Omega 3 without fish

Fish-Free Ways to Get Your Omega-3s

With every new study of omega-3 fatty acids, the list of the health benefits grows.

A few examples: Omega-3 capsules reduced symptoms of depression and other menopause symptoms in women after just eight weeks, a recent study in the journal Menopause found. In trials of nearly 40,000 patients, consuming fatty fish twice a week lowered a person’s risk of heart problems and also improved outcomes after a heart attack or heart failure, a study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found.

People who regularly eat baked or broiled fish have larger brains — and a lower risk of cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease — than those who do not, a study presented at the Radiological Society of North America’s annual meeting concluded.

“Low intakes of omega-3 fats have been linked to a long, nasty list of diseases including heart attacks, depression, arthritis, Alzheimer’s, macular degeneration, autoimmune diseases, ADD, allergies, and asthma,” says Ann Kulze, MD, a nutrition and wellness expert and author of the Eat Right for Life book series. “Conversely, higher intakes of omega-3 fats have been associated with protection from many of these same diseases.”

Although estimates of just what level of omega-3 fatty acids is necessary to derive the benefits vary widely, it typically centers on a combination of DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) found in fish. “Most nutrition experts, myself included, recommend an intake of 500 milligrams to 1,000 milligrams of the long-chained omega-3 fats, DHA and EPA, daily,” Kulze says.

If you already eat oily, omega-3-rich fish, such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, sardines, herring, and lake trout, two to three times a week, you should be covered . But some experts believe even more omega-3s might be valuable. Lona Sandon, RD, an assistant professor of clinical nutrition at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas recommends adults consume a little less than 2 g (2,000 mg) per day.

If you’re not a fish fan or don’t eat it because you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, there are still ways you can get these essential fatty acids. A top option is omega-3-enriched eggs (yolk and all), which have a natural form of DHA and EPA in them. “Seafood and omega-3 eggs are the only omega-3 foods that can provide the biologically active forms, DHA and EPA,” Kulze says.

Plant-Based Alternatives to Omega-3 Fatty Acids

A number of nuts, seeds, and other plant-based foods and oils do contain omega-3 fatty acids, though a different type than the EPA and DHA in fish and eggs. “There are two major types of omega-3 fatty acids in our diets,” says Laura Moore, RD, LD, director of the dietetic internship at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. “The other type is alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is found in some vegetable oils, such as soybean, rapeseed (canola), and flaxseed, and in walnuts. ALA is also found in some green vegetables, such as Brussels sprouts, kale, spinach, and salad greens. The body partially converts ALA to EPA and DHA.”

Here are some plant-based options to try:

  • Flaxseeds. Flaxseeds are the richest source of ALA in our diets. By mixing 1 tablespoon of flaxseed oil with food or by adding 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseeds to your morning yogurt, oatmeal, or cereal, you can get 57 percent of your daily value of ALA.
  • Mixed greens. A salad of kale, spinach, and other dark leafy greens is another excellent choice. One cup gives you 56 percent of your daily value, so eat 2 cups to get over the hump.
  • Canola oil. While not as potent as flaxseed oil, a tablespoon of canola oil gives you 11 percent of the amount of ALA you need on a daily basis. It’s best not to rely too heavily on it because like all oils, it is high in calories.
  • Walnuts. A quarter-cup provides 14 percent of the ALA you need every day, along with other nutrients such as manganese. Again because of the calories, limit portions.
  • Soybeans and tofu. A tablespoon of soybean oil, a cup of cooked soybeans, or a half-cup of tofu meets about 7 percent of your ALA needs for the day.

Although ALA is definitely a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, it can’t quite touch the benefits of fish, Moore says. Still, it can be part of the mix. She also recommends considering an omega-3 supplement, though research on the effectiveness of omega-3 in supplement form has been mixed.

Should You Take an Omega-3 Supplement?

Grocery store shelves are now lined with products fortified with omega-3 fatty acids. And the list of foods that fill this bill is growing longer every day. Some of the current offerings include milk, yogurt, juice, pasta, salad dressings, and margarine spreads. “Although every little bit helps, know that the amounts of DHA/EPA you get in these ‘fortified’ foods is typically dramatically less than you get in foods that provide them naturally like oily fish,” Kulze says. “In other words, you’ll often find 100 milligrams in some fortified milks vs. 2,000 milligrams in a 2-ounce serving of salmon.”

