Omega-3 fatty acids play in important role in healthy brain function, and they may protect against heart disease, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Fish are a good source of two kinds of omega-3 fatty acids, but there is a third kind found in plants, known as alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA, for those who don’t eat fish. Your body can break down ALA into the same two types of omega-3s that are contained in fish oils, according to Oregon State University’s Linus Pauling Institute.
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Flax oil is the best plant source of omega-3 fatty acids, according to Oregon State University’s Linus Pauling Institute. One tbsp. of flaxseed oil contains 7.3g of ALA, while 1 tbsp. of ground flaxseeds contains 1.6g. Flaxseeds should be ground within 24 hours of use or they can be purchased already ground in special mylar packaging to make sure the ALA doesn’t degrade, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.
Nuts and Seeds
Walnuts are another good source of omega-3s, according to the Linus Pauling Institute. One oz. of English walnuts contains 2.6g of ALA, while the same amount of black walnuts contains 0.6g. Pumpkin seeds and hemp seeds are also good sources of omega-3 fatty acids. Hemp seeds should be hulled so your body can absorb the ALA, according to the Vegetarian Society.
A number of oils can provide omega-3 fatty acids, according to the Linus Pauling Institute. One tbsp. of canola oil provides 1.3g of ALA, while the same amount of soybean oil contains .9g of ALA. Other sources are mustard oil, walnut oil and perilla seed oil.
Soybeans and soybean products can provide some omega-3 fatty acids, according to the Linus Pauling Institute. A ½ cup of firm tofu provides .7g of ALA. If you eat eggs, you can purchase omega-3 enriched eggs. Some green vegetables provide a little ALA and can add to your daily intake, according to the Vegetarian Society. Broccoli, cabbage and purslane are good options. You can also try supplements. Most are made from fish oil, but there are also supplements available that are derived from algae and krill.