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How to get omega-3 from plant foods

Reviewed by our expert panel
Plant-based omega-3 rich foods: avocado, canola oil, flax seeds and walnuts

Plant-based omega-3 fat (ALA) is good for all of us and especially important for vegetarians and vegans. Senior nutritionist Rose Carr looks at ways to hit your daily target through plant sources.

The simplest way to get enough long-chain omega-3 in our diets is to include several serves of fish each week. However, if we don’t eat animal products, higher intakes of plant sources of omega-3 (ALA) are important. Our bodies convert a limited amount of ALA into the long-chain omega-3s. Higher intakes of long-chain omega-3s have been shown to be beneficial to heart health and may also reduce the risk for dementia, diabetes and asthma.

The adequate intake for ALA is 1.3g for men and 0.8g for women each day, but for vegetarians and vegans more is better. Canola, flaxseed and soy oils, tofu, walnuts, pumpkin seeds and some green vegetables, such as Brussels sprouts, kale, spinach and salad greens, all contain ALA.

A plant-based omega-3-rich day on a plate

This day’s meal plan contains around 2.1g of ALA.

Breakfast

0.13g omega-3

Banana and oats breakfast smoothie

The oats, trim milk and banana all contribute small amounts.

Lunch

1.44g omega-3

Mexican chicken and roast vege salad

The pumpkin seeds account for 0.91g while the oils in the mayonnaise, roasted veges and kale together contribute around 0.49g

• 2 plums

Dinner

0.13g omega-3

Baked chicken and pea risotto

Raspberry cassata loaf

Olive oil contributes most of the 0.07g in the risotto while the raspberries are the main contributor of the 0.06g in the cassata loaf.

Snacks

0.38g omega-3

Banana, raspberry and walnut loaf with reduced-fat spread

The walnuts in our loaf are the main contributors with 0.22g in a slice. Serving it with a teaspoon of reduced-fat spread adds another 0.08g.

• Barbecued pineapple with a pottle of low-fat yoghurt

First published: Jun 2021

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