Boosting Your Omega Intake
In recent years, the popularity of plant-based eating has soared, driven by various factors such as health benefits, environmental concerns, and animal welfare. Well-planned vegetarian or vegan eating can certainly meet your nutritional needs - during all stages of life - and provide health benefits for the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.
However, eating vegetarian or vegan isn’t just about cutting out meat or animal products. It’s important to replace animal products with a variety of plant foods including a broad range of vegetables, fruits, legumes, wholegrains, nuts and seeds. And there are some nutrients that may need special attention.
One of those nutrients is Omega-3 and Omega-6 essential fats which are important in maintaining cell membranes, along with helping to regulate metabolism, reducing inflammation, supporting eye and brain function, lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, and supporting heart health.
It’s recommended to consume one serving of Omega rich foods every day, so if you're following a plant-based diet and want to ensure you're meeting your Omega needs, read on!
Embrace chia and flax seeds
Chia and flax seeds are tiny powerhouses of Omega-3 fatty acids, making them excellent staples for plant-based eating. These seeds are versatile and can be easily incorporated into your breakfast, lunch or dinner. They are fairly flavourless, so good to sprinkle over oatmeal and yoghurt, or add to smoothies. You can also use them as an egg substitute in baking. Chia and flax seeds provide a healthy dose of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), a plant-based Omega-3 fatty acid that your body can convert into the essential EPA and DHA forms.
Tofu is another good source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Studies show that ALA omega-3s may also reduce the risk of heart disease. Plus, tofu delivers protein, calcium and many other essential nutrients making tofu a worthwhile addition to any diet.
Dive into algae oil
If you're looking for a direct source of EPA and DHA without consuming fish or fish oil supplements, algae oil is your go-to option. Algae are a primary source of omega-3 fatty acids in the marine food chain, and algae oil is derived from these microorganisms. Algae oil offers a sustainable and plant-based alternative to fish oil to ensure you get the essential omega-3s your body needs.
Go nuts for walnuts
Walnuts are not only a delicious snack but gram-for-gram they also contain more Omega-3 than Salmon! Packed with ALA, walnuts can be easily incorporated into your daily eating. Sprinkle them over salads, add them to stirfries, include them in your homemade granola, or even on pancakes for a nice crunch! The healthy fats in walnuts will provide a satisfying snack whilst delivering a good boost of Omega-3s.
Incorporate hemp hearts
Hemp hearts, also known as hemp seeds, are another Omega-3 powerhouse. These tiny seeds offer a complete protein source and are rich in both Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. We love to sprinkle hemp hearts over salads, blend them into smoothies, or use them as a topping for avocado toast to add a nutty flavour.
Seaweed, including varieties like nori, kelp, and wakame, offers an abundant supply of Omega-3s and other vital nutrients. These oceanic plants are a fantastic addition to your daily eating, providing a savoury taste and unique texture. Use seaweed sheets as wraps for sushi, snack on seaweed crisps, or add dried seaweed flakes into soups and stews for a delightful umami flavour.
Include leafy greens
Dark leafy greens such as kale, spinach, and brussel sprouts deserve a prominent place in your plant-based arsenal. Although they contain a modest amount of ALA, these greens are rich in other essential nutrients that support overall health. By including a generous amount of leafy greens in your meals, you'll ensure a well-rounded intake of various nutrients, including omega-3 fatty acids.
Eating plant-based doesn't mean you have to compromise on essential omega fatty acids. By incorporating chia and flax seeds, algae oil, walnuts, hemp hearts, and seaweed into your meals and snacks, you can ensure an ample supply of omegas. Remember, variety is key, so explore different sources and enjoy the benefits of a plant-powered omega-rich diet!
Find more plant-based nutrition tips by visiting our nutrition pages.