Supplements can also help you reach your daily goals, but they have been found to be less effective than food sources of omega-3s. Over the course of 20 randomized trials, supplements failed to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, an analysis recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. If you are going to choose supplements, be a label reader to get the most effective formula, experts advise. “DHA supplements are available that are derived from algae,” says David Perlmutter, MD, a neurologist and fellow of the American College of Nutrition. “These are a great choice, as there’s no fishy taste or the risk for contamination that may be found in some fish oils.”

TELL US: What’s your favorite way to get your omega-3s?

Update: A couple of our readers responded with some great suggestions for other Omega-3 sources. Chia seeds, the edible wonder seed that was originally made famous by Chia Pets, is very rich in Omega-3s. Try eating them sprinkled over cereal or yogurt, or add them to flour for baking. Additionally, the algea Spirulina is a dense source of Omega-3s, and the powder can be added to water or juices.

What are the best sources of omega-3?

8. Seaweed and algae

Share on PinterestSeaweed is a nutrient-dense food.

Seaweed, nori, spirulina, and chlorella are different forms of algae that many people eat for their health benefits.

Seaweed and algae are important sources of omega-3 for people on a vegetarian or vegan diet, as they are one of the few plant groups that contain DHA and EPA.

The DHA and EPA content varies depending on the type of algae and the particular product.

There are many ways to include these foods in the diet. For example:

  • Nori is the seaweed that most people use to wrap around sushi.
  • Seaweed is a tasty, crispy snack.
  • Chlorella and spirulina make a healthful addition to smoothies or oatmeal.

Seaweed is also rich in protein, and it may have antidiabetic, antioxidant, and antihypertensive properties.

People can find chlorella and spirulina in health-food stores or online. Shop here for chlorella and spirulina.

9. Chia seeds

Chia seeds are an excellent plant-based source of ALA omega-3 fatty acids. They are also high in fiber and protein.

Chia seeds contain 5.055 g of ALA per 1-oz serving.

People can use these seeds as an ingredient in granola, salads, or smoothies, or they can mix them with milk or yogurt to make chia pudding. Mixing chia seeds with water also creates an egg substitute that vegans can use.

Many health-food stores now stock chia seeds, and it is also possible to buy them online.

10. Hemp seeds

Hemp seeds contain 2.605 g of ALA in every 3 tablespoons (tbsp).

They are also rich in many nutrients, including:

  • protein
  • magnesium
  • iron
  • zinc

Research suggests that hemp seeds are good for a person’s heart, digestion, and skin.

Hemp seeds are slightly sweet and make an excellent addition to granola, oats, snack bars, salads, and smoothies.

Hemp seeds are available to buy online.

11. Flaxseeds

Flaxseeds contain 6.703 g of ALA per tbsp.

Flaxseeds are one of the most healthful seeds that people can eat. They are rich in many nutrients, including:

  • fiber
  • protein
  • magnesium
  • manganese

These seeds may reduce blood pressure and improve heart health.

As with chia seeds, people can mix flaxseeds with water to create a vegan egg replacement. It is also easy to incorporate them into the diet by adding them to oatmeal, cereal, or salad.

Flaxseeds are available to buy online.

12. Walnuts

Walnuts contain 3.346 g of ALA per cup.

These nuts are a great source of healthful fats, including ALA omega-3 fatty acids.

People can enjoy walnuts on their own, in granola, or in a trail mix, snack bar, yogurt, salad, or cooked dish.

13. Edamame

A half-cup of frozen edamame beans contains 0.28 g of ALA.

Edamame beans are immature soybeans that are particularly popular in Japan. They are not only rich in omega-3s but are a great source of plant-based protein.

Boiled or steamed edamame beans work well in a salad or as a side dish.

14. Kidney beans

Kidney beans contain 0.10 g of ALA per half-cup.

Kidney beans are one of the most common beans to include in meals or eat as a side dish. People can add them to curries or stews or eat them with rice.

15. Soybean oil

Soybean oil contains 0.923 g of ALA per tbsp.

Soybeans are popular legumes from Asia. Many people use soybean oil for cooking.

The oil is also a good source of:

  • riboflavin
  • magnesium
  • potassium
  • folate
  • vitamin K

People usually serve soybeans as part of a meal or in a salad. Soybean oil works well as a cooking oil and in salad dressings.

