It’s wildly noted that that omega-3 fatty acids are found in fatty fish, are healthful and necessary types of fat providing an collection of health benefits. But, if you are vegan or plant-based and don’t consume fish, how would you get required dose of Omega-3? Are there plant-based options? Read below as we discuss this more in-depth.
What plant-based foods provide omega-3s?
Fish and fish oils are some of the most popular forms of omega-3s in the diet. However, there are some plant-based foods that also contain omega-3 fatty acids, such as flaxseeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, and kidney beans to name a few. Nonetheless, the key difference is in the type of omega-3s they contain.
Plant-based sources of omega-3s contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), the precursor to the other forms of omega-3s, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which are found in marine-based sources such as fish and fish oils. EPA and DHA are the most vital types of omega-3s for overall wellness, including brain, heart and eye health.
How do I choose a quality omega-3 supplement?
With any dietary supplement, when it comes to choosing a high-quality product, reading the label is the most important thing to do. Look for what types of omega-3s are present (ALA, EPA, and DHA), as well as where they are coming from.
Most plant-based omega-3 supplements that contain both EPA and DHA are algae-based. If a supplement is providing omega-3s from food sources such as flax, hemp, or walnuts, it is only supplying ALA, which means only a fraction will be converted to EPA and DHA in the body.
What can vegetarians take instead of fish oil?
If you’re looking for an omega-3 supplement with EPA and DHA but do not want it to include any ingredients with fish, you can choose an alternative with algae, mostly found in the form of algal oil.