by Laurice Wardini

Omega-3 fatty acids are an essential nutrient that many don’t know about (or get enough of). If you’re on a plant-based diet, it will be even more difficult to reach your limit if you don’t prepare yourself. This article will educate you on what omega-3 fatty acids are and how to get them, even if you follow a plant-based diet.

What Are Omega-3’s?

Omega-3 fatty acids are just one type of essential fatty acids, nutrients that are important in our diet. The body cannot produce these on its own, so we must get them from food or supplements. Without them, the body will stop functioning properly. 

There are three types of omega-3 fatty acids: alpha-linolenic acid (AHA), eicosapentaenoic acid (ELA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Once consumed, the body is able to turn these into other types of fatty acids that help the body stay healthy.

ELA and DHA are prominently found in fish and algae oil, while ALA is found in plant sources. Although ALA is beneficial, it’s harder for the body to convert and you need to consume much more to have the same effect. This is why fish and algae oil are preferred sources of omega-3. 

What About Omega-6?

Although omega-6 fatty acids are important as well, they’re not as difficult to get. They’re not as common of a concern because of this.

On the contrary, we should watch our intake because many people eat foods with too much omega-6 fatty acids (such as fast food). This can increase inflammation and has been linked to depression. 

Sources of Omega-3 (Vegan)

The most well-known sources of omega-3 fatty acids come from fish. If you’re following a plant-based diet, however, there are still complete sources to get your daily dose. 

Most people don’t know that fish don’t produce these fatty acids on their own – they get them from the algae they eat! This is why vegan omega-3 supplements are often made with algae oil.  

There are also a few plant-based foods that contain omega-3. However, you’ll need to eat a lot of these foods to reach a good amount. It might be more beneficial to invest in a supplement. Even with a supplement, it’s a great idea to add these healthy foods to your diet.  

Best Plant-Based Sources:

  • Flaxseed (flaxseed oil is a popular alternative to algae oil supplements)
  • Chia Seeds
  • Walnuts & Walnut Oil
  • Hemp Seeds 
  • Canola Oil
  • Garlic
  • Olive Oil 
  • The Many Health Benefits

    Omega-3 fatty acids have shown to support a wealth of health benefits in all different areas of the body. These are just a few of the major benefits provided by this fatty acid. 

    Decreased Depression

    Research has shown that omega-3 supplements have been tied to lower depression rates.

    Reduced Inflammation

    Chronic inflammation has been linked to just about every major disease including diabetes, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease and cancer. Omega-3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation, which reduces the likelihood of developing these diseases. 

    Cardiovascular Health

    Omega-3 is incredible for the heart and cardiovascular system. It reduces the likelihood of developing heart issues, lessens the chance of cardiac death, lowers blood pressure, decreases triglycerides, and has even shown to slow plaque development in the arteries. 

    Brain & Eye Health

    DHA is an important structural part of nerve cells in the brain and eyes. To no surprise, a deficiency in DHA can lead to vision issues.  

    How Much Omega-3 Should I Take?

    There isn’t an official limit, but a typical minimum amount is 250–500mg of combined EHA and DHA for adults. 

    Bottom Line

    Omega-3 fatty acids are an essential nutrient that everyone should ensure they’re getting enough of, especially for those following a plant-based diet. However, it’s not difficult to get them once you’re aware of what foods and supplements contain them.

    Laurice Wardini
    Laurice Wardini