Evolving Wellness

Question

If I eat a diet without any fish or seafood, like a vegan or a plant-based diet, where can I get omega-3 fatty acids? Do I have to take supplements? I want to transition my family in a smart way without any deficiencies.

Fiona

Answer

In order to feel confident about your choices, it is important first to understand the role of omega-3 fatty acids, and why they get the attention they do in the health and medical communities. For the most part, omega-3 fatty acids are essential for optimal health of our nervous system, including the brain and our cardiovascular system, including the heart. They are often associated with being heart-healthy fats and reducing the risk of heart disease. For example, people with high triglyceride levels are often told to eat more omega-3 fatty acids. However, these fatty acids have also been associated with improving other areas of our health and reducing the risk of other diseases that are associated with levels of inflammation in the body. So while people often focus on getting omega-3 fats for these benefits, the truth is that if and when a diet is based on whole plant foods, it is by its very nature the most healing and protective against inflammation and all diseases. This is especially true for chronic lifestyle diseases, like heart disease, diabetes type 2, and cancer. Such a diet is already likely to be full of the right foods that provide omega-3 fatty acids and low or devoid in foods that cause inflammation and disease, namely animal foods, processed foods, and oils. Do keep in mind that this is not equivalent to a vegan diet, which can be low in whole plant foods and full of processed plant foods, which are inflammatory and can be deficient in many nutrients.

The next important thing to consider is what omega-3 fatty acids we are talking about, as there are several. Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are the key omega-3 fatty acids. Out of these, many whole plant foods, which I will address in a moment, contain ALA, which our body converts to make EPA and DHA under proper conditions. These conditions include, but are not limited to, having a diet low in omega-6 fatty acids, which can produce inflammation in the body when in excess, and compete with the products of this conversion, leaving people with insufficient EPA and DHA. These latter two fatty acids are associated with fish and other seafood, as well as algae, which is where the fish get their omega-3 fatty acids from. However, the high risks of eating any fish and seafood today, which are not only related to toxicity, pollution, and heavy metal concerns but high fat and high protein concerns, as well as environmental and sustainability concerns, negate many of the benefits we think we get from fish. It is a much wiser and more prudent choice for optimal health to focus on whole plant foods and algae instead. In fact, when we do, it is rare to have to ever consider a supplemental omega-3 fatty acid from algae, aside perhaps during pregnancy and lactation. Fish oils should be avoided altogether.

Finally, it is important to keep in mind the omega-3 to omega-6 ratio in our diet for the best and most effective results. Diets for optimal health, healing, and prevention should have the natural evolutionary ratio of 1 part omega-3 fatty acids to 1 part omega-6 fatty acids. However, today most experts recommend getting much more of the omega-3 and eat three to four times as much omega-3 than omega-6, due to our poor modern diets and unnatural lifestyles. In practical terms, this means that we focus on eating some whole plant foods rich in omega-3 fats each day and avoid oils and foods made with or cooked with oils, which are all high in omega-6. Notice in the image below that each oil, aside from flax oil, contains a much higher amount of omega-6 fats than omega-3 fats, if any. This is why flax seeds, but in their whole or ground form, not oil, are one of the top omega-3 rich sources in a whole food plant-based diet.

To learn more about the significance of this omega-3 and omega-6 ratio, as well as the omega-3 conversion from ALA to EPA to DHA in the human body, please refer to my article A Holistic Guide to ALA, EPA and DHA Fats for Healthy Eating.

Unfortunately, too many people and medical experts alike, believe that fish and seafood are beneficial, if not necessary part, of a healthy diet. However, as shared above, these are some of the riskiest foods today. It makes no sense to put something into your body that carries with it serious health risks when you could have benefitted your health in a much safer and more effective way. What we must focus on, if we want to prevent inflammation and our risk of chronic disease, is the overall quality of our diet, and base it as much as possible on whole plant foods. People don’t suffer from a deficiency of fish in the diet but a deficiency of protective and healing nutrients that only whole plant foods can provide.

Here are the top whole plant sources of ALA omega-3 fatty acids to have in your diet and consume on a regular basis. This means that you are eating several of them each day, and at least one of the top three as follows:

  • Flax seeds
  • Chia seeds
  • Hemp seeds
  • Walnuts
  • Cultivated leafy greens, like kale, collards, spinach, etc.
  • Wild leafy greens, like dandelion, purslane, safe ferns and mosses, etc.
  • Winter squashes, like butternut, buttercup, acorn, etc.
  • Organic soybeans, like edamame, tempeh, and tofu
  • Olives
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Cauliflower
  • Avocado

Do keep in mind that extracts and isolates of any of the above foods, which usually come in the form of oil do not have the same health and nutrition benefits as their whole food counterparts, and are thus not recommended. There is a reason why nature provides us with a specific and unique whole food package of nutrients as these are all required to work together to provide us with the full spectrum of healing and protection.

