September 11, 2019 · Written by Foodtolive Team
Vegan Sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3s are a type of fatty acid, which, besides having a large part in several body functions like vision and cognition, contain many health benefits. Since the body is unable to make fatty acids on its own, it’s necessary to get it from outside sources, specifically, food.
Many of the most common sources of fatty acids come from animal products. Seafood has some of the highest levels of fatty acids, making it a go-to choice for people looking to get more omega-3s. But for those who follow a vegan diet, it’s crucial to find other ways to consume this necessary compound.
Many vegans may be aware of the importance of omega-3s, but many do not get these fatty acids from natural sources and instead rely on supplements.
The recommended amount of omega-3 fatty acids for adults suggested by the Food and Agriculture Association of the United Nations (FAO) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is about 250 mg per day. Some experts believe that vegans need twice that amount.
Fortunately, there are many alternatives to meat and seafood, so getting enough omega-3s is easier than ever. Here are our top 10 vegan sources of Omega-3 fatty acids.
Chia, hemp, and flaxseeds are full of omega-3s while also being rich in protein and fiber, making them an excellent choice for vegans. Not only are these seed varieties inexpensive, but they can also be added to any number of meals. Sprinkle them over a coconut yogurt parfait, in a salad, or a smoothie for added texture and that extra boost in nutrition.
Like most nuts, walnuts are high in protein and healthy fats. They also have about 3 grams of omega-3s per serving. It’s easy to mix up ways to eat walnuts, too. Try them roasted, in a homemade trail mix, or atop a delicious acorn squash soup for a delicious autumn meal.
Kidney beans are a cheap and versatile way to get more omega-3s. They taste great with just about anything: rice, vegan chili, and curry are just a few ideas to start.
One of the best things about soybean oil is that besides being a rich source of fatty acids, it contains riboflavin, potassium, magnesium, folate, and vitamin K. It’s excellent for cooking or using it as a salad dressing.
Similarly, edamame, which are young soybeans, are also a good source of omega-3s. These are good to eat alone with a dash of sea salt, or as part of a vegan-friendly stir fry.
Perilla oil is most commonly used in Korean dishes but can also be used as both a dressing and a way to enhance recipes. 64% of this oil consists of fatty acids. It can also be taken as a supplement in pill form to get the same benefits.
One cup of wild rice contains nearly 500 mg of omega-3s as well as lots of fiber, magnesium, zinc, and other minerals to support healthy brain and body health. Rice pairs well with many of the foods on this list, so you can create a meal that is sure to help meet the daily recommended amount of omega-3s.
Cauliflower has risen in popularity as a substitute for gluten-free recipes such as pizza and rice. It has many nutrients that promote heart health and also contains 37 mg of omega-3s.
The best way to enjoy this vegetable and keep its nutrition is by steaming it for no more than 6 minutes, then toss it with lemon juice and olive oil.
Here’s one more reason to love hummus: one serving has about 300 mg of omega-3s. Made from sesame seeds, which have lots of omega-3s, this delicious, guilt-free food is one that vegans (or anyone) can enjoy with baby carrots, crackers, and much more.
Eat Well, Live Well
There are so many different foods that vegans can eat to make sure they get the right amount of omega-3s and other fatty acids without relying on pills or supplements. Many of these options are easy to find in stores, are affordable, and pair with many foods to create a diet that is rich not only in nutrition but flavor as well.
Add these to your grocery store list to make sure you’re getting this important nutrient in your meals.