Omega-3 fatty acids are considered ‘essential’ as they are necessary for human health, however, our bodies can’t make them on its own. This means we have to get them through our diet. There are three important omega-3 fatty acids:
• Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)
• Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
• Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
(EPA and DHA can be made from ALA in our body)
Why You Need Omega-3
It’s associated with reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, and is important during pregnancy and breastfeeding for healthy development of babies. It is also linked to good memory.
Vegetarian and Vegan Sources of Omega-3
The best source of omega 3 (EPA and DHA) is oily fish but there are other food sources for those following a vegetarian or vegan diet:
- Nuts and seeds – specifically walnuts, pumpkin, chia, flax and hemp seeds
- Vegetable oils – rapeseed and linseed
- Soya and soya products, tofu, green leafy vegetables are also sources
You can find some omega-3 enriched foods too, such as eggs, some brands of milk, yogurt, bread and spreads. Omega-3 supplements are also available, but you should aim to get your intake from food sources rather than a supplement.