13 Best Sources Of Omega-3’s That Reduce Inflammation
Written by: Kat Gal
One of the most popular supplements on the market are Omega 3 fatty acids. You can buy them in forms of fish oil supplements or there are also vegan versions made of algae.
But what on earth are Omega 3 fatty acids and what do they do?
Believe it or not, Omega 3 fatty acids play a role in every single cell in your body.
- Omega 3 makes up your cell membranes.
- It keeps your nervous system functioning.
- It helps your cholesterol levels to stay at a healthy range.
- Most importantly, it reduces inflammation in your body.
In your body, Omega 3 gets converted into docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).
Many people worry that they don’t get enough Omega 3 fatty acids in their diet (especially if they are vegetarian). I know that next to the “how do you get your protein?” question, this is the most frequent inquiry from my vegetarian friends.
Lucky for you though, it is actually super easy to get enough Omega 3 fatty acids in your diet, even if you are a vegan or vegetarian or if you don’t want to spend money on supplements.
However, it is not enough to just focus on your Omega 3-s. You have to pay attention to your Omega 6’s as well.
Since Omega 6 fatty acids are also essential for your body, it is important to keep your Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acid at a balanced ratio.
Most health experts recommend a 1:4 ratio of Omega 3 to Omega 6 fatty acids. Yet, the Standard American Diet is low in Omega 3-s and high in Omega 6-s. This is a result of the highly processed unnatural foods and the lack of plant based, real foods.
Most Americans eat 10 or even 20 times more Omega 6 fatty acids in their diets than they actually need. I know that at one point, I had a 1:40 ratio of Omega 3-s and Omega 6-s. No wonder I had so much inflammation and pain in my body ranging from headaches to fibromyalgia.
But you don’t have to worry. You can reverse the damage if you eliminate processed foods from your diet, start eating a whole foods diet with lots of vegetables and fruits and start paying attention to adding foods high in Omega 3 fatty acids. It didn’t take me long to get my body back to balance once I started incorporating these principles.
Here is a list of the 13 best vegan sources of Omega 3. All these have a low Omega 3 to Omega 6 fatty acid ratio, allowing your body to mend itself.
1. Flax Seeds: One ounce of flax seeds has 6388 mg of Omega 3. 1655 mg of Omega 6 keeps your Omega ratios balanced. Use flax seeds in your smoothies, oatmeal and on your salads. You can make flax eggs by adding 3 tbsp of water to 1 tbsp of ground seeds, stirring and allowing it to thicken for at least 20 minutes.
2. Hemp Seeds: Hemp seeds are my favorite, because of their sweeter flavor and light texture. Hemp seeds have a great Omega 3 to Omega 6 ratio with 1100 mg Omega 3 and 2700 mg Omega 6 in one ounce. Use them on the top of salads, fruit salads, in smoothies, in your pancakes and other baking.
3. Chia Seeds: Chia seeds have been becoming pretty mainstream and popular lately. One ounce of chia includes 4915 Omega 3 and 1620 mg of Omega 6. As a bonus, chia is full of calcium, manganese and fiber. You can make chia puddings as a popular breakfast option or add it to your smoothies.
4. Seaweed: Seaweed may sound weird, but trust me, it’s good for you. Seaweed is not only high in Omega 3, but is one of the only vegan foods that have EPA and DHA in it too. No wonder vegan Omega 3 supplements are created out of seaweed.
Spirulina has 58 mg of Omega 3 and 88 mg of Omega 6, making it one of the best choices from the seaweed family. You can add spirulina powder to your juices and smoothies. You can also mix it in with mashed banana for a strange but sweet snack.
5. Leafy Greens: I swear, leafy greens make every single “best healthy food” list – they are so good for you! A cup of cooked spinach has 352 mg of Omega 3 and a little Omega 6. Broccoli, collards, kale and grape leaves are also great sources of Omega 3. You can use them in salads, juices, smoothies, soups, stir-fries or even enjoy them steamed.
6. Cabbage Family: Yep, the cabbage family is making the list too. Cauliflower has 208 mg of Omega 3 and 62 mg of Omega 6 per cup, making it the best choice. Broccoli, brussel sprouts and greens cabbages are also good choices. They are the best steamed or in stir-fries.
7. Mustard Oil: Olive oil may be popular and may have its benefits, but if you are looking to decrease inflammation, you may want to swap your olive oil dressing for mustard oil instead. Mustard oil has 826 Omega 3 and 2146 Omega 6 in one tablespoon. Though it still has a higher Omega 6 content than Omega 3, it’s a much better ratio than olive oil with only 103 mg of Omega 3 yet 1318 Omega 6. Don’t overdo it though. You can find them in Indian food stores for your salads.
8. Beans: Beans can be very helpful meeting your daily Omega 3 requirement without piling on Omega 6-s. Mungo beans are the best with 603 mg Omega 3 and 43 mg Omega 6 in one cup cooked. French beans and navy beans make close seconds.
To get the most out of beans, sprout them first then cook them. They are a good source of protein too.
9. Winter Squash: With squash season coming up, this is pretty timely. Winter squash has 338 mg of Omega 3s and 203 mg of Omega 6s in one cup cooked. Bake it in your oven and add a big salad next to it. You have a perfect warming dish for the oncoming cold days.
10. Berries: You might’ve heard that berries are full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. But they are such excellent sources of Omega 3s too with 174 mg in 1 cup and only 259 mg of Omega 6. Eat them raw by the handful or add them to salads or smoothies.
11. Wild Rice: Wild rice is an awesome source of iron, protein, fiber, magnesium, zinc and manganese. It really is a superfood. It has 156 mg of Omega 3s and 195 mg of Omega 6s. Cook it and mix it with another rice or mix it into your salads. It has a slightly nutty texture with a very nice flavor.
12. Herbs And Spices: Herbs and spices all have a great Omega 3 to Omega 6 ratio. Cloves for example have 86 mg/52 mg per 2 grams, oregano has 73 mg/ 18 mg, marjoram has 49 mg/18 mg and tarragon has 44 mg/11 mg. Though you won’t meet you RDA requirement with spices and herbs alone, they are a great addition to your dishes and salads with some Omegas thrown in there.
13. Mangoes: I will never forget when my assistant pointed out a mango tree when I was working in Kenya. Mangos are beautiful, sweet and filling tropical fruits. They are such a treat and are also packed with 77 mg Omega 3s per fruit.
On the list, mangos are the only food with less Omega 6 than Omega 3s, only 29 mg per fruit. While you can enjoy mangos just as they are, they also add a great texture and sweet flavor to your smoothies.
Kat Gál is a multi-passionate writer, world traveler, nomad, runner, and cat-person. She is a lifelong learner who lives outside of her comfort zones stretching her boundaries and discovering beauty around the world. She is a Certified Holistic Health and Life Coach who encourages others to embrace their unique authentic selves, follow their heart and find their own version of freedom in life.
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