The recent release of the documentary Seaspiricy on Netflix has sparked a lot of conversation on the fishing industry and its effects on the environment. Many people consume fish because of its high amounts of healthy fats – essentially omega-3s, although those can also come with heavy metals like mercury, toxins and micro plastics sometimes found in fish. Although fish is probably the most widely known source of Omega-3s there are actually several plant based sources – you don’t have to rely on fish to get them.
Your body doesn’t produce omega-3s on its own, which means they’re “essential fatty acids” – you have to consume them. They’re important to your overall health and have been shown to:
One of the best sources of omega-3’s, flax is also high in fibre for good digestion and may help lower cholesterol. Add flaxseeds to your oatmeal, smoothie or use them as an egg replacer in plant based baked goods by combining 1 tablespoon of ground flax with 3 tablespoons of water and let sit for 5 minutes until combined. Always keep ground flaxseed in the fridge.
Add them to your oatmeal, salad or snack on a handful. A bonus: Walnuts are higher in disease fighting antioxidants than any other nut. Try this Kale Walnut Pesto.
Add them to your smoothie, sprinkle them on your hummus or your dairy free yogurt. Chia seeds are also high in calcium. Try these Seed & Nut Super Squares
You probably wouldn’t have guessed this one but Brussels sprouts are quite high in omega-3’s – higher than any other veggie. Roast them, steam them or sauté them and add them to your power bowl or chop them up raw for a delicious Brussels sprout leaf salad.
Plant based omega-3 foods contain the omega-3 called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), unlike the DHA and EPA found in seafood. DHA and EPA are long chain omega-3s whereas ALA is a short chain omega-3.
(don’t worry, there isn’t a test)
Clinical studies have researched the effects of both marine and plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids and have found that both have cardio health benefits.
However, you do need both types to get all the health benefits listed above but don’t worry, your amazing body converts ALA to DHA. That’s why it’s essential to include at least one or two of the foods above in your lifestyle.
Ideally you can get all the omega-3’s you need from the plant based foods listed above, however life isn’t always ideal. If flax and chia seeds aren’t your thing, or you’re allergic to walnuts, you can easily add in a plant based omega-3 supplement which would be in DHA and EPA form and made from algae. Two good brands are NutraVege or Sunwarrior.
I personally get in my omega-3’s by adding flax to my morning smoothie or oatmeal and making sure I snack on a couple walnuts a day. I sprinkle chia seeds on my avocado or almond butter toast or stir them into my hummus.