Therefore to transition to a whole food, plant-based diet in a smart, sustainable, and effective way, and avoid any deficiencies be sure to focus on eating a large number of fruits and vegetables each day, along with a good variety of whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds. These are the most nutrient-dense foods that offer us a wide variety and high concentration of all vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients, aside from vitamin B12 and the hormone known as vitamin D. They are naturally anti-inflammatory and provide healthy carbohydrates, healthy protein, and healthy fats, including the essential fatty acid ALA. And always keep in mind that optimal health is most influenced by the overall quality of our diet and not any one food or supplement. The foundation of our health rests in our overall lifestyle, which includes our food, but also much more.

Omega 3 fats

Omega 3 fats are a group of unsaturated fats that we need to stay healthy – especially for heart health. Eating foods high in omega 3’s could help to prevent heart attacks and strokes.

There are different types of omega 3’s which are found in different foods. The main ones are:

  • ALA (alpha linolenic acid)

    ALA is essential for good health, but our bodies can’t make it, so we need to get it from the foods we eat. It’s mainly found in vegetable oils, nuts and seeds.

  • EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid)

    We need these types of omega 3 fats for a healthy heart and blood circulation. Our bodies can make some of these fats from the ALA in the food we eat, but only a small amount. So, it’s good to eat foods that already contain them.

Oily fish, such as sardines, salmon and mackerel are the best source of EPA and DHA. White fish and shell fish contain some omega 3s, but in smaller amounts.

Why are Omega 3 fats good for health?

There has been lots of research into Omega 3 fats and oily fish and how they can improve heart health.

In countries where people eat more oily fish, such as in the Mediterranean, Greenland and Japan, fewer people have heart disease compared to countries where people eat very little oily fish, such as the UK.

The Omega 3 fats EPA and DHA can help protect the heart and blood vessels from disease: They can help:

  • lower triglycerides (a fat that enters our blood after a meal)
  • improve circulation (blood flow around the body)
  • prevent blood clots
  • lower blood pressure
  • keep the rhythm of your heart steady.

In the past, higher levels of the Omega 3 fats EPA and DHA in the blood have also been linked with a lower risk of dying from cardiovascular disease. There is still research on-going, but doctors think that the benefits come from eating foods that contain omega 3s rather than supplements.

Read more about Omega 3s and other fats and how to eat them in healthy amounts.

Which foods contain omega 3s?

Oily fish

Oily fish is the best source of Omega 3 fats. Aim to eat two portions of fish per week. At least one of which should be oily. A portion is 140g, but you could have two or three smaller portions throughout the week.

All oily fish contain omega 3 fats. You can choose from fresh, canned or frozen fish, except for tuna which needs to be fresh or frozen. The following are all good options:

  • Anchovies
  • Bloater
  • Carp
  • Eel
  • Herring (kippers)
  • Mackerel
  • Pilchards
  • Salmon
  • Sardines
  • Sprats
  • Swordfish
  • Trout
  • Whitebait.

Eating oily fish not only means you’ll be getting enough Omega 3 fats. They’re good for you in other ways too. They’re a source of vitamins A and D and the B vitamins, and minerals including calcium (from the small bones), iodine, zinc, iron and selenium. These are nutrients that many of us don’t eat enough of.

Read more about the benefits of oily fish in our factsheet.

How much is too much?

Some fish contain small amounts of chemicals or metals that may be harmful if you eat a lot of fish. In general, it’s safe to have four portions of oily fish per week.

Shark, marlin and swordfish can contain mercury. Eat no more than one portion of these per week.

If you are a pregnant, planning to get pregnant, or breast feeding, you should eat no more than two portions of oily fish per week. Avoid shark, marlin and swordfish altogether.

Plant foods which contain Omega 3s

A number of plant foods are high in the omega 3 fat, ALA. Try to eat more of these, especially if you don’t normally eat fish or if you are vegetarian.

