Omega-3 fatty acids are important fats that offer many health benefits.
Studies have shown that they can reduce inflammation, lower blood triglycerides, and even lower the risk of dementia (1, 2, 3).
The best known sources of omega-3 fatty acids are fish oil and fatty fish such as salmon, trout, and tuna.
This can make it difficult for vegans, vegetarians, or even those who simply don’t like fish to get their omega-3 fatty acid needs.
Of the three main types of omega-3 fatty acids, plant foods typically only contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).
ALA isn’t as active in the body and needs to be converted into two other forms of omega-3 fatty acids – eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) – to achieve the same health benefits (4).
Unfortunately, your body’s ability to convert ALA is limited. Only about 5% of ALA is converted to EPA, while less than 0.5% is converted to DHA (5).
So, unless you’re adding fish oil or getting EPA or DHA from your diet, it’s important to consume a good amount of ALA-rich foods to meet your omega-3 needs.
Also, think about your omega-6 to omega-3 ratio, as a diet low in omega-3 but high in omega-6 can increase inflammation and the risk of disease (6).
Here are 7 of the best plant-based sources of omega-3 fatty acids.