FISH-FREE OMEGA-3 SOURCES
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential nutrients that our bodies can’t produce on their own, and therefore need to get from the foods we eat or supplements we take.
They play an important role in helping our body function normally. Here are the top 10 best omega-3 sources that aren’t fish…
1) Chia Seeds
Chia seeds are a nutritional powerhouse. They’re rich in omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and fiber. They also have lots of protein (8 grams per ounce) and calcium (1/4 cup gives you 18 percent of your daily value).
Plus, they’re more filling than flaxseeds. And—bonus!—you can use them as an egg substitute in baking. Need inspiration? Try our chia seed pudding or banana bread with chia seeds.
2) Hemp Seeds
A nutritional powerhouse, hemp seeds are one of nature’s most balanced foods. They contain all 20 amino acids—including those nine essential to human health—as well as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and antioxidants.
Since it can be difficult to obtain enough essential fatty acids through diet alone, many experts recommend taking in flaxseed oil or hemp seed oil supplements.
Use these seeds in baked goods or sprinkle them on top of salads and other dishes for an extra protein boost.
Walnuts are not only a good source of protein and fiber, but they also contain omega-3 fatty acids.
For example, 100 grams of walnuts have 4.1 milligrams of alpha linolenic acid (ALA), which is around 2 percent of your daily value for ALA if you’re eating a 2,000 calorie diet. This kind of fat could improve blood flow and reduce inflammation; both are key to heart health.
Walnuts also help to decrease cholesterol levels because it has high amounts of monounsaturated fats—which lower LDL (bad) cholesterol while raising HDL (good) cholesterol—and PUFAs like ALA. This makes walnuts one of our top 10 best sources for omega-3s!
An excellent source of omega-3s, spinach is loaded with vitamins, minerals and fiber. In a study of more than 20,000 adults published in 2009 in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Researchers found that those who consumed at least 1 serving per day (cooked or raw) were less likely to develop high triglycerides (dangerous fat in your blood stream) and more likely to have a lower BMI.
Spinach has a mild flavor that goes well with many dishes; toss it into pasta for a nutrient boost! Go for dark green varieties like baby spinach or mature spinach; look for bags labeled organic to avoid being exposed to pesticides.
5) Flax Seeds
Flax seeds are a great source of omega-3s, as well as fiber and protein. Just one ounce contains 4.4 grams of fat, 3.2 grams of which are essential fatty acids, including ALA and SDA.
To take advantage of their beneficial oils, it’s best to consume flax seeds whole rather than milled or pressed for oil—and you can even add them to your baked goods for a nice nutritional boost. One word of caution: Go easy on them if you have a pre-existing nut allergy because they are in fact related to nuts!
All you avocado fans, listen up! Avocados contain a fat that’s good for your heart.
It lowers LDL cholesterol (the bad stuff) and raises HDL cholesterol (the good stuff). Just one cup of chopped avocado contains 11 grams of oleic acid—three times as much as a comparable serving of salmon.
To benefit from avocado’s goodness, eat it raw or in a salad or try guacamole as an alternative to mayonnaise. It also adds flavor and creaminess to soups and stews.
These nuts are high in healthy fats, fiber and magnesium. Studies show that almonds can lower cholesterol, reduce inflammation and even fight diabetes.
A 2009 study published in The Journal of Nutrition shows that after 12 weeks, subjects who ate a 1.5 ounce serving of almonds each day had improved their LDL or bad cholesterol levels by 8 percent as well as reduced their waist circumference by 4 percent.
And try not to eat too many at once — they have plenty of calories (about 170 per cup). Instead, stick to a handful a day to reap their heart benefits.
8) Brazil Nuts
These nuts are rich in magnesium, an essential mineral that helps keep heart rhythm steady and blood pressure low.
Magnesium also plays a role in energy metabolism and muscle contractions—including your heartbeat! Brazil nuts are an excellent source of selenium, which is also a key factor in heart health.
Selenium plays a major role in antioxidant activity and helps protect you from damaging free radicals associated with cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, aging skin and more.
These delicious nuts are packed with other healthy nutrients including fiber, potassium and protein.
If you’re looking for a good OMEGA-3 SOURCES fats, try leafy greens. Arugula, Swiss chard, spinach and beet greens are all high in ALA omega-3 fatty acids.
Some cruciferous vegetables (including broccoli, cabbage and Brussels sprouts) also provide good amounts of ALA omega-3s—about 200 mg per 1/2 cup cooked serving.
While some reports say that iceberg lettuce is low in nutrients overall, it’s still a good source of ALA; one cup contains 25 mg or more per serving. And with 2 to 5 grams of fiber per 1/2 cup cooked serving—that’s a lot of bang for your nutritional buck!
10) Leafy Greens
Leafy greens, like spinach and chard, are top OMEGA-3 SOURCES. You can also try any type of vegetable juice (red or green) made at home for a low cost and high nutrient value.
Add a tablespoon of ground flaxseed to your morning smoothie for an easy way to get more omega-3 fatty acids into your diet.
Veggies aren’t your only option, though—many types of fish contain omega-3s, like salmon and tuna. However, it’s important to note that farmed fish often contains higher levels of PCBs than wild varieties.