The human body requires a balance of nutrients to remain healthy. Each nutrient and vitamin will play a role in developing a healthy body throughout our lives. A shortage of any one nutrient could be detrimental to your overall health and force you to find ways to compensate for these shortages.
One of the more important nutrients our bodies need is Omega-3 fatty acids. Unfortunately, despite being an essential nutrient, Omega-3 fatty acids are notoriously difficult to introduce to our systems unless we follow a specific diet. Typically, this diet requires us to consume a decent amount of fish to get the levels we need.
However, not everyone is keen on eating fish despite being the best source of Omega-3 fatty acids. There is nothing wrong with not enjoying the taste of fish, but it could make getting a healthy concentration of Omega-3 a bit challenging. Fortunately, there are sources of Omega-3 that will allow you to bypass fish entirely for something a little more palatable to your specific tastes. With this article, we hope to provide some guidance on ways to introduce Omega-3 fatty acids to your diet without consuming fish.
Why is Omega-3 Important?
Before we get into alternative sources of Omega-3 fatty acids, it might be prudent to discuss what makes them important. First, Omega-3 fatty acids are a good fat type that promotes a healthier body and cholesterol. Omega-3s also provide a few benefits that could help with certain physical conditions. It is also important to know that there are three major types of Omega-3 fatty acids that vary in their quality and benefits:
- Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA): ALA Omega-3 is the most common type of Omega-3 fatty acid but is also the least effective in human biology. The main point of ALA Omega-3 is to allow your body to convert it into one of the more effective Omega-3 acids, but the conversion has a lower yield than directly consuming the others.
- Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA): EPA Omega-3 is one of the two premium Omega-3 fatty acids that ALA is traditionally converted into. EPA offers some of the more significant health benefits of Omega-3 but comes with the caveat of only being found in seafood.
- Docosahexaenoic Acid (DPA): DPA Omega-3 is a structural Omega-3 acid that is on par with the importance of EPA. Like EPA, it is only found in seafood.
Depending on the type of Omega-3 you are ingesting, you will be able to reap a wide assortment of benefits. One of the most significant is that Omega-3 helps to overcome metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome can negatively affect our ability to drop weight as our bodies cannot process the calories we consume correctly. As a result, our cholesterol and body fat spike, and we become prone to specific health issues tied to obesity and low HDL levels.
However, Omega-3 fatty acids can offer some protection against these issues. Studies have correlated the consumption of Omega-3 fatty acids to improved insulin resistance and mitigating the factors leading to heart disease in those with metabolic syndrome. One of the primary reasons for this is that Omega-3 can combat inflammation. A poorly maintained metabolism can lead to inflammation, and inflammation that is not dealt with can lead to more severe health issues. Thankfully, Omega-3 can target and reduce the molecules that cause inflammation and prevent the rise of inflammatory problems like heart disease.
Another benefit afforded by Omega-3 fatty acids has more to do with cosmetic health rather than medical health. There have been studies that have connected EPA Omega-3 to skin health that can help you to retain healthier-looking skin. It does this by managing the rate at which your skin produces oil for hydration and preventing an abundance of keratin from being created. Excessive keratinization of the skin can lead to damaged hair follicles and severe acne. Omega-3 can control these issues to a certain extent, making it a viable cosmetic and physical health tool. However, this information surrounding Omega-3's benefits means little if you are not fully aware of its sources beyond fish.
Other Sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
While fish is the most effective source of Omega-3, this can pose a problem to those who are averse to the taste of fish or do not consume meat. Some alternatives can be just as viable for introducing Omega-3 fatty acids for those who are not keen on fish or their byproducts. The best part is that many other options are also vegan-friendly, making them ideal for those of us who subscribe to such a lifestyle.
The first option is flax seeds. Flax seeds are small and tend to be brown or yellow, and they are generally processed into oil. Flax seeds are also one of the best sources of ALA Omega-3, meaning you can easily enjoy the benefits of Omega-3 just by introducing flax seeds to your diet.
