Despite what you’ve likely been led to believe, you can get all of the omega-3s you need from plants. No fish oil needed.
In fact, plant-based foods are the ideal dietary source for omega-3 fatty acids.
Unlike plants, fish come with a whole lot of unwanted baggage. Not only is fish high in other “bad fat,” but most seafood products are also high in mercury and other contaminants.
Plants, on the other hand, have optimal amounts of fats, making it easier for your body to convert ALA (alpha-linoleic acid, from which omega-3s are derived) to EPA or DHA.
The ratio of omegas (3:6:9) in your diet is key.
Since many processed and prepared foods are high in omega-6, limiting those foods and focusing on whole, plant-based foods is the healthiest way to go.
Plant foods high in omega-3 make a healthy addition to your diet. Incorporating a few of them daily or weekly into your meals is all you need to do.
Of course you can eat many of these plant foods on their own or simply steamed or boiled. However, that’s not the only way to add them to your diet.
From salads to smoothies to stews, there are plenty of ways to enjoy them. We’ve included recipes suggestions for each of them to help get you started!
A great plant-based source of omega-3, you can incorporate flaxseeds into many different recipes. Anything from smoothies to muffins can always be given a omega-3 boost by adding some flaxseeds. These Golden Flax Seed Crackers are a nice example of how to add a healthy crunch to your diet. You may want to try them with your favourite dip or just snack on them as is.
#2) Hemp seeds
Like flaxseeds, hemp seeds can be added to salads, smoothies, or baked goods. How do Vegan Tahini Hemp Seeds Bars sound? With hemp seeds, oats, dates, coconut, tahini, and maple syrup, these bars are a serious whole food, plant-based treat!
#3) Chia seeds
Chia seeds help provide a filling texture to pudding or jam. They also blend well with fruit, like in this Persimmon Chia Pudding. But pudding and jam aren’t the only recipes you can add them to. Here are some more ways to include chia seeds in your diet, and many of these vegan chia seed recipes are oil-free too.
#4) Black walnuts
Walnuts are another versatile plant food high in omega-3 that goes well in a number of recipes. For starters, walnuts are great in breads and loaves as they add a bit of crunch. You could go with a fruit and nut loaf, such as an Apple-Walnut Breakfast Bread or a Spelt Banana Bread. Or, you could make a hearty Vegan Lentil Loaf and top it with your favourite vegan gravy! Or, you could always toss a handful of crushed walnuts on a salad or use them to make a veggie “meat” for tacos.
#5) Leafy greens
Of course leafy greens go well in salad or you can add them to smoothies. But, they also can go in casseroles, or you can load a bunch of veggies or fruit into a lettuce wrap. A touch of green is also a nice way to finish off a vegan pizza!
A tasty, fun way to have an omega-3 rich dish is definitely a vegan Mexican burrito bowl! Start with some black beans, rice, and corn, then add in the veggies, salsa, vegan cheese sauce. This recipe can work as an appetiser that everyone can enjoy. But, why not just load up your fave toppings and have a burrito bowl all to yourself! Brandi, of The Vegan 8, sure knew what she was doing when she came up with this one!
Edamame is often eaten as a snack, just as it is with a bit of added salt. However, that’s not the only way to have this legume. Why not put the chickpeas aside for a bit and try out Edamame Hummus?! (If you skip the added oil, this recipe will be oil-free.) You can also add it to a stir-fry or fried rice (see the notes at the bottom of the recipe). Edamame also makes a nice addition to a salad, stew, or casserole.
You can enjoy berries fresh, blend them in smoothies, or add them to salads knowing that you’re getting a little vegan omega-3 in your meal. Another way to have a quick, healthy meal is to blend up a few vegan omega-3 rich foods like in a Berry Smoothie Bowl. Top it off with fresh or frozen berries and you’ll have yourself a delicious, refreshing, and, let’s face it, very pretty berry bowl!
#9) Winter squash
Butternut squash is a popular winter vegetable that’s often used in soups, and for good reason! Not only does it have a lovely colour, but it pairs well with many other vegetables. Try this Creamy Butternut Squash Soup from Raw Till Whenever. And you can check out their instant pot vegan e-book for more simple to prepare healthy recipes.
#10) Brassica vegetables
Steamed broccoli or brussel sprouts adds a simple side to a dish that never goes out of style. Another go-to is a veggie teriyaki rice bowl loaded with broccoli, cauliflower, or cabbage.
But, if you’re looking for a more interesting way to mix it up, how about veggie filled tacos? And we’re not just talking lettuce and tomatoes. Why not make vegetables the main attraction? Brand New Vegan’s Amazing Cauliflower Tacos are definitely something to write home about. Not only are they a tasty way to enjoy cauliflower, but they’ve got a healthy helping of omega-3 rich walnuts too! Or, if you’re wanting more of snack or appetiser, try vegan cauliflower wings.
With a few slight adjustments, you can help to ensure your diet has more plant foods high in omega-3.
You certainly don’t need to eat them at every meal, but making sure you fit them in each week is a good place to start.
Just like protein, calcium, iron, and other important nutrients, a diet comprised of a variety of colourful whole, plant foods should help to ensure you get all the nutrition you need.
To Take or Not To Take Fish Oil (NutritionStudies.org)
Is Fish a Health Food, or Have We Just Let It Off the Hook? (Forks Over Knives)
Omega-3 Fatty Acids (NutritionFacts.org)
How to Get Your Omega-3 on a Vegan Diet (BiteSizeVegan)
Plant-Based Foods With the Highest Omega-3 Fatty Acids (One Green Planet)
Essential Facts about Fats (NutritionStudies.org)