Do you live a vegan life or do you pay attention to healthy food? Then you must have heard of the famous unsaturated fatty acids. Omega-3 belongs to this group. They are considered to be particularly healthy and are one of the reasons why most nutrition experts recommend eating fish several times a week.
But wait a minute… fish? Is there no vegan alternative?
Don’t worry, omega-3 is also available in vegetable form. Nevertheless, there is a little catch with fish – excuse the pun – because if your diet doesn’t contain fish, you have to make sure that you eat vegan food with enough omega-3 fatty acids. This makes it all the more important to pay attention to food supplements, as many omega-3 capsules contain fish oil, which, as the name suggests, comes from fish.
There is a reason why you should pay attention to a sufficient intake of fatty acids. Our body simply cannot function without them. Omega-3 fats belong to the group of unsaturated fatty acids alongside omega-6 and omega-9 fatty acids. We need them in our organism above all for the normal functioning of certain cells, our blood circulation and vessels.
There are three representatives of omega-3 fatty acids, which are particularly important because our body cannot produce them on its own, or only to a limited extent:
- Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)
- docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
- Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
We have a few tips for you, so that you can get enough of it even with a vegan lifestyle.
This way you get enough omega-3 fatty acids even with a vegan diet
With a vegan diet, you have two options for meeting your omega-3 fatty acid needs: vegetable omega-3 sources and dietary supplements.
If you plan your diet carefully, it is easy to get enough unsaturated fatty acids only through food. However, if you do not want to worry about this or if you want to treat a specific omega-3 deficiency, taking omega-3 capsules may be the better alternative for you.
Omega-3 through vegan food
Above all, make sure that your diet contains sufficient alpha-linolenic acid. Our body cannot produce them on its own.
Popular plant sources for this are for example hemp seeds, flax seeds or walnuts. According to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), you need about one tablespoon of ground flax seed, two tablespoons of hemp seed or six walnuts to cover your daily requirement of ALA.
Omega-3 through vegan food supplement
Vegan omega-3 supplements usually contain oil from particularly nutrient-rich microalgae. If you eat a plant-based diet, you often consume very little of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. With the regular intake of such algae oil capsules you can supplement your diet with the valuable omega-3 nutrients. The EFSA recommends about 250 milligrams of the substances per day.
Tip for vegans: Do not only pay attention to the ingredients of the food supplement capsules, but also find out about the composition of the capsule itself. Often these contain animal substances that are naturally not at all beneficial to a vegan lifestyle.
It’s the balance that counts!
As so often in life, balance is also crucial in the supply of omega fatty acids – and in several respects:
- Our body can produce the fatty acids EPA and DHA from alpha-linolenic acid, but only with limited efficiency. So make sure you take in enough of all the important omega-3 fatty acids.
- For your body to benefit from the nutrients, the ratio between omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids must be correct. It should be at least 5:1 (the more equivalent, the better). If you take in more omega-3 vegan, you will also need more omega-6.
These 5 vegetable foods are the best sources of omega-3 in a vegan diet
5th place: Brussels sprouts
Whether as a side dish or main course – Brussels sprouts are delicious. But not only that: the vegetables are also super healthy! It is rich in dietary fibre, vitamins C and K, and also contains a good portion of unsaturated fatty acids.
For example, 40 grams of Brussels sprouts contain about 40 milligrams of the most important omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid.
4th place: Walnuts
A nut consists of more than 60% fat. On the one hand, this makes them very high in calories, but on the other hand they are also a bomb of healthy energy. The fats contained are all healthy fats. Even a small portion (30g) of walnuts covers with more than 2500 milligrams already far more than the daily requirement of vegan omega-3 fatty acids.
And they are extremely versatile: for garnishing food, for baking or in salads. In contrast to sprouts, they are also much better suited as a healthy snack for in between meals.
3rd place: Hemp seeds
Hemp seeds are full of healthy omega-3 fatty acids. 30 grams contain about 6000 milligrams of ALA. Hemp seeds alone are of course a bit boring, but they make a great addition to all kinds of dishes. So try refining your cereal smoothie with healthy and vegan cannabis seeds.
2nd place: Linseed
If you are looking for vegan omega-3 sources, you have come to the right place with flax seeds. A particularly effective tip is the healthy linseed oil. It consists of more than 50% pure omega-3 fatty acids and can be used in salads, for cooking or for a delicious homemade spread. The oil tastes best when fresh. So if you reach for linseed oil in the shop, you should consume it within a few weeks, otherwise it becomes bitter.
1st place: Seaweed
Why of all things do seaweeds deserve our number one spot on the list? Don’t worry, we’re not recommending algae pizza or anything like that. Rather, they are very special micro layers through which we can absorb omega-3 vegan – the Schizochytrium species. You can take them in the form of effective oil capsules.
Fish have so much Omega-3 because they get it from their food (algae). So if we reach directly for these algae, we can skip the non-vegan part of this food chain.
A problem with vegan diets and omega-3 is that ALA can be obtained relatively well from plant foods such as nuts, but high levels of EPA and DHA are found almost exclusively in fish. The algae of the Schizochytrium species are an exception and are rich in all omega-3 fatty acids.
Vegan food supplements with Omega-3: Fish oil is not necessary
As you can see, you can stay healthy even without fish oil. A salad with linseed oil, a dish with cauliflower or a cereal with hemp seeds – there are plenty of foods with which you can take Omega-3 vegan.
If you want less stress when planning your meals, you can also get omega-3 fatty acids from food supplements.
Here again the most important tips summarized:
- Make sure you take in enough omega-6 fatty acids in addition to omega-3
- If you do not use dietary supplements, you should definitely include omega-3 vegan foods in your diet
- Capsules with algae oil are an excellent vegan alternative to fish oil or fats of edible fish
- Also with vegan food supplements, make sure that the capsules are not made from animal ingredients