Omega 3 is one of the important essential fats that our body cannot make on its own. Consequently, it must be supplied in the diet. Diet is a broad topic which has attracted varying opinion from different quarters. One of the prevalent debates is about vegan and vegetarians. Vegans and Vegetarian do not from consuming all types of meat including chicken and fish.
The difference between the two groups is that while vegetarians diet includes eggs, yoghurt, milk, cheese, honey and butter vegan do not consume any animal product. Omega 3 is mostly found in fish oil. These essential fats regulate several aspects of metabolism including fluid balance and cholesterol levels. Other benefits include
- Reduce the risk of heart disease
- Improve mental health
- Improve the strength and appearance of hair, nails and skin
Lack of Omega 3 can cause depression, fatigue impaired brain development in infants, heart problems and dry skin. Different authorities suggest varying amounts of Omega 3 that our body needs. For instance, the Food stands Agency in the United Kingdom recommends only 3 grams per week. However, most experts are inclined more towards 2-4 grams daily!
If vegan and vegetarians do not consume meat which is a rich source of omega 3, how do they acquire these fatty acids? Simple answer; by eating plant-based Omega 3 rich vegan food. In this article, we will explore five foods that are rich in omega 3.
1. Chia Seeds
In the recent past, Chia seeds have attracted mainstream attention thanks to the presence of significant amounts of Omega 3 in these tiny seeds. An ounce of Chia seed contains 4915 mg of Omega 3 fatty acid. It actually contains more Omega than salmon. In fact, This Omega 3 rich vegan food is referred to as Superfood especially in the marketing sphere.
Additionally, Chia seed contains proteins, zinc, Calcium, Iron, manganese fibre and other nutrients. As if that is not enough they are palatable and easy to incorporate in your diet. They are touted to provide benefits surpassing just nutritional value such as improving gut health and reducing cholesterol.
There are health claims that these seeds reduce weight and appetite, improve sugar levels and lowers triglycerides. They are also superb ingredients. Hence you can make Chia pudding, salad or mix with milk.
It is not surprising that Walnuts have made it in our list. They pack the right amount of Omega 3. Each cup of walnuts contains 3.356 grams of ALA.
It is no wonder why this Omega 3 rich vegan food is revered for their health benefits. Walnuts are a rich source of essential fats in our body including Omega 3 fatty acids. You can decide to have Walnuts on their own, or you can mix with other food including salad and snack bar.
To get the right amount Omega 3, you need more than 30 grams of walnuts each day. Walnuts are a great source of monounsaturated fats and Vitamin E. Also, This Omega 3 rich vegan food provides enough energy to keep you full for hours.
Seaweeds are an ideal food for vegans and vegetarians. Not only do they produce relatively large amounts of Omega 3, but it is the only vegan source that contains DHEA and EPA. Practically, each tablespoon of Seaweed contains 58mg Of Omega 3 and 88mg of Omega 6.
Blue-green algae which come in pill or powder form is also a great source of omega 3 in addition to nutrients like vitamins, iron and minerals. As if that is not enough, seaweed contains antioxidant and antidiabetic qualities.
The best choice of seaweed is Spirulina and Wakame. If you are a vegan, be sure to include this Omega 3 rich vegan plant into your salad or snack.
If you need to boost the amount of Omega in your body, Flaxseed should be part of your diet. It is one of the best vegetarian sources of omega 3. Though very small, these great seeds contain about 50 per cent of alpha-linolenic acid. One ounce of flax seeds contains 6388 mg of Omega 3. Better still you get an additional 1655 mg of omega 6.
Essentially this helps to keep on check the ratio of omega 3 and omega 6. If you need a more significant boost, be sure to use flax seeds oil. A tablespoon of flaxseed packs in 7196mg of omega 3. Surprising, isn’t it?
In addition to being a rich source of Omega 3 to vegetarian and vegans, they reduce inflammation, drop LDL cholesterol levels and provide beneficial effects on cardiovascular diseases. Flaxseeds contain protein, magnesium, manganese, fibre among other nutrients. You can easily incorporate flaxseeds into your diet by mixing with oatmeal, morning smoothie, sandwiches or soup. They are a great alternative to eggs for vegans.
5. Hemp seeds
Hemp seed boasts a significant quantity of omega 3. One ounce of Hemp seed provides 1100 omega 3 and 2700 omega 6. The ratio balance of omega 3 and omega 6 is important for heart health and reducing inflammations.
In addition, these seeds are rich in proteins, fiber minerals and antioxidants which are essential for health optimization. According to studies, hempseed is essential for heart, skin and digestion. Try some hemp seed next time you preparing a salad. You can also go for hempseed pesto or hemp seed hummus. Hempseed makes a stupendous topping for yoghurt, oatmeal and cereals.
Getting enough Omega 3 fatty acids can be quite challenging for vegans and vegetarians. However, with some strategic planning, you can get the right amount of essential fats by focusing on whole and nutrient-rich foods. If you experience inflammation or can’t get the required amount of omega 3, it is advisable to take omega 3 supplements.
The most popular supplements include Krill oil, Algae oil, Fish oil and cod liver oil. It is worth noting that hempseed, flaxseed and Chia seed only contain Omega 3 ALA. Hence they do not contribute to healthy Omega 3 and Omega 6 balance. There are other non-meat sources of omega 3. However, the five foods discussed above is a great place to start.