Omega fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids that have many benefits in the body. There are three main types: Omega 3, 6, and 9. It’s essential to have a balance of all three types. Omega-3 fatty acids are the most important and have many proven health benefits, including mood balance, brain, heart, eye, and skin support, and they are anti-inflammatory. Omega-3 and 6 are considered essential because our bodies can’t produce them, so we need to get them from our diet. The standard American diet already has an abundance of omega-6 fatty acids, so it’s a good idea to ensure that you’re consuming enough omega-3 fatty acids to create balance. The best source of omega-3 fatty acids is fish or a fish oil supplement. This makes it more difficult for people eating a vegan diet as they do not consume fish. An alternative is to take an algae-based omega-3 supplement or consume certain foods with omega-3 fatty acids. Here is a list of vegan foods which contain omega fatty acids.
1) Walnuts: are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. They can be eaten alone, as a snack, or sprinkled over cereal, oatmeal, or a salad.
2) Flax seeds: are higher in omega-3 fatty acids compared to omega-6. Ground flax is an excellent addition to a daily protein smoothie or enjoy the nutty flavor sprinkled over a salad.
3) Chia seeds: have a high percentage of omega fatty acids compared to other seeds. They are also higher in omega-3 fatty acids compared to omega-6. An easy way to incorporate these into your diet is to add a tsp to your smoothie in the morning.
4) Hemp seeds: contain an ideal ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids. They are also high in protein and are tasty too. These are delicious sprinkled on a salad or added to a smoothie.
5) Olive oil: has about a 10:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids, but the predominant fatty acid in olive oil is a healthy monounsaturated fat called oleic acid. Olive oil is best in it’s raw (uncooked) form. I encourage adding it to salads, drizzled overcooked vegetables, or a hard-boiled egg.
6) Coconut oil: an excellent source of medium-chain fatty acids and omega-6. It also has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. This delicious oil can be used for cooking, baking, or blended into a tasty smoothie.
7) Avocado: contains all 3 of the omega fatty acids: omega-3, 6, and 9. This delicious fruit can be whipped up into a tasty guacamole, cubed and added to a salad, or spread on a piece of toast.
8) Pumpkin seeds: contains all 3 of the omega fatty acids: omega-3, 6, and 9. These seeds are a great addition to a salad or sprinkled over cereal or oatmeal.
If you’d like to discuss how to increase your intake of vegan omegas, call 480-588-6856 for a free brief meet and greet with one of our naturopathic doctors.