Dietary Sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are very important nutrients for optimal health of human body. These are present in foods of animal origin as well as in foods of vegetable origin. But the amount of omega-3 fatty acids present in foods of animal origin is much higher, especially in fish (sea fish as well as fresh water fish) and other marine animals. Omega-3 fatty acids present in foods of plant origin are comparatively lower than foods of animal origin.

If you are a vegetarian/vegan, it is important to plan your diet well to meet the requirements of not only omega-3 fatty acids, but other essential nutrients as well for optimal health condition, such as proteins, vitamins etc. In most of the commonly used cereals (as staple diet) such as rice, wheat, maize/corn etc. may not contain sufficient amount of omega-3 fatty acids to meet the daily requirement essential for best health state, as in the foods of plant origin only few have sufficient amount of omega-3 fatty acids to meet daily requirement.

Common foods of animal origin with good amount of omega-3 fatty acids:

  • Fish and fish oil: herring, salmon, mackerel, tuna, halibut, cod, catfish, swordfish, tilefish, Pollock, mullet, trout, shark etc.
  • Other animal foods: prawn, shrimp, egg, crab, lobster, clam, oyster, etc. are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids.

Vegetable sources of omega-3 fatty acids:

  • Good vegetable sources of omega-3 fatty acids are (approximate amount of omega-3 fatty acids in gram per 100 gram in bracket): flaxseed or linseed (22), dried butternuts (08), English and Persian walnuts (6.5), black walnut (03), dried chia seeds (04), dried soybeans (1.5), green soybeans (03), dried beechnuts (1.5), Hempseed (09), pecan nuts (01) etc.
  • Vegetable sources of omega-3 fatty acids with average content: beans, cowpeas, peas, kale, leek, purslane, seaweed such as spirulina, rice, wheat, barley, oats, corn etc. All have omega-3 fatty acids of approximately 0.2 to less than one gram per 100 gram.

Most of the foods of animal sources have omega-3 fatty acids and non vegetarians generally have no problem in consuming sufficient quantity of omega-3 fatty acids from their diet. But vegans/vegetarians should plan well to get sufficient quantity of omega-3 fatty acids from their diet, as common eaten plant foods may not have sufficient quantity of omega-3 fatty acids to meet daily recommended requirement.

Image: lobster20 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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