The plant foods which are high in omega 3s are:

  • some oils including flax (also known as flaxseed oil and linseed oil), walnut, soya, pumpkin, krill and algal oil
  • green leafy vegetables
  • nuts, especially walnuts, pecans and hazelnuts
  • seeds, especially flax (linseed), pumpkin, chia and hemp seeds
  • soya beans and soya products such as tofu.

Foods which are fortified with Omega 3s

Some foods have omega 3 fats added to them. These include:

  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Yogurt
  • Bread
  • Some fat spreads.

Check the label for the amount and kind of omega 3. Foods are often fortified with ALA rather than EPA or DHA. It’s EPA and DHA that’s most important for heart health.

What about supplements?

Here at HEART UK we don’t recommend supplements of Omega 3s. It’s always best to get your nutrients from foods rather than supplements.

That’s because foods contain a whole range of different nutrients which improve your health in different ways. But supplements only contain specific nutrients.

If you choose to top up on Omega 3s by using supplements, follow these golden rules.

  • Choose a fish oil or an Omega 3 supplement.
  • Don’t choose fish liver oils, they contain less Omega 3 than fish oils and too much vitamin A.
  • Go for a supplement with lower levels of vitamin A – less than 1mg per day (which might be written as 1000ug or 1000mcg).
  • If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, avoid supplements that contain vitamin A (sometimes written as retinol) altogether. Beta carotene (a form of vitamin A is safe for pregnant women).
  • Aim to get 500mg of EPA and DHA combined each day, this works out as around the same as a 140g portion of oily fish per week.
  • If you take medicines to thin your blood, such as aspirin, warfarin or heparin, speak to your doctor before taking fish oil supplements – they can also thin your blood.
  • If you are vegan or vegetarian, you can take marine oils made from algae.

Boost your heart health

Nevertheless, producing more omega-3 fatty acids should not add further pressure on the biodiversity of wild fish stocks, which historically have been the sole source of this vital nutrient. To address this challenge, we developed life’s™OMEGA, a vegetarian alternative to fish oil, that keeps consumers healthy (SDG 3) while also helping to safeguard fragile marine ecosystems (SDG 14). Sourced from algae, this innovative product is the first of its kind to offer both EPA and DHA in a vegetarian capsule. The use of algae, the primary source of food for animals at the bottom of the marine food chain, offers a sustainable, renewable solution to omega-3 delivery.

With less than 1% of the current global supply currently derived from non-fish sources, the fish-free omega-3 market segment is in its infancy. Through our various partnerships around the world, DSM is taking a lead role in advancing this exciting growth opportunity. In fact, life’s™OMEGA is now widely available to consumers online as well as in supermarkets and pharmacies worldwide. In this way, we are taking a lead role in driving sustainable, animal-friendly nutritional solutions, proving that the battle for human health does not have to cost the earth.

Your top sources of fish-free omega-3 explained

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for our health, with the most common source from fish oils. But what are your options as a vegan or vegetarian?

Omega-3 plays a role in a broad range of cellular and bodily functions – they’re called essential fatty acids for a reason! However, if you follow a plant-based diet, or simply don’t enjoy eating oily fish, it’s important to know where you can find your best sources of omega-3.

What is omega-3?

Omega-3 fatty acids are a group of polyunsaturated fats that fight inflammation and help keep our hearts, brains, guts, joints and eyes healthy. They’re essential to human health, but the body can’t make them itself so it has to rely on attaining sufficient amounts from dietary sources.

Handpicked content: A guide to natural anti-inflammatory sources

Plant omega-3 vs animal omega-3

Omega-3 comes in several different forms, including both animal and plant-based sources. As each one has a slightly different structure, omega-3 will be broken down differently in the body depending on the source.

The three main types of omega-3 utilised by the human body include EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and ALA (alpha-linolenic acid). Both EPA and DHA have been found to support the body in a number of ways including contributing to joint, heart and eye health. Furthermore, DHA has been highlighted for its role in foetal and infant brain development, while ALA may support the maintenance of healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

Nuts and seeds, especially walnuts, flaxseeds and chia seeds are rich in ALA, while algae such as spirulina and chlorella contain EPA and DHA.

Although our bodies convert ALA naturally, the process isn’t very efficient. Various studies suggest that most people convert less than 10-20% of the ALA they eat into EPA or DHA. Consuming too much omega-6 from vegetable oils or having deficiencies in certain nutrients such as zinc, can also hinder the conversion process.

