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Omega-3 fatty acids are important for health and wellbeing. There are three main types of omega-3 fatty acids: ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), DHA (eicosapentaenoic acid), and EPA (docosahexaenoic acid). Consuming a variety of omega-3s helps promote heart health by reducing inflammation in our blood vessels and lowering triglyceride levels, reducing the risk of heart disease, and is vital for mood stabilization and other age-related mental impairments. DHA in particular is the most critical and major structural fat in our eyes and cerebral cortex, the part of our brain that supports memory, language, emotions and attention.
Many people believe that omega-3 fatty acids are only found in non-vegetable sources such as oily fish. However, there are many plant-based foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids, and it is crucial that fish contain omega-3 fatty acids because they eat plankton and algae. Vegetable sources are both more ethical and sustainable as they do not contribute to the depletion of marine species and the plastic pollution associated with fishing. Not to mention, fish-based supplements, oils, and seafood often come with the risk of mercury poisoning, which also makes vegetable omega-3s a safer option.
1. Seaweed & seaweed
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Seaweed, nori, spirulina, and chlorella are different types of seaweed and all are great plant sources of omega-3s. They are one of the few plant groups that contain both DHA and EPA fatty acids and can easily be included in our diet. Seaweed can be used as a snack, nori is the type of seaweed sushi is made from, and other variations like kombu can be added to miso soups. Chlorella and spirulina are often sold in powder form and can be added to smoothies, porridges, and juices.
2. Chia seeds
Another great source of omega-3s, especially ALA, chia seeds are high in protein and fiber. Each 1-ounce serving of chia seeds contains more than 5 grams of ALA and can be easily incorporated into meals as a topping on porridge, an ingredient in cereals, salads, and smoothies. Chia seeds can also be left in water or plant-based milk to use as an egg substitute for baking.
3. Hemp seeds
Auxiliary seeds are also an excellent source of ALA, containing 2.6 grams of ALA per 3 tablespoons. Like chia seeds, hemp seeds can be sprinkled over salads, smoothie bowls, vegan yogurt, and porridge. Not only are hemp seeds high in omega-3 fatty acids, but they’re also filled with other nutrients like magnesium, iron, and zinc, all of which contribute to healthy skin, heart health, digestion, and skin.
Flaxseed contains 6.7 grams of ALA per tablespoon, making it one of the most efficient vegetable sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Not only are they high in ALA, but they’re also high in fiber, protein, and magnesium. Just like chia seeds, they can be used as a vegan egg substitute, added to smoothies, and sprinkled on salads and oatmeal. You can also try using flaxseed oil as a dressing for salads.
Nuts are a great source of healthy fats, including omega-3 fatty acids. Just take a handful of them or add them to any dish. They’re also a common ingredient in many trails or energy bars.
Source: Academy for Nutrition
While edamame doesn’t contain a large amount of omega-3 fatty acids, half a cup contains 0.28 grams of ALA, so it can be included in your diet along with other plant sources to increase your intake. Enjoy them in dishes or just eat a few.
7. Kidney beans
Source: Healthy Bazaar
Who knew kidney beans contain omega-3 fatty acids? Like edamame, kidney beans aren’t high in omega-3 fatty acids with 0.1 g of ALA per half cup. But because they’re such a versatile ingredient for everything from salads to stews to curries, it’s an easy way to add them to your diet to increase your omega-3 intake.
8. Herbal supplement
Source: Dr Weil
Depending on how many plant-based omega-3 sources we can include in our diet, we may still need one additional supplement to meet the recommended guidelines of 250 to 500 milligrams per day for adults. Plant-based people who may not enjoy eating nuts and seeds, or have allergies to them, may opt for algae-based omega-3 supplements, which are usually available in pill form, such as: B. Spirulina tablets.
Would you like to know about other vitamins and nutrients you may be missing and how to add them to a vegan diet? Read more about it Here.
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