Food & Diet
Best Plant Sources of Omega-3s
Omega-3 fatty acids are among the essential acids necessary for the brain to function and stay healthy. These acids also act anti-inflammatory, so making sure you include them into your daily nutrition is very important, since the body cannot produce them itself.
One of the three types of omega-3 fatty acids is found in plants and is called ALA, or alpha-linolenic acid.
This is an excellent thing considering that not everyone likes eating fish that contain the other two types of this acid. So, vegans also have the opportunity to take these essential acids in. There are several foods that are good sources and you should try to incorporate them into your meals. They are tasty, especially in combinations with other foods.
1. Flax seeds
Flax seeds are often also called a superfood because they provide many health benefits. They are packed with fiber which helps you stay regular and with vitamins, minerals and phytosterols, besides having high levels of alpha-linolenic acid. You can consume it in the form of seeds (snack on them or combine them with other foods such as bread or cereal), milled seeds or oil.
2. Chia seeds
Another superfood that many nutritionists recommend. They are rich in healthy fats and contain good amounts of the alpha-linolenic acid which protects the heart from disease, as Dr. Donald B. Jump, a researcher from the Linus Pauling Institute explains. These seeds can be added to your morning cereal or salads, and besides being very healthy they are also delicious as an addition to any meal.
This is one of the more common food choices among vegans. Edamame are actually young soy beans left in their shell, boiled and eaten cold. They are packed with this omega-3 acid, but are also rich in protein, as well as vitamins and minerals. Edamame has high fiber content, so it is a great food to aid digestion. It can be an addition to any meal, or eaten as a snack.
Walnuts are really delicious, and they are often eaten as a snack or a part of many pastries, cakes and cookies. They are nutritious and have good amounts of protein, minerals and vitamins. They are also rich in alpha-linolenic acid which helps the heart and the brain stay healthy. You can use walnuts in many food combinations. You can even fry chicken breast using ground walnuts instead of regular white flour. They are also an excellent addition to cereals, salads and many sweet treats.
5. Pumpkin seeds
Pumpkin seeds, one of our favorite snacks, are also very nutritious. They are actually an excellent replacement for junk food – they are equally satisfying but not harmful for your waistline nor for your health.
In fact, these seeds are rich in magnesium and calcium – nutrients which are extremely important for maintaining the body’s proper function. Pumpkin seeds also have good levels of protein and fiber, and as the icing on the cake, they also have good amounts of ALA. For the health benefits they provide, these seeds are very easily found and their price is affordable for anyone.
6. Navy beans
Navy beans are among the favorite foods of many Americans, as well as people worldwide. They are nutritious and help you feel full for a long time. If you are avoiding dairy products, these beans are also good for you because they are rich in calcium, so you won’t have calcium deficiency if you incorporate them into your diet. The high levels of fiber and manganese help your stomach work properly, and of course, they are rich in omega-3 fatty acids called alpha-linolenic acid.