Omega-3s and fish oil are thought to be the same thing. They are terms used interchangeably. Fortunately for plant-based eaters, omega-3 fatty acids don’t just come from sources of fish. Obtaining the brain-boosting and heart benefits of omega-3s is still possible on a plant-based lifestyle.
What Foods Are Omega-3 Fatty Acids In?
Omega-3s are an essential fatty acid. Unlike other essentials, it is not made naturally in the body. We have to procure it from food sources. When we have enough omega-3 content, this is maintenance for eye health, the kidneys, heart, brain, and skin. Here are some of the foods omega-3 fatty acids are in that aren’t fish.
- Walnuts – 2.6 g per ounce.
- Flaxseeds – 2.4 g per tbsp.
- Chia seeds – 5 g per ounce.
- Hemp seeds
- Edamame – 0.28 g per half cup.
You will also find slightly smaller amounts of omega-3s in many leafy green vegetables and beans.
The maximum dosage of omega-3s that is recommended is 4,500-5,000 mg. Some take higher amounts. Some take far lower, i.e. closer to 1,000 mg daily. Keep this range in mind when consuming natural foods as you may already be within where you need to be before even considering a supplement or changing your diet.
How Are Plant-Based Omega-3s Different From Fish-Based?
In plant-derived omega-3s, you have alpha-linoleic acid (ALA) which is the fatty acid in any source of omega-3s. ALA is converted in the body into DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid).
In fish, you have DHA and EPA present. This doesn’t mean a plant-based eater is in any way deficient, however. You can have omega-3 fats in the body without the consumption of fish-derived EPA and DHA. You do this through targeting the ALA taken from plant-based omega-3 sources.
Should I Take A Plant-Based Omega-3 Supplement?
A lot of plant-based eaters already get more than enough omega-3s through the foods mentioned above. That said, if you aren’t a regular consumer of those foods or simply want to ensure you have enough, a supplement or vitamin is a strong recommendation.
When you take an omega-3 supplement, you put something into your body that will reduce the risk of various cognitive diseases and brain conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease. Plant-based diets combined with a plant-derived omega-3 has also been shown to prevent – and in some cases, reverse – heart disease.
Needless to say, a plant-based eater is not missing anything from not consuming fish for their omega-3s. Although fish oil is promoted to help with symptoms of arthritis and help with heart disease, the power of fish oil comes from its omega-3s.