We all know that we need Omega-3 oils in our diets to remain healthy. It has also been ingrained in us that oily fish such as salmon and mackerel are excellent sources of Omega-3. Due to marketing, some of us may even think that seafood is the only way to access the nutrition that fish-based Omega-3 provides. But is this really true?

Research that there are plant-based sources of Omega-3 oils is starting to gain traction and increasingly, people (especially those on a plant-based diet and those who dislike the taste of fish) are beginning to realise that there are other ways to obtain Omega-3 other than ingesting fish or fish oils.

There are three main types of omega-3 fatty acid, which are called ALA, DHA, and EPA.

Plant sources, such as nuts and seeds, are rich in ALA, while seaweed, and algae can provide DHA and EPA fatty acids. 

Here are 8 plant-based sources of Omega-3 fatty acids.

  1. Soybean Oil

Soybean oil contains approximately 0.9g of ALA per tbsp. By using soybean oil for cooking, we can benefit from the ALA that it provides. We can also use it as a salad dressing. Apart from ALA, soybean oil is also a good source of

  • riboflavin
  • magnesium
  • potassium
  • folgate
  • Vitamin K
Photo by Patrick Perkins on Unsplash

2. Algae and Seaweed

Seaweed, nori, spirulina, and chlorella are different forms of algae that many people eat for their health benefits.

Seaweed and algae are important sources of omega-3 for people on a vegetarian or vegan diet, as they are one of the few plant groups that contain DHA and EPA.

There are many ways to include these foods in the diet. For example:

  • Nori is the seaweed that most people use to wrap around sushi.
  • Seaweed is a tasty, crispy snack.
  • Chlorella and spirulina make a healthful addition to smoothies, a protein shake post-work-out or oatmeal.

Seaweed is also protein rich and is said to have anti diabetic, anti oxidant or anti hypertensive properties.

3. Hemp Seeds

Hemp seeds contain an estimate of 2.6g of ALA in every 3 tbsp.

They are also rich in many nutrients, including:

  • protein
  • magnesium
  • iron
  • zinc

Hemp seeds make an excellent addition to granola, oats, snack bars, salads, smoothies, yoghurt and a post workout protein shake.

4. Chia seeds

Chia seeds are an excellent plant-based source of ALA omega-3 fatty acids which are also packed with protein and fibre.

People can use these seeds as an ingredient in granola, salads, or smoothies, or they can mix them with milk or yoghurt to make chia pudding. Mixing chia seeds with water also creates an egg substitute that vegans can use.

5. Walnuts

Walnuts contain about 3.3g of ALA per cup. Walnuts are a great source of healthful fats, including ALA omega-3 fatty acids.

6. Flaxseeds

Flaxseeds contain circa 6.7g of ALA per tbsp.

Flaxseeds are rich in many other nutrients, including:

  • fibre
  • protein
  • magnesium
  • manganese

As with chia seeds, people can mix flaxseeds with water to create a vegan egg replacement. It is also easy to incorporate them into the diet by adding them to oatmeal, cereal, or salad.

Photo by Curtis Thornton on Unsplash

7. Edamame

A half-cup of frozen edamame beans contains nearly 0.3g of ALA.

Edamame beans are immature soybeans that are particularly popular in Japan. They are not only rich in omega-3s but are a great source of plant-based protein.

Boiled or steamed edamame beans work well in a salad or as a side dish.

8. Kidney Beans

Kidney beans are one of the most common beans to include in meals or eat as a side dish. People can add them to curries or stews or eat them with rice. Accessible and nutritious.

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