Learn how to get omega-3 without eating fish by consuming vegan DHA, EPA, and ALA. Add these seven plant-based omega-3 sources into your diet today! Read on to find out more.
8 Vegan DHA and Plant-Based Omega-3 Sources When You Don’t Want to Eat Fish
Omega-3 Definition: It is a type of polyunsaturated fat that may have anti-inflammatory properties. Omega-3 fatty acids help in managing and preventing heart diseases.
One of the best sources for vegan DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) is none other than algae. It shouldn’t come as a surprise since fish and krill feed on them.
They can even be a better source of omega-3 than fish and other known fatty acid sources in many ways:
- Algae are a more sustainable and environment-friendly source of omega-3.
- They contain EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA unlike nuts and seeds, which have a different kind of omega-3.
- You can get the same amount of EPA and DHA as you’d get from fish without the risks of consuming toxins.
Most of all, you don’t need to force yourself to eat them since you can already get plant-based omega-3 supplements with algae as the primary ingredient.
Another plant-based vegan DHA source of omega-3 is seaweed, a type of macroalgae. The levels, however, may not be as high as those in algae because of its lower fat content.
They’re still worth adding to your diet since they are rich in vitamins and minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and B12.
It is an excellent source of iodine, too, which is helpful for people with thyroid issues like hypothyroidism. It is a thyroid condition characterized by the low production of thyroid hormones.
RELATED: Get Your Thyroid Healthy
Spirulina is also another source of omega-3 from plants and shares similar characteristics with seaweeds. Vegan DHA content in this food is low, but it has high amounts of EPA and omega-6 fatty acids.
What’s more, it is a powerful antioxidant and an alternative to the commercial sugary protein shakes. This is because it contains as much as 70% of protein by dry weight.
One of the super greens, spirulina is easy to incorporate into your diet. You can sprinkle some powder into your salad or add it to your morning shake.
One of the best sources for non-fish omega-3 is flaxseed. You can consume it in many different ways: milled, ground, or oil.
These seeds contain as much as 42% of fat, of which 73% are polyunsaturated fatty acids, including omega-3 and omega-6.
Flaxseeds also contain lignans. These are phytochemicals that provide anti-estrogen effects once they pass through the small intestine.
It makes this vegan omega-3 source a possible option for balancing hormones, especially when you have high estrogen levels. It may also decrease your risks of reproductive cancers such as breast cancer.
5. Chia Seed
Chia seeds are very high in omega-3. Besides the fatty acid, you can also make chia seed a protein substitute since the macronutrient makes up around 20% of it.
It is also more economical and practical than flaxseed. It doesn’t turn rancid even if it’s left at room temperature for two years.
You can also consume it in various ways, and there’s no need to mill or grind this. You can use it as an ingredient in your baking products or as a delicious breakfast such as this coconut chia seed pudding.
RELATED: 21 of the Best Uses for Chia Seeds
6. Hemp Seed
If you are tired of the common omega-3 seeds such as flaxseed and chia seed, then there’s one more omega-3 for vegans you can try — hemp seed.
Some people may be wary about consuming it because of its cannabinoids, but hemp is not marijuana. It contains no more than 0.3% of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) by dry weight, a substance that produces psychoactive effects.
Like other nuts and seeds, it has ALA (α-linolenic acid), a type of omega-3 fatty acid that can potentially decrease the risks of cardiovascular disorders. It also contains significant amounts of vitamins C and A, protein, and fiber.
Apart from seeds, nuts are omega-3 food sources, and on top of the list are walnuts. A quarter-cup of this nut will already give you more than your daily recommended value of omega-3 fatty acids.
The same amount of servings will also provide you with 53% copper, 19% biotin, and 44% manganese. Walnuts can be helpful for people with cardiovascular disease by lowering blood pressure.
Another study showed it may improve your digestive health. Using animal models, researchers discovered it can increase the diversity of your gut bacteria.
Walnuts are also versatile. You can eat them as snacks or chop them to add to your salads.
8. Brussel Sprouts
Brussel sprouts are a member of the Brassicaceae family of vegetables and closely related to kale, cauliflower and mustard greens. These cruciferous vegetables resemble mini cabbages and are loaded with high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. They are considered the perfect food for the skin because they are high in vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids. Each serving of brussel sprouts contains 430 milligrams of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). It is best to steam the brussel sprouts before consuming them for optimal absorptions.
Choosing the Right Vegan Sources of Omega-3
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids, which means the body cannot produce them. They have to come from outside sources, which can be animals or plants such as nuts, seeds, and other plant sources.
There are many types of omega-3 such as EPA, DHA, and ALA. They differ not only in their chemical structure but also how the body synthesizes them.
The latter is vital information since it highlights the benefits of vegan DHA from plants such as algae. The body needs to convert ALA into DHA and EPA for it to become useful.
The problem is the body doesn’t convert all of ALA to DHA or EPA. On average, only 21% becomes EPA and less than 10% transforms into DHA.
The percentage of conversion also depends on gender and age. Younger women tend to be more efficient in changing ALA to EPA and DHA than men, possibly because of their estrogen levels.
This doesn’t mean you should not eat nuts, seeds, and other plant-based omega-3 options. Otherwise, you will miss out on their health benefits.
If you’re looking for the best source of omega-3, especially vegan DHA, you may want to begin here.
Know more about Vegan Omega 3 DHA EPA from Sustainable Algae Sunwarrior in this video:
With vegan DHA, EPA, and ALA, you don’t need to worry about eating fish and other types of meat to boost your fatty acid intake. These options also make it easier for you to switch to a plant-based diet, which is a healthier diet for your body.
How do you incorporate vegan DHA and omega-3 into your meals? Share your tips in the comments section below!
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