Omega-3 or fish oil is the second most common supplement taken on a daily basis after multivitamins among those who take supplements in the US. But if you don't want to take fish oil for any reason (you don't eat fish or you don't like to have that much oil in your diet) there are other ways to get your Omega-3 needs met, including whole foods that are high in Omega-3 such as seeds, nuts, and beans. Here are exactly what foods to add for Omega-3.

Since the body can't produce these fatty acids on its own, these essential fats must come from the food you eat. They offer unique health benefits, including boosting mood, brightening dull skin and fighting inflammation. Specifically, Omega-3s have been shown in studies to lower blood pressure,  regulate heart rate, improve blood vessel function among others. Omega-3s are also important in regulating brain function and help boost your mood, so if you are feeling a little distracted or down, it may be that you are Omega-3 deficient.

Men and women require different doses of Omega-3s, according to the National Institutes of Health: Women should aim for 1.1 grams whereas men need around 1.6 grams daily. An Omega-3 deficiency is rare, but if you notice your skin is rough and scaly or you develop eczema, a shortage of Omega-3 may be one contributing factor. The symptoms of Omega-3 deficiency aren't always physical but can be mental or emotional, and include intensifying symptoms of depression, anxiety, or lack of focus.

Omega-3s come in three different types: EPA, DHA, and ALA. Both EPA and DHA are found in fish oil and algae, but ALA is mostly found in whole, plant foods such as nuts, beans and other legumes. The body needs to convert ALA, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) into more active forms of Omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. Think of ALA  as the building block to allow your body to get what it needs, so generally a plant-based dieter needs to eat more of these nutrients to reach their daily recommended amount. Here are the seven whole, plant foods that will help you reach your daily recommended amount of Omega-3 needs.

7 plant-based foods packed with omega 3 fatty acids


1. Chia Seeds

Chia Seeds are one of the best sources of Omega-3s, with 5 grams per ounce and are easy to add to your morning toast, salads, or even pancake batter. Besides Omega-3s, chia seeds also boast high levels of fiber, calcium, phosphorous, and manganese. For every serving, chia seeds provide one-third of your daily fiber needs. A study associated chia seeds with lowering inflammation, controlling diabetes and hypertension as well as boosting immunity.

How to add chia seeds to your diet: 


2. Walnuts

Walnuts have 3.34 grams of Omega-3s per cup. Add walnuts to your morning load cake, vegan pesto sauce, or as a topping in your salad. The skin of walnuts are the most nutrient-dense and has the most antioxidants. Eating walnuts on a day to day is good for your heart, brain health, and protects against cancer, according to studies. They are high in fiber, vitamin E, and manganese.

How to add walnuts to your diet:


3. Hemp seeds

Hemp seeds have 2.61 grams of Omega-3 in 3 tablespoons. Use hemp seeds as a topping to your acai bowl or make homemade seed crackers to dip in your hummus. Hemp seeds are high in iron, vitamin E, calcium, fiber, and zinc. Eating more hemp seeds will boost your immunity, heart health, promote hair, skin, and nail growth as well as keep your mind sharp, according to studies. Hemp seed oil also offers the same health benefits as seeds but in a more concentrated dose.

How to add hemp seeds to your diet:


4. Flaxseeds

Flaxseeds have 1.8 grams of Omega-3s per tablespoon or a whole day's worth. Add flaxseeds into pumpkin muffin mix, energy, and protein balls, or berry tart dessert. Flaxseeds are also packed with fiber and protein. Flaxseeds contain plant compounds called lignans that have been linked to lowering the risk of cancer.

How to add flaxseeds to your diet:


5. Edamame

Edamame has 0.55 grams of Omega-3s per cup. Edamame is delicious in vegan ramen or a vegetable-packed grain bowl. Edamame is one of the best sources of plant-based protein with 17 grams per cup. The. soybean is also a great source of fiber, vitamin K and antioxidants that are linked to reducing the risk of diabetes and heart disease, according to this study.

How to add edamame to your diet:


6. Kidney beans

Kidney beans have .19g of Omega-3s per cup. Add to an arugula salad or make it the star in your bean chili. Kidney beans are also high in protein with 15 grams in one cup. This legume is also rich in antioxidants and fiber that has been linked to weight loss, lower risk of heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.

How to add kidney beans to your diet:


7. Brussels sprouts

Brussels sprouts have .135 g of Omega-3s in 1/2 cup. This cruciferous vegetable is much more than a side dish and can be also added to your morning smoothie or the star of any stir fry with the right spices. Brussel sprouts are surprisingly high in vitamin C and vitamin K: 1/2 cup meets 81% of your daily vitamin C goals and 137% of vitamin K requirements. Brussels sprouts have been linked to preventing blood vessel disease in a recent study.

How to add Brussels sprouts to your diet: 

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