Algae: the original source of omega-3

Seed oils are reasonably good at raising EPA, but not DHA. The good news is the DHA found in oily fish comes from algae eaten by the fish, so why not go straight to the source?

A 2014 review concluded that algae oil supplements led to ‘significant increases’ in blood DHA. Meanwhile, another study found that algae oil was even better than krill oil at raising levels of EPA. So seaweed could be the solution to upping your omega-3 levels, whether you’re vegan or not.

Flaxseed and heart health

Flaxseed is one of the best sources of ALA. A daily dose of ALA from flaxseeds has been found to reduce inflammation in the blood, while some studies suggest that flaxseed oil could support the maintenance of healthy blood pressure.

Handpicked content: Supercharge your day with flaxseed

The benefits of chia seeds

Chia seeds are another good source of ALA. American researchers discovered that eating ground chia seeds every day for seven weeks increased levels of EPA in the blood by 30%. In another trial published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, eating bread baked with chia seeds helped to reduce blood sugar levels.

About echium seed oil

Echium seed oil is unusual because it contains high levels of GLA (gamma-linolenic acid) and SDA (stearidonic acid), as well as ALA. GLA is an omega-6 fatty acid with anti-inflammatory properties. It works with omega-3 to balance the inflammatory effects of other omega-6s, mainly found in vegetable oils, that we eat.

SDA is another omega-3 fatty acid. Before ALA can be converted into EPA or DHA, it has to be converted into SDA. However, SDA doesn’t need to be converted, so echium seed oil is better than flaxseed oil at boosting levels of EPA in the body. This makes it great alternative to fish oil for vegetarians or vegans.

Echium seed oil also contains an omega-9 acid called oleic acid (not found in fish oil), which may help lower ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol, and improve insulin sensitivity and circulation.

Advice is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please consult a doctor or healthcare professional before trying any remedies.

Shop our Vitamins & Supplements range.

Sources

Vegetarian Omega 3

Omega 3 is one of the families of healthy fats called essential fatty acids (EFA). Omega 3 are called ‰”essential‰” because the body cannot produce them, so we must acquire them from our diet or gain them through supplements. The active omega 3 compounds are DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid). DHA is the most abundant unsaturated fatty acid in the human brain, it is highly concentrated in the retina of the eye, and is critical for the structure and function of cell membranes. EPA performs different functions; it helps reduce inflammation and is a factor in cardiovascular health. The body can convert DHA to EPA as needed but the reverse is not true, making DHA the more valuable of the two active omega 3 compounds. The primary dietary source of DHA is fatty fish or to a lesser extent, fortified foods. Eating fish several times per week or taking fish oil in gelatin capsules or liquid can be challenging.

Sisu’s high-potency Vegetarian Omega 3 from algae is a convenient source providing consistent amounts of omega 3, and is ideal for people who follow a vegan diet.

Product Highlights

  • 200 mg of DHA from GMO-free algae sustainably grown in dedicated, inland farms with no impact on any marine environment
  • DHA supports brain and eye development in utero and in children
  • DHA supplementation has been associated with a decreased risk of post-partum depression
  • When taken by breast-feeding women, DHA crosses into breast milk to increase infants’ DHA levels
  • Plays a key role in reducing inflammation associated with auto-immune disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis
  • DHA helps support neurological health at all ages
  • Omega 3 effectively lowers elevated triglyceride levels associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease
  • Ideal for people with sensitive systems who cannot take fish oil because of fishy burps

The question: I’m a vegetarian. How can I get omega-3s in my diet without eating fish?

The answer: As a vegetarian, you’ll want to ensure you meet your daily requirements for alpha linolenic acid, or ALA, a plant-based omega-3 fatty acid. It’s plentiful in flaxseeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, walnuts, soybeans and soy products. The other two omega-3 fatty acids – eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) – are found in oily fish and fish oil supplements. Even if you don’t eat fish, however, you can still get DHA in your diet.

The three types of omega-3 fatty acids are metabolized differently in the body and, as a result, can have different effects in cells. Studies have found that higher intakes and higher blood levels of DHA and EPA helps protect from heart disease, heart attack, Type-2 diabetes, macular degeneration, arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, depression and possibly some types of cancers. It’s DHA that has the most potent health benefits in the body, particularly in the brain.

