Can omega 3 be vegan?

In this brief guide, we will answer the query, “Can omega 3 be vegan?” and will discuss different vegan sources for omega 3.

Can omega 3 be vegan?

Yes, omega 3 can be a vegan. Omega-3 fats are necessary for heart health, brain function, and inflammation reduction, yet most of us do not consume enough of them. Adult women only need 1.1g per day, while adult males require 1.6g, but if you consume a normal American diet, this is easier said than done. It’s much more challenging for vegans and vegetarians who don’t eat seafood.

The World Health Organization (WHO) also recommended 200–500 mg of EPA + DHA for adults, and the Institute of Medicine, IOM suggests 10% of ALA intake should be from EPA + DHA. The WHO also suggests that vegetarians who do not eat fish should ensure adequate intake of plant sources of ALA (1).

This superfood ingredient may be found in a variety of plants, and it not only boosts your omega-3 consumption but also provides a slew of other essential elements for good health. Even omnivores may wish to include these vegan omega-3 fat sources in their diets!

Recent surveys from Western nations suggest that typically between 1% and 5% of the population are currently following a vegan diet, and that this diet is particularly popular in people aged between 15 and 34 years (2).

Forms of omega 3

It’s worth noting that omega-3 fats come in three distinct forms: DHA, EPA, and ALA. The plant-based sources are rich in ALA, while DHA and EPA are more difficult to come by on a vegan or vegetarian diet.

Although ALA may be converted to the other two forms, it is not the most effective way to produce EHA and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). As a vegan or vegetarian, you may want to increase your omega-3 fat consumption to assist your body to receive the nutrients it requires.

The highest conversion of ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) to EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid)  occurs when LA (linoleic acid) and ALA are supplied at the ratio of 1:1. However, in the typical western and Asian diet, this ratio is 15/1 to 16.7/1 . Thus, reducing the LA intake and increasing the intake of ALA can help maintain the dietary n-6/n-3 PUFAs intake in the ratio of 1:1. In this scenario, the inclusion of ALA-rich food can substantially increase n-3 FAs in the body (3).

Although soybean, chia seed, flaxseed, and canola oil are abundant sources of ALA, efficiency of conversion of ALA to EPA and DHA is estimated to be only ~5% and < 0.5%, respectively, raising the possibility that adherence to a non-fatty acid supplemented vegan diet may lead to n-3 PUFA deficiency (3).

Vegan sources of omega 3

Flaxseed

Flax (linseed; Linum usitatissimum L., family Linaceae) seeds containing 35–50% oil  are a rich source of ALA (39.0 to 60.4% of total FAs) with low contents of SFAs (9–11%). In addition to the oil, flax stem is a vital source of industrial high-strength fiber, nutritionally important tocopherols, proteins, and antioxidants. As a functional food ingredient, flax or flaxseed oil is commonly incorporated into baked goods, juices, dairy products, and dry pasta products (3).

Flaxseed has more ALA omega-3 fatty acids than any other food in the world, with a tablespoon of flaxseed oil providing more than twice the daily required amount and a tablespoon of flaxseed oil providing seven times the daily recommended amount.

Flaxseed has six grams of fiber and four grams of protein in a two-tablespoon serving. It also contains high levels of Vitamin A, Magnesium, and Manganese. You may purchase them whole to make our Homemade Multi-Seed Crackers, or ground to include in your favorite smoothie or morning bowl of oatmeal.

Walnuts

While many nuts are considered superfoods, walnuts may be one of the most beneficial for overall health. Walnuts have been shown in studies to reduce blood pressure, aid weight loss, and maintenance, improve aging, and even improve gastrointestinal health!

Walnuts provide 2.7 grams of omega-3 fats per ounce, which is more than twice the daily requirement for women. By tossing walnuts on a favorite salad, baking them into brownies and other sweets, and adding them to your veggie sides, you may easily receive all of the omega-3s you need in a day (4).

Algae and seaweed

Algae such as seaweed, spirulina, nori, and chlorella are high in omega-3 lipids. These foods are particularly essential for vegans and certain vegetarians to eat since they are one of the few plant-based sources of EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids.

