By Rachael Link, MS, RD
Omega-3 fatty acids are important fats that provide many health benefits.
Studies have found that they may reduce inflammation, decrease blood triglycerides and even reduce the risk of dementia (1, 2, 3).
The most well-known sources of omega-3 fatty acids include fish oil and fatty fish like salmon, trout and tuna.
This can make it challenging for vegans, vegetarians or even those who simply dislike fish to meet 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 is not as active in the body and must be converted to two other forms of omega-3 fatty acids—eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)—to bestow the same health benefits (4).
Unfortunately, your body’s ability to convert ALA is limited. Only about 5 percent of ALA is converted to EPA, while less than 0.5 percent is converted to DHA (5).
Thus, if you don’t supplement with fish oil or get EPA or DHA from your diet, it’s important to eat a good amount of ALA-rich foods to meet your omega-3 needs.
Additionally, keep in mind your omega-6 to omega-3 ratio, as a diet low in omega-3s but high in omega-6s can increase inflammation and your risk of disease (6).
Here are seven of the best plant sources of omega-3 fatty acids.