Story continues below advertisement

ALA has health benefits too. There’s some evidence that higher intakes of ALA guard against heart disease and stroke, although the data isn’t as compelling as that for DHA and EPA. Research also suggests consuming more ALA lowers the risk of Type-2 diabetes. It’s thought that ALA, more so than DHA and EPA, helps improve how the body uses insulin, the hormone that clears sugar from the blood stream.

Once consumed, ALA is converted to EPA, which is then converted to DHA. Unfortunately, our bodies are unable to convert very much ALA to EPA and DHA. In order to maximize this conversion, you need to include good sources of ALA in you diet everyday.

Provided you’re getting enough ALA every day, your body will be able to convert more ALA to EPA. However, research suggests that supplementing your diet with ALA doesn’t increase the level of DHA in the blood. And remember, it’s DHA that’s so important for the proper functioning of your brain as an adult.

For this reason, I advise vegetarians to get a direct source of DHA from a supplement made from algae. Take 200 to 400 mg of algae-based DHA per day. Fish are actually the middlemen when it comes to delivering DHA. They get their DHA by eating microscopic algae, which produce it.

Leslie Beck, a registered dietitian, is based at the Medisys clinic in Toronto. She can be seen every Thursday at noon on CTV News Channel’s Direct; lesliebeck.com.

Are There Vegan Friendly DHA and EPA Supplements?

Question:
I’m a vegan but my doctor wants me to take fish oil with EPA and DHA. Is there something I can take that would be as good as fish oil capsules but would satisfy the needs of a vegan?
Answer:
You can get the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA from the same place that fish get theirs — algae. Because algae is lower on the food chain than fish, omega-3’s from algal oils are naturally less contaminated than oils from fish (although fish oil in supplements is purified, removing most of these contaminants, as shown by tests by ConsumerLab.com).
Another advantage of algal oil over fish oil is that the EPA and DHA are in the triglyceride form — which may be somewhat better absorbed than the ethyl ester form found in many fish oil supplements In fact, an increasing percentage of fish oils are now sold in the triglyceride form, possibly for this reason.
However, algal oil is typically more expensive that fish oil and, based on tests by ConsumerLab.com, algal oil supplements do not contain the omega-7 fatty acids found naturally in fish oil, which, preliminary research suggests, may help reduce inflammation and improve cholesterol levels. (Be aware that highly concentrated fish oils also tend to have very little omega-7, as it is removed during processing in order to increase the concentrations of EPA and DHA).
Flaxseed oil, echium oil and chia seeds are sometimes promoted as alternative sources of omega-3 fatty acids. However, be aware that they do not contain EPA and DHA. Rather, they contain a different omega-3 fatty acid — alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). While ALA has some benefits, they are not the same as those for EPA and DHA and the body can convert only a very small percentage ALA into EPA and DHA. More details about these and other seed-based sources of fatty acids are found in our Product Review of Flaxseed Oil, Evening Primrose Oil, Borage Oil, and Black Currant Oil Supplements: Sources of ALA and GLA (Omega-3 and -6 Fatty Acids).
The bottom line: You can certainly get EPA and DHA from algal oil — it will just cost you a bit more than from most fish oils. Other alternatives, such as flaxseed oil, echium oil and chia seeds provide the omega-3 ALA, but do not provide the EPA and DHA found in fish and algal oil.
You can see ConsumerLab.com’s test results for algal oil supplements in the Vegetarian Source (Algal) Oil section of the Fish Oil/Omega-3 Supplements Review >>

Also see answers to these questions:

I’ve tried a number of fish oil supplements, all of which make me nauseous. What is the best non-fish alternative? I am primarily interested in getting EPA. >>
I drink organic milk with added DHA Omega-3, but it is expensive. Is it worth paying extra for the added DHA? >>
Is it true that there is no point in taking fish oil supplements for heart health? >>
Is echium oil a good alternative to fish oil? I am allergic to fish. >>
Are plant-based calcium supplements, like AlgaeCal, better than regular calcium supplements? >>
See other recent and popular questions >>
Share your thoughts and comments about this topic in the space below. Please abide by the following rules:

  • If you make a statement of fact, such as whether a type of treatment does or does not work, state your basis — such as personal experience or a published study.
  • If you make a positive or negative comment about a product, note whether or not you have a financial interest in the product or in a competing product.
  • Please be respectful in your tone.
  • Please do not submit any type of HTML markup or scripting as it will not be accepted, nor will comments that exceed 2,500 characters.

