With more and more evidence about both the benefits of sufficient EPA and DHA levels and the challenge obtaining sufficient amounts of it as part of a vegan or vegetarian diet, how can you ensure to get sufficient quantity and quality of omega-3 fats, which are essential for brain, heart, eyesight and immune system.
Looking at numerous studies, here are some of our takeaways:
- Flax and chia seeds as well as pumpkin and hemp seeds and also walnuts are good sources of ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) Omega-3 and should be consumed frequently. However the general view is that only about 5% of ALA is converted to EPA
- Dark leafy vegetables provide a portion of Omega-3 similar to meat among meat eaters, but nearly not as much as oily fish
- A recent study in Finnland found higher levels of total Omega-3 in vegans, though mainly from ALA, whereas EPA and DHA level were significantly lower in the vegans vs. the non-vegetarians (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4739591/)
- The Omega-3 to Omega-6 ratio is also of considerable importance as too much Omega-6 (compared to 3), which is common in a Western diet is not beneficial, in particular in the context of inflammation or any inflammatory diseases (see our blog on this topic here)
- In addition to above dietary recommendations, supplementing with vegan sources of Omega-3 is highly recommended. Shop here