By now, you must be familiar with the nutritional benefits of omega-3 supplements. Omega-3 fats have potent anti-inflammatory properties that boost your immune system, protect you from cardiovascular disease, and even treat psychological conditions like ADHD, depression, and dementia. This important nutrient is normally obtained by eating deep sea fish, or consuming fish oil. However, both of these go against your principles as a vegetarian, and it seems like there’s no other source of these important nutrients.
Actually, there are several vegetarian alternatives to fish oil supplements that provide just as much omega-3 as deep sea fish – if not more. You too can receive the health benefits of this nutrient without compromising the beliefs you’ve upheld as a vegetarian. Below are some vegetarian-friendly sources of omega-3s.
Evening primrose oil
Did you know that the body needs a balanced ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 for you to receive the benefits of these nutrients? Evening primrose oil is an excellent source of these two essential fatty acids. Evening primrose oil contains a rare omega-6 essential fatty acid called GLA, which can only be found in human milk. Unlike most omega-6 EFAs, which block the anti-inflammatory properties of omega-3, GLA actually supports these and increases its potency. High quality evening primrose oil should be cold-pressed and non-raffinated to ensure the bio-availability of its EFA content.
Flaxseed oil is a goldmine of the mother of all omega-3 fat called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Once ingested, the body then uses ALA to create two other omega-3 fats called DHA and EPA. This means that if you consume enough ALA, you won’t need to eat any other food source of this nutrient. One other advantage of getting your omega-3 needs from ALA is that you won’t risk the dangers of consuming too much DHA and EPA; the body only converts the amount that it needs. You can obtain ALA through flaxseed oil supplements or by incorporating milled flax into your pastries and meals.
Purple viper’s bugloss (echium plantagineum)
Don’t be misled by its name – purple viper’s bugloss isn’t an exotic African snake. It’s actually a purple wildflower that grows in Western Europe. Only very recently did scientists discover that echium oil from the plant’s seeds contains an omega-3 fat called stearidonic acid (SDA), which is the percusor for EPA. Echium oil also has other important fatty acids like the omega-6 GLA and the omega-9 oleic acid, which is responsible for its benefits to the cardiovascular system. Studies show that SDA and GLA can increase the levels of EPA in the blood stream more effectively than any fatty acid combination. Echium oil has just been approved for consumption in the UK and will soon spread to other countries.