Some Of The Best Sources Of Omega-3s For Vegans
While vegan diets are frequently heralded as environmentally friendly and better for the body, research has shown that strictly plant-based diets often suffer from a lack of essential nutrients the body needs. So, there is a constant debate on the best sources to supplement the lack of nutrients.
Omega-3 fatty acids are one of these essential elements that are more difficult to wedge into a vegan diet. There are three main types: alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Omega-3 plays a role in many aspects of our health, and research has connected it to several benefits.
There are many reasons to find great ways to include Omega-3 into your vegan diet. Here are some of the benefits of reaching the recommended daily intake.
Decreased Inflammation & Better Brain Function
These are both critical in maintaining heart health. Those who regularly meet the recommended omega-3 dosage have decreased C-reactive protein, interleukin 6, and a tumor necrosis factor. This is a fancy way of saying that chemicals associated with bodily inflammation are reduced.
As with most vitamins and nutrients, having a healthy balance in the body increases your ability to maintain homeostasis. Better homeostasis improves sleep, which improves mental health, which improves sleep. It’s a cycle that spirals upward and increases life quality and satisfaction.
Improved Heart & Bone Health
Research suggests that Omega-3 fatty acids might decrease the risk of heart disease. These fatty acids have been shown to reduce blood pressure and triglyceride levels.
Omega-3 has been found to increase calcium absorption in the bones. This prevents bone density issues and bone loss and supports healthy joints. Often, inflammation coupled with bone decay causes joint pain. Reducing these two aspects, Omega-3 relieves joint pain and can improve conditions like rheumatoid arthritis.
Getting Omega-3 In Your Vegan Diet
As mentioned before, getting Omega-3 into a vegan diet is difficult. The primary reason is that most plant-based alternatives provide ALA, which the body cannot readily use. Instead, it converts it into EPA and DHA at 5% and .5%, respectively. So, most of the omega-3 is just waste. Fish and fish-based products provide EPA and DHA directly, which is ideal.
Luckily, there are still vegan-friendly sources of all three fatty acids.
Brussels Sprouts are a great alternative due to their diversity and utility. They can be boiled, baked, and even stir-fried. They give ALA and not a great amount, but they are easy to incorporate into meals. You won’t have to go out of your way as much with them.
Walnuts, Chia Seeds, And Flaxseed
These three are also excellent sources of ALA. They contain a startling amount of ALA per ounce and are great in granola bars, smoothies, or even just as a standalone snack. They are more challenging to incorporate than Brussels sprouts because they generally want specially prepared meals like smoothies. However, you can add them to salads or yogurt as well.
Perilla Oil And Spirulina
These oils and powders, respectively, are great cooking and baking additives. Spirulina can pack a healthy boost of Omega-3 to start your day right if you are making a smoothie or pancakes.
Perilla is an oil often used in Korean dishes. It goes well with cooking just about anything in a pan. You can also add it to salad dressing.
This is a top-tier supplement because it is one of the few sources of direct EPA and DHA. Each pill usually contains between 400-500 milligrams of EPA and DHA. It’s an excellent source of your daily omega-3 and eliminates the need for complicated dietary routines.