant-based source of ALA omega-3 fatty acids. Studies suggest that Chia seeds can decrease the risk of many lifestyle chronic disorders when consumed regularly.
2. Brussel Sprouts
Half a cup of cooked Brussel sprouts has as much as 135mg of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). This is almost 50 per cent of your recommended daily intake of omega-3 from a single vegetarian source. Brussel sprouts have additional benefit due to the richness in vitamin K, vitamin C and fiber, thus also serving as an excellent satiety food and assisting weight loss. Whether they’re roasted, steamed, blanched or stir-fried, Brussel sprouts make a healthy and delicious accompaniment to any meal.
This is my favourite mid-day snack. Walnuts are loaded with healthy fats and ALA omega-3 fatty acids. In fact, walnuts are comprised of about 65 per cent fat by weight, but it’s the good fat that your body needs. The high omega-3 content in walnut has also been linked with improving heart health and brain functioning in different age groups.
Flaxseeds (or san ka beej) are nutritional powerhouses, providing a good amount of fiber, protein, magnesium and manganese in each serving. They’re also an excellent source of omega-3s. Flax seeds are considered heart-healthy mainly due to their rich content of omega-3 fatty acid in the form of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Both flaxseeds and flaxseed oil have been shown to reduce cholesterol. In fact, flaxseed oil is by far the richest source of ALA with about 7g per tablespoon. Flaxseeds are a convenient inclusion in daily diet, especially when sprinkled over cereals during breakfast or used as oil during vegan cooking and baking.
Sea fish is supposed to be the best source of omega 3. But did you know where these sea fish get these omega 3 from? It’s from seaweed.This is commonly sold as Spirulina powder and is probably one of the richest sources of EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) as well as DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). The other superfoods I mentioned only contain ALA or alpha linoleic acid. ALA is later converted by our body into EPA and DHA but not so efficiently. However, vegetarians looking to take spirulina needs to first consult a registered dietician or physician as it is not suitable for everyone.
Other sources of omega 3 include plant-based oils like soybean oil and canola oil. I highly recommend choosing seeds as these are superfoods with multiple health benefits and can be included in many creative ways in your daily diet.
About The Author: Luke Coutinho is a holistic nutritionist and an integrative medicine and lifestyle practitioner. He is the founder of Pure Nutrition.