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Plant-based sources of omega 3

Omega 3 is an essential fatty acid, that is, humans need it but their bodies can’t make it. Omega 3 is important for heart, brain and joint health, among other benefits. Vegetarian (including vegan) diets are usually high in Omega 6, and it is the ratio of Omega 3:6 that is particularly important.

Good plant-based sources of Omega 3 are linseed (flaxseed), chia seeds, walnuts and hemp seeds but it is also found in edamame, beans and green leafy vegetables. You can also buy vegetarian Omega 3 oil and supplements. (Most Omega 3 supplements contain fish and krill oil, so take care when choosing. Choosing a plant-based product also avoids the issue of heavy metal contamination sometimes found in fish-based products, and ocean depletion from taking food sources from other marine animals such as whales.)

Grind up flax and chia seeds before consuming them to help digestion. Use a coffee grinder or blender to grind them and store the ground up flax in the fridge.

Aim for 2 tablespoons a day – sprinkle it in your muesli, toast or soup. Add them to your smoothie or try chia puddings.

Did you know?

Both chia seeds and flaxseed make a great egg substitute.

  • To make a flax egg, mix one tablespoon ground flaxseed meal with three tablespoons of water. Mix together, and let sit in your fridge for 15 minutes to set up and thicken.
  • To make a chia egg mix one part chia seeds and nine parts water and let it sit.

*Note: Chia seeds & flaxseed provides plenty of short-chain fatty acid ALA (alpha-linoleic acid). From ALA, our bodies can form long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA.
However, some studies show that (as we age) our bodies are rather inefficient in converting ALA to long chain fatty acids, EPA + DHA. Therefore, some health professionals recommend that we supplement with EPA + DHA. There are many plant-based EPA+DHA supplements available made from algae.

Greger, M. (2016). Should Vegans Take DHA to Preserve Brain Function? Video file, FACLM September 30th, 2016 Volume 32. Available at: Nutritionfacts.org