Experts stated that humans are biologically designed to consume food for nutrition and health purposes. Some experts also said that plant food sources should be the first choice because they are the best sources of fiber, essential nutrients, minerals and the essential fatty acids. Some may agree, but there will also be a number of people, including some experts that will disagree with this claim. Yes, plant food sources can be a very healthy option but it is not 100% the most healthy. Some vegetables and fruits are lacking some essential nutrients and these nutrients can only be found in animal food sources. It goes the same regular eaters, there are some nutrients that meat, fish, dairy doesn’t have but can only be found in plant food sources. If you’re an omnivore, then there will be no problem with your diet because you will be able to balance your diet that will meet the required daily nutritional allowances every day or every week. If you’re eating too much animal food products, high levels of saturated fats, cholesterol and HDL can be an issue, plus you may lack dietary fiber to keep your gut cleansed. If you’re on the other side of the spectrum, say, a vegan or a vegetarian, you may lack iron, calcium and B vitamins for normal body function, plus it is a possibility that your uric acid levels are pretty high. If you’re a vegan or vegetarian or someone that wants to have more plant based-food on your diet, there may be many questions in your head on how to get the right nutrients for your body. Say for example, omega-3 fatty acids. We all know that most omega-3 sources, either food or through supplements are mostly from marine animal sources like fish, krill and squid. These are good sources of the essential fat, but if you’re going green, there are alternatives to animal–based sources. But first, let’s know what omega-3 fatty acids are.
What Are Omega-3 Fatty Acids?
Omega-3 fatty acids or n-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids that are essential to normal health and nutrition. Omega-3 fatty acids are are needed by the human body for many body functions like controlling blood clotting, cell membrane build up and in maintaining normal brain function and the cardiovascular system. Omega-3 fatty acids are considered “essential” because the human body cannot naturally manufacture omega-3 and should be sourced from the diet or through the food we eat. Omega-3 are also linked to other health benefits like heart protection from certain types of illnesses and disease, hypertension, stroke, it also minimizes the chances of developing chronic diseases like diabetes and cancer. It can also alleviate its symptoms. Omega-3 fatty acids also have anti-inflammatory properties that can control these diseases. It also helps in the chances of developing mental issues like dementia, Alzheimers, depression and ADHD. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential in metabolism.
There are three types of polyunsaturated fats in omega-3s
ALA or alpha-linolenic acid. This PUFA is mostly found in plant food sources or plant oils like seed oil, algae oil, flaxseed oil, hemp oil, Seabuckthorn oil, berry oils, nuts, avocados, green leafy vegetables, broccoli and others.
DHA or docosahexaenoic acid. Mostly found in marine or other animal food sources like fish, calamari, krill, lean meat, eggs, dairy, and many others.
EPA or eicosapentaenoic acid. Same sources as DHA.
The conversion of ALA to EPA and DHA in the human body is limited, but it can vary with individuals. Women tend to have higher efficiency in ALA conversion as compared to men, because of the lower rate of use of PUFA ALA in beta-oxidation.
When You’re a Vegan or Vegetarian..
It can be hard for vegetarians and vegans to get the daily requirement of omega-3 fatty acids because as everyone knows, most omega-3 are extracted from marine sources like calamari, fish and krill. Additionally, the vegan or vegetarian diet may also come short on zinc, calcium and B12. Iron levels may also go down since the meat will be cut out of the regular diet and they will need twice the amount of iron as compared to non vegans and vegetarians. To get the required daily requirement of EPA and DHA from non-marine sources, vegans and vegetarians need to get their omega-3 sources from plant food sources rich in ALA. ALA has not shown to have the same health benefits as EPA and DHA but the conversion of ALA to DHA and EPA needs more metabolic work. 7-15% of the dietary ALA can be converted to EPA and 13% is converted to DHA.
As most vegans and vegetarian believe that humans are not adapted to eating and digesting meats and other processed oils, it has somehow proven through history and science that meat helped in the brains evolution and development. Although meat has its advantages, going vegan or vegetarian is a choice some people do. Regular diets may also come short in the essential nutrients when compared to a vegan/vegetarian diet, which can easily meet or in some cases, go beyond the daily nutritional need of the human body, that includes essential omega-3 and omega-6. Almost all amino acids are naturally synthesized by plants, thus it can give many advantages.
Omega-3 plant sources include:
Flax seed oil. Flax seed is second to algae as one of the most effective sources of plant based omega-3 fatty acid. Consuming flax seeds by itself or adding it to a bowl of cereal or any baked goods are ways of enhancing your diet with this polyunsaturated fatty acid rich source. It is the same with flax seed oil, you’ll be able to use it in sauces, baking or on any other food you have that needs oil.
Algae oil. Algae oil is farmed in an exceedingly controlled setting, so it doesn’t have contaminants as compared to fish oil. It’s amongst the purest type of polyunsaturated fatty acid sources for vegans and vegetarians. It can be combined with different oils containing high levels of omega-3 fatty acid. It can be combined with nut or seed oil. Consuming these oils will facilitate the body in properly changing omega-3s from alternative plant sources. It’s one amongst the most common vegetarian replacements for animal based polyunsaturated fatty acids and omega-3 supplements.
Soy products. Fortified soy milk and curd offer extra sources of the essential omega-3s for vegans and vegetarians. Eight ounces of soy milk contain zero to .37 grams of the polyunsaturated fat ALA. It additionally contains protein and fiber. It’s also good in lasagna, stir cooked or with ramen.
Black currant oil. We are mostly accustomed to black currant as another flavoring for liquor, however black currant is also rich in polyunsaturated fatty acid ALA and stearidonic acid that helps improve the vascular system and helps maintain hormones that are connected to some forms of depression.
Nuts. Nuts contain less ALA as compared to marine-sourced omega-3 oils, however, it provides dietary choices for vegans and vegetarians in boosting omega-3s. Based on the ranking of Tufts University, English walnut is one amongst the most effective sources of ALA with about two to six grams of omega-3 fatty acid per one ounce serving. It also contains the needed fiber and proteins, making it one healthiness food.
Green leafy vegetables. Vegans and vegetarians typically lack the required daily calcium and iron requirements. To fulfill the daily demand, they ought to be loaded up with green leafy vegetables. It turns out, eating these green vegetables additionally contains omega-3 fatty acids. A cup of spinach contains 352 grams of omega-3 fatty acid. Kale, broccoli, collards, spinach, bok choi are smart sources of omega-3s.
Mangoes. One amongst the best tasting fruits that you simply should purchase. This sweet , yellow fruit contains about 77mg of omega-3s per fruit. You can eat it by itself, as a fruit shake or a smoothie. It’ll surely place a smile on anyone that eat mangoes.
Hemp seeds. Hemp seeds have great polyunsaturated fatty acid to omega-6 fatty acid ratio. There are 1,100 grams of omega-3 in one ounce of hemp seed.
Mustard oil. If you’re making an attempt to cut back on omega-6 fatty acid, then you’ll be able to switch from your olive oil salad dressing to using mustard oil instead. Mustard oil contains 826 grams of the essential fat and 214 grams of omega-6 fatty acid/ tablespoon.
Berries. Berries aren’t solely good sources of antioxidants and vitamins, they also contain high levels of PUFAs. Blackberries, raspberries, strawberries and blueberries are smart sources.
It may seem hard at first, but you just need to dig and know where to get these omega-3 rich foods in your local grocery or farmer’s market.