For your privacy, only your first name (from your account) followed by a random number will appear with your comment. Your last name and email address will not be displayed. Comment:
Share your thoughts and comments about this topic in the space below. Please abide by the following rules:

  • If you make a statement of fact, such as whether a type of treatment does or does not work, state your basis — such as personal experience or a published study.
  • If you make a positive or negative comment about a product, note whether or not you have a financial interest in the product or in a competing product.
  • Please be respectful in your tone.
  • Please do not submit any type of HTML markup or scripting as it will not be accepted, nor will comments that exceed 2,500 characters.

For your privacy, only your first name (from your account) followed by a random number will appear with your comment. Your last name and email address will not be displayed. Comment:
You can modify your comment below. Please be aware the comment will have to approve the changes before they will be shown: Comment:
Your edit has been submitted and is being reviewed by ConsumerLab.com prior to publication. This CL Answer initially posted on 3/2/2017. Last updated 7/25/2017. ConsumerLab.com members may submit questions to [email protected] We read all questions and try to answer those of popular interest.

8 Incredible Omega 3 Rich Foods: More Than Just Fish

Omega-3 fats are commonly known for their health benefiting properties. The fact is that fats, though shunned upon, are required for the body to carry out various vital functions. Many nutrients are fat soluble, without which the body can’t avail their benefits. The human body is capable of synthesising most fats, but not in the case of omega-3 fatty acids. These essential fatty acids can be obtained daily only through our diet. Omega-3 fatty acids fall under the category of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) and the three main types include DHA, EPA and ALA. Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) can be obtained directly from maternal milk (breast milk), fish or algae oil. Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA or also called icosapentaenoic acid) can be obtained by eating oily fish or fish oil, for example, cod liver, herring, mackerel, salmon, menhaden and sardine, and various types of edible seaweed and phytoplankton. Alpha-Linolenic acid (ALA), on the other hand, are found only in plant-based sources such as chia seeds, flaxseed, nuts (especially walnuts) and many common vegetable oils.
In simple words, Omega 3 fats play a crucial role in the growth and proper functioning of the human body. A lo of people consume omega 3 supplements to fulfill its need in the body. But, if you include foods that are rich in omega 3, you don’t need to buy expensive supplements.

Here is a list of foods that are rich in omega 3 fats that you can add to your daily diet:

1. Soybeans (Roasted)

Not many people know that this plant source is quite rich in Omega-3 fats. Soybeans have ALA, which promotes heart health. In fact, having one bowl of lightly cooked soybeans contains more omega-3 fats than some cold water fish!“

2. Walnuts
Add walnuts in your favourite baked dishes, sprinkle it on salads and cereals or have it as it is, walnuts are great in all manner. This nut not only provides you with multiple vascular benefits but also helps you to maintain your ideal weight over time.

3. Salmon
It’s not only rich in Vitamin D but also a great source of Omega 3 fatty acids, protein and phosphorous. Salmon contains high levels of the omega-3 fats – EPA and DHA. These fats provide a number of cardiovascular ease such as reducing inflammation. Intake of salmon twice or thrice per week can lower the risk of heart attack, high blood pressure, arrhythmia and embolism.

4. Canola Oil
It is touted to be the healthiest salad and cooking oil. It’s cheaper than olive oil and can withstand high cooking temperatures. Due to its low saturated fat content it is said to be beneficial for our health.

5. Sardines
They are tiny and oily, and less expensive than other types of fish. Higher in sodium, they can balance out your meal with low sodium fruits and vegetables. They are usually eaten out of a tin/jar as a snack or you can add them to sandwiches, salads or pizzas. They’d still taste great and provide your body a handful of comfort.

6. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are not only rich in omega 3 but also vitamins, minerals and dietary fibers. Loaded with calcium, protein and magnesium, these seeds lower the risk of type 2 diabetes, improve exercise performance and also provides health benefits to the brain.

7. Mackerel
These small and oily fish are not only delicious in taste but also incredibly healthy. Apart from being rich in omega 3, this fish has a great content of nutrients and vitamins B6 and B12.

8. Flaxseeds
Being the richest source of Omega 3 fats, flaxseeds are considered to be a superfood. Often ground or used to make oil, these small seeds help in fighting cancer, reducing sugar cravings and promoting weight loss.
Make sure you add the above mentioned omega 3 rich foods to your diet for a healthy life ahead.

Disclaimer:

The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. NDTV is not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information on this article. All information is provided on an as-is basis. The information, facts or opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of NDTV and NDTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.

About the author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *