Vegetarians and Omega-3 Fatty Acids

For vegetarians who don’t eat fish, and especially for vegans (who eat no animals or animal by-products at all), getting a daily requirement of Omega-3 fatty acids can be a real challenge. Learn where to get Omega-3 fatty acids, why they are important in daily health, and how much of these essential fatty acids should be consumed daily.

Why are Omega-3 fatty acids so important? For starters, they are linked to helping prevent heart disease, arthritis, and some cancers. Essential fatty oils, like Omega-3s, help to promote overall bodily health and function, and a lack of Omega-3 fatty acids can lead to dry skin (and wrinkling skin), fatigue, bad memory (since Omega-3s also protect the brain), poor circulation, mood swings, and an unhealthy heart. Imagine how oil is used to function a well-running car. Without oil, a car will not start. Too thick oil, and the car will not run well. Without healthy essential fats, like Omega-3 fatty acids, our bodies just don’t plain run as well as they should. With unhealthy saturated fats, our bodies also run more poorly. The proper essential fats are the ones our bodies need.

A great rule to remember is that nuts (such as raw peanuts, walnuts, almonds, etc) are a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids. Eating them raw is best, as the fatty acids have then not been chemically altered with a cooking process. However, even eating peanut butter (one of my favorites) is a great way to get the Omega-3 fatty acids that you need daily.

Avocados are another easily obtained product that has ample amounts of Omega-3 fatty acids, and is a tasty alternative to fish or fish oil. Also great are olives (black or green), soy products (including soy milk, I LOVE Silk), and seeds, such as sesame seeds (also rich in calcium) and sunflower seeds (unsalted is best). Even baked pumpkin or squash seeds can provide a tasty snack that gives you the Omega-3 fatty acids that you’d like.

Oils, like flaxseed oil and hempseed oil, are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, so long as they aren’t heated. They are best to use as an oil-based garnish, such as a dressing for salads or as an oil to replace butter on breads and other buttery snacks.

Fish oil isn’t the only supplement out there that helps a person obtain their Omega-3 fatty acid intake daily. Plant organisms, such as algae and other marine plant life, can also be taken in supplemental form to help a vegetarian or vegan to obtain their daily requirement of Omega-3 fatty acids daily without consuming meat. A person should aim to consume 2-4 grams of Omega-3 fatty acids daily, either in supplemental form or in their daily diet.

Sources:

http://www.womentowomen.com/healthynutrition/veganepadha.aspx

http://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/omega-3-000316.htm

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