By Dr. Sachin Singh | 21st Oct 2021
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids that have numerous health benefits. It helps to reduce inflammation, blood triglycerides, and even the risk of dementia.
Fish oil and fatty fish such as salmon, trout, and tuna are the most well-known sources of omega-3 fatty acids. It makes it difficult for vegans, vegetarians, or people who simply dislike fish to meet their omega-3 fatty acid requirements.
Plant foods typically contain only alpha-linolenic acid, one of the three main types of omega-3 fatty acids (ALA).
To provide the same health benefits, ALA must be converted to two other forms of omega-3 fatty acids :
Unfortunately, your body’s ability to convert ALA is restricted. Only about 5% of ALA is converted to EPA, and less than 0.5% is converted to DHA. As a result, if you don’t supplement with fish oil or get EPA or DHA from your diet, it’s critical to eat a variety of ALA-rich foods to meet your omega-3 requirements.
Keep your omega-6 to omega-3 ratio in mind as well because a diet low in omega-3 but high in omega-6 can increase inflammation and your risk of disease.
Chia seeds are well-known for their numerous health benefits, providing a substantial amount of fibre and protein with each serving. They’re also a good source of ALA omega-3 fatty acids from plants. Chia seeds are shown in studies to reduce the risk of chronic disease when consumed as part of a healthy diet due to their omega-3, fibre, and protein content. Eating chia seeds, nopal, soy protein, and oats reduced blood triglycerides, glucose intolerance, and inflammatory markers.
A 2007 animal study discovered that eating chia seeds reduced blood triglycerides while increasing “good” HDL cholesterol and omega-3 levels.
With a whopping 4,915 mg of essential fatty acids in just one ounce (28 grams) of chia seeds, you can meet and exceed your daily recommended intake. For adults over the age of 19, the current daily recommended ALA intake is 1100 mg for women and 1600 mg for men.
Make a nutritious chia pudding or sprinkle chia seeds on top of salads, yoghurt, or smoothies to up your chia seed intake. Chia seeds, ground, can also be used as a vegan substitute for eggs. To replace one egg in recipes, combine one tablespoon (7 grams) with three tablespoons of water.
Brussels sprouts are an excellent source of omega-3 acids, in addition to being rich in vitamin K, vitamin C, and fibre.
Because cruciferous vegetables, such as Brussels sprouts, are high in nutrients and omega-3 acids, they have been linked to a variety of health benefits.
One study discovered that eating more cruciferous vegetables is associated with a 16% lower risk of heart disease.
A half-cup (44 g) of raw Brussels sprouts contains approximately 44 mg of ALA.
Cooked Brussels sprouts, on the other hand, contain three times as much, with 135 mg of omega-3 fatty acids in each half-cup (78-gram) serving.
Brussels sprouts are a healthy and delicious addition to any meal, whether roasted, steamed, blanched, or stir-fried.
Algal oil, which is derived from algae, is one of the few vegan sources of both EPA and DHA.
Some studies have found that it is equivalent to seafood in terms of EPA and DHA nutritional availability.
One study compared algal oil capsules to cooked salmon and discovered that both were well-tolerated and absorption-equivalent.
Despite limited research, animal studies show that DHA from algal oil is especially beneficial to health.
A recent animal study discovered that supplementing mice with a DHA algal oil compound improved memory. More research is needed, however, to determine the extent of its health benefits.
Algal oil supplements, which are most commonly available in soft gel form, typically provide 400–500 mg of combined DHA and EPA. It is generally recommended to consume 300–900 mg of combined DHA and EPA per day.
Algal oil supplements are widely available in most pharmacies. For a dose of healthy fats, liquid forms can be added to drinks or smoothies.
Hemp seeds, in addition to protein, magnesium, iron, and zinc, are about 30% oil and contain a good amount of omega-3 acids.
Animal studies have revealed that the omega-3 fatty acids found in hemp seeds may be beneficial to heart health. They may accomplish this by preventing the formation of blood clots and assisting the heart in its recovery following a heart attack.
An ounce (28 grams) of hemp seeds contains about 6,000 mg of ALA.
To add crunch and increase the omega-3 content of your snack, sprinkle hemp seeds on top of yoghurt or mix them into a smoothie. Also, making your own hemp seed granola bars is a simple way to combine hemp seeds with other healthy ingredients like flaxseeds and get more omega-3 acids.
Hemp seed oil, produced by pressing hemp seeds, can also be consumed to provide a concentrated dose of omega-3 acids.
Walnuts are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and healthy fats. It contain approximately 65 per cent fat by weight. Because of their omega-3 content, walnuts have been linked to improved brain health in several animal studies.
A 2011 animal study discovered that eating walnuts were linked to improved learning and memory.
Another animal study found that walnuts improved memory, learning, motor development, and anxiety in mice with Alzheimer’s disease.
A single ounce (28 grams) of walnuts contains 2,542 mg of omega-3 acids, which is enough to meet an entire day’s worth.
To increase your ALA intake, add walnuts to your homemade granola or cereal, sprinkle them on top of yoghurt, or simply snack on a handful.
Flaxseeds are an excellent source of omega-3 acids. It is known as nutritional powerhouse, with each serving containing a good amount of fibre, protein, magnesium, and manganese.
Several studies have shown that flaxseeds have heart-healthy benefits, owing largely to their omega-3 fatty acid content.
Multiple studies have shown that flaxseeds and flaxseed oil both lower cholesterol.
Another study discovered that flaxseeds can significantly lower blood pressure, especially in those with high blood pressure.
One ounce (28 grams) of flaxseeds contains 6,388 mg of ALA omega-3 acids, which is more than twice the daily recommended amount.
Flaxseeds are simple to incorporate into your diet and can be a mainstay in vegan baking.
To use as a handy substitute for one egg in baked goods, combine one tablespoon (7 grams) of flaxseed meal with 2.5 tablespoons of water.
Flaxseed, with its mild yet slightly nutty flavour, is also an excellent addition to cereal, oatmeal, soups, and salads.
This oil, derived from perilla seeds, is commonly used as a condiment and cooking oil in Korean cuisine. It is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids in addition to being a versatile and flavourful ingredient.
One study with 20 elderly participants found that replacing soybean oil with perilla oil caused ALA levels in the blood to double. It also resulted in an increase in EPA and DHA blood levels over time.
Perilla oil is high in omega-3 acids, with ALA accounting for approximately 64% of the seed oil.
Each tablespoon (14 g) contains almost 9,000 mg of ALA omega-3 acids.
Perilla oil can be used as a flavour enhancer or dressing instead of cooking oil to maximize its health benefits. This is because oils high in polyunsaturated fats can oxidize with heat, resulting in the formation of harmful free radicals that contribute to disease.
Perilla oil is also available in capsule form, making it a quick and easy way to boost your omega-3 intake.
Omega 3 fatty acids are essential to your diet and health.
If you don’t eat fish for dietary or personal reasons, you can still reap the benefits of essential fatty acids in your diet.
It is possible to meet your needs without eating seafood by incorporating a few omega-3-rich foods into your diet or opting for a plant-based supplement.
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