As a functional food, seaweed is a vegetarian source of n3-PUFAs, protein, and micronutrients. Spirulina and chlorella are commercially available biomass extracts of cyanobacteria and green algae respectively, designed to attend to a growing demand. Both spirulina and chlorella are often claimed to be valuable sources of n3-PUFAs; however, the accuracy of such statement needs to be clarified in context, as to obtain approximately 2 to 3 g of total lipids from these microalgae it is necessary to ingest approximately 28 g of it in its powdered form (4).

We adore nori in our Brown Rice & Tofu Maki Rolls, and it gives our Rice Noodle and Edamame Salad a wonderful umami taste. Spirulina and chlorella powders and supplements may be used to create stunning smoothie bowls or sneaked into other dishes like pancakes without changing the taste.

Canola Oil

Many individuals have strong opinions about which cooking oil is the best, and we recommend canola oil. One tablespoon of canola oil provides 1.28 grams of omega-3 fatty acids, which is more than a day’s worth of omega-3 fatty acids for women. Canola oil (produced from low erucic-acid (<2%) cultivars of rapeseed) is mainly composed of oleic acid (54.0–61.0%), followed by LA (20.6–25.0%) and ALA (8.7–9.5%) with an n-6/n-3 PUFAs ratio of 1.9–2.5 (3).

We also like canola oil because of its flexibility, which stems from its light and neutral taste, low saturated fat level, and high vitamin E and K content. Canola oil is great in a delicious vinaigrette or for roasting our favorite vegetables.

Hemp seeds

Hemp isn’t only for hippies anymore. Hemp seeds are a favorite of ours because of their incredible nutritional profile. Hemp seeds provide more than half of your daily omega-3 requirements in only three tablespoons, but that’s not all. Hemp seeds, commonly known as hemp hearts, are high in plant protein, fiber, iron, and magnesium, to mention a few nutrients. One ounce of hemp seed provides 2.80 g (312% and 453% of adequate intakes for men and women) in hemp seed (4).

These seeds are very adaptable and may be served for breakfast, lunch, or supper. In the mornings, try mixing hemp hearts into a favorite cereal dish or smoothie, and you’ll adore them in our Avocado Pesto.

Edamame

Edamame is a functional food that is very potential because it contains bioactive components including bioactive peptides, omega-3 fatty acids, isoflavones, sterols, and saponins, as well as high food fiber content in edamame soybeans which are proven to reduce LDL cholesterol and nutrients contained in more edamame easily digested by the body than yellow soybean (5).

Edamame is another nutritious powerhouse that should be included in your diet (provided you’re not allergic to soy). A half-cup portion of edamame offers approximately 20% of your daily omega-3 fat requirements, as well as a wealth of protein, fiber, and other minerals.

While edamame is most often associated with Asian cuisine—and it is delicious in our favorite lo main—these soybeans may be used in several recipes. That’s evident in our Greek Salad with Edamame and Egyptian Edamame Stew.

Other FAQs about Vegans that you may be interested in.

Can you eat fish on a vegan diet?

d’vegan menu

Can vegans eat cheese?

Conclusion

In this brief guide, we answered the query, “Can omega 3 be vegan?” and discussed different vegan sources for omega 3.

References

  1. Saini, Ramesh Kumar, et al. Omega− 3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFAs): Emerging Plant and Microbial Sources, Oxidative Stability, Bioavailability, and Health Benefits—A Review. Antioxidants, 2021, 10, 1627.
  2. Sutter, Daniel Olivier, and Nicole Bender. Nutrient status and growth in vegan children. Nutr Res, 2021, 91, 13-25.
  3. Russell, Fraser D., and Lara T. Meital. Health impacts of omega-3 fatty acid deficiency. Handbook of famine, starvation, and nutrient deprivation, 2018, 1-26.
  4. Santos, Heitor O., James C. Price, and Allain A. Bueno. Beyond fish oil supplementation: the effects of alternative plant sources of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids upon lipid indexes and cardiometabolic biomarkers—an overview. Nutrients, 2020, 12, 3159.
  5. Widiyawati, Agatha, and Yoswenita Susindra. Utilization of edamame soybean (Glycine max (L) Merril) as modified of enteral formula high calories. IOP Confer Ser Earth Environ Sci, 2018,. 207, 1.