Omega 3 fatty acids are often found in salmon but for vegans looking for Vegan Omega 3 sources, it is found under the label of fish oil. But how healthy is fish oil actually? There is also a lot of discussion about how responsibly it is made and whether it is still healthy with all the pollution in the sea. But certainly as a vegan you cannot ignore Omega 3 fatty acids because they are so important. Let’s delve into this topic.
Should Vegan Omega 3 Sources Come From Fish Oil?
We always hear that vegetarians and vegans need more protein, but we don’t hear about amino acids and Omega 3 fatty acids enough.
What are amino acids?
Vegetarians and vegans need more protein than people who eat meat. This has to do with the amino acids in proteins and the digestibility. Proteins that you ingest through your food and drink are broken down by your body into small protein chunks: the amino acids. Your body makes different proteins with this. While certain amino acids can be made by the body itself, others have to be absorbed through food: the essential amino acids. Vegetable proteins sometimes contain less essential amino acids or in the wrong proportion. In addition, the protein from some vegetable products is sometimes more difficult to digest.
Sufficient essential amino acids and good digestibility together determine the protein quality. You can express the quality of protein in a number. The quality of chicken egg protein is the reference: 1.00. The lower quality of vegetable protein sources means that someone needs a little more protein if he does not consume any or less animal protein.
What are Omega 3 fatty acids?
Omega 3 is unsaturated fat that our body cannot make itself. It is recommended to eat 200 milligrams of Omega 3 fatty acids per day. In general, fats always have the image of unhealthy and bad. But then we are talking about saturated fats. Our body has many benefits from these healthy fats.
What function does Omega 3 have in my body?
Omega 3 or fish oil is just as important as vitamins and minerals. Our body cannot make this on its own. It is essential for the heart muscle but also for our eyes. Especially the fatty oxygen DHA helps in the healthy and proper functioning of our retina. For example, we can see different colors, but also the difference between dark and light.
What is DHA?
Omega 3 fatty acids themselves consist of a few different fatty acids :
- Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA)
- Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
- Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA)
DHA and EPA are the best known. This type of fatty acid is mainly found in fatty fish and crustaceans. Just think of mackerel, sardines, salmon, and tuna. The DHA fatty acids are especially important for brain function and blood clotting. It is the key to:
- Healthy brain function
- Good blood clotting
- Reducing heart disease
- Less risk of stroke
- Helps reduce lupus and rheumatoid arthritis symptoms
Where can vegans find Omega 3 sources?
Omega 3 fatty acids are mainly found in oily fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines, and tuna.. Some fats are also found in eggs and some meats. But is that the only source? Certainly not. You can also find other fatty acids in vegetable products.
Lastly, is algae the future for vegans?
Many people have an Omega 3 deficiency. Not only Vegans but also non-vegans, who just don’t like fish. It is often recommended to take supplements. But as a vegan, most practicing vegans would rather avoid that because there is a lot of discussion about animal welfare and health. Due to the pollution of the sea, many harmful substances such as dioxin and mercury end up in fish. So also in the supplements.
But how do vegans get their Omega 3 fatty acids? The answer is in the algae! They are full of DHA. Fish do not make these fatty acids themselves. But because of the algae they eat. And therein lies the solution. This way we get Omega 3 fatty acids directly from the source. By growing algae in tanks, you do not suffer from harmful substances and it is environmentally friendly.
Another huge benefit: Algae oil has no fish taste, so this is absolutely great if you are not a fish lover.
To make the switch to a “vegetable” fish, you can easily process algae in your blender yourself. Did you know? Ancient Aztecs used them very often in their cooking. Omega 3 fatty acids are super essential for your body and mind. Fortunately, the development around Omega 3 is not standing still and there are more and more possibilities for fish-free Omega 3 for amazing vegan omega 3 sources!
How much protein do you need as a vegetarian or vegan?
The recommended amount of protein is in principle 0.83 grams per kilo of body weight, but for vegetarians and vegans that amount is 20 and 30% higher, respectively.
A calculation example: a woman of 70 kilos needs 58 grams of protein per day. If she eats vegetarian, that is 69 grams per day. That sounds like a lot, but in practice most people eat much more protein than necessary. Even if you eat less or no meat, you usually get enough protein.
What is the difference between Omega 3 fatty acids and Omega 6?
The Omega 3 variant is the most well-known, but you also have a few other variants that are just as important. And that’s Omega 6! But which one is for what? Omega 3 is especially a really good anti-inflammatory and the right hand of your heart and blood vessels. Omega 6 has a different function. These fatty acids are actually good for your resistance. It would also lower cholesterol. You can mainly find Omega 6 in sunflower oil, hemp oil, margarine, and peanut oil. You also have Omega 9. Slightly less known, but just like Omega 6, it lowers cholesterol.