Omega-3 fatty acids are essential to our health for several reasons. Omega-3s are often well-known for occurring in fish, with many people taking fish oil capsules in order to get in this nutrient. However, there are vegetarian and vegan omega-3 sources as well. There are 3 types of omega 3 fatty acids, and one of these, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), is often found in plants, making for good vegan and vegetarian sources.  

Benefits of omega-3

Omega-3 has many health benefits and should not be overlooked as it is a necessary nutrient.Omega 3 fatty acids have been associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and reduced risk of certain cancers. Omega fats can also buffer inflammation in the body; inflammation is associated with everything from autoimmune disorders to metabolic disease to excess weight. Omega-3 is also brain food and has been associated with better cognitive function, reduced cognitive decline and improved mood such as reduced incidence of  depression and anxiety. So it’s no surprise that many people are looking to include more of it in their diet.

Vegetarian omega 3 sources

Algal oil: if you’re looking for a supplemental source of omega-3’s, you can’t go wrong with algal oil. Some studies have shown it to be similar in effectiveness to fish oils when it comes to the benefits of omega-3s. It is also one of the few vegan- and vegetarian-friendly sources of both EPA and DHA.

Walnuts: walnuts are one great vegan- and vegetarian- friendly source of omega-3. One serving (one ounce) provides 2,542 milligrams of alpha linoleic acid (ALA), one of the types of omega-3’s. 

Seeds: some seeds, such as hemp seeds, flaxseeds, and chia seeds, are excellent sources of omega-3. With flaxseeds, be sure to grind them before eating in order to get the maximum benefits, since the body can not digest them whole. 

Spirulina: this source of omega 3 is actually derived from algae. It is vegan friendly. Spirulina contains 230 mg per ounce of omega-3, and also is a great source of vegan and vegetarian friendly protein and many nutrients. 

Brussels sprouts: these contain just about 87 milligrams of ALA for a one cup serving, but are a great addition to a meal and contain many other nutrients and health benefits as well. 

Perilla oil: often used in Korean cooking, this seed oil contains an astounding 9,000 mg of ALA omega-3 fatty acids per serving. For maximum benefits, don’t heat this oil.

So just because fish oil is out of the question, it does not mean that you won’t be able to reap the benefits of the amazing superfood that is omega-3. Use these functional ingredients in your cooking to enhance it and enhance your well-being. Wishing you good health!