On average, flax seeds contain around 2,350 mg of Omega-3 per tablespoon of the seeds themselves. Flaxseed oil contains approximately 7,260 mg per tablespoon. Flax seeds also possess a remarkable Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio compared to similar products. This makes flax seeds one of the most effective alternatives to fish when looking to enhance your Omega-3 intake.
Another alternative is chia seeds. Chia seeds are a nutritious addition to any diet and can provide Omega-3 fatty acids at an impressive level. A single ounce of chia seeds contains 5,060 mg of Omega-3 and provides all 8 of the essential amino acids. This means that chia seeds can offer more Omega-3 for fewer seeds than whole flax seeds. We know that seeds are not exactly the most filling addition to your daily diet. Fortunately, there are still a few more options that can be a more substantial snack.
Our next option for Omega-3 intake is walnuts. In addition to being extraordinarily filling and delicious, walnuts are packed with vitamins and nutrients, including Omega-3 fatty acids. The only caveat is that you must eat the walnuts with the skin as the skin is the source of their phenol antioxidants which provide the most significant health benefits. As for the Omega-3 fatty acid content, approximately 14 halves of walnuts will yield 2,570 mg of Omega-3. This places walnuts just slightly above flax seeds but well below chia seeds.
Finally, if none of the others suit you, or you want just a bit more variety, there is always the option of introducing soybeans to your diet. Being a primary source of protein for those who object to meat consumption, soybeans are also packed with fatty acids our bodies need. Specifically, Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids are prevalent in soybeans, with a serving of 3.5 ounces bringing 1,443 mg of Omega-3.
There are plenty of sources of Omega-3 fatty acids that have nothing to do with fish. However, you should note that these sources will only provide ALA Omega-3, which is vastly inferior to EPA and DHA Omega-3. The only real purpose that ALA Omega-3 serves in human biology is to be converted into a small concentration of EPA Omega-3. However, if you are looking for a way to get the superior Omega-3 fatty acids, there is a final option that will still allow you to avoid fish.
While EPA and DHA Omega-3 are only found naturally in fish, there are tools to introduce them without consuming seafood. While supplements are manufactured to help overcome natural limitations, there are Omega-3 supplements made with natural ingredients that offer all of the benefits without consuming a single denizen of the deep. However, there will, at the most, be fish oil in the supplements to serve as the source of the EPA and DHA Omega-3.
Despite coming from fish as a byproduct, the fish oil used in supplements of this nature is practically tasteless, and you will likely not even be aware of the fish oil within. Of course, there will be exceptions where the fish oil taste is stronger due to the potency. In most cases, however, the supplements will also have flavorings to overpower the fish oil entirely and add additional benefits.
Omega-3 supplements are no different than an average supplement capsule and can be taken with a glass of water. So, there should be no issue when it comes to taking the supplement to enjoy the health benefits that Omega-3 fatty acids offer. That said, you will want to double-check the instructions for the supplement before taking them, so you know how many to take at once. However, you will likely only need to take 1 or 2 at a time to reap the benefits.
With Omega-3 supplements, you will thoroughly enjoy all of the previously discussed benefits of EPA and DHA. Through supplements, you can bypass having to eat a fish, but, more importantly, you will be able to overcome the issues with the non-fish sources of Omega-3. The ones we have discussed in this article can only provide ALA Omega-3 and are therefore ineffective in comparison.
However, you might want to keep an eye on the background of the supplement you are considering. Making sure your purchase is from a reputable vendor is paramount to ensuring that you are getting a safe product. Aside from this, the only other concern lies in how you will respond to a sudden intake of Omega-3 fatty acids.
Are There Side Effects From Omega-3?
Introducing a new compound to your body, including a healthy one like Omega-3, will likely bring some side effects. In the case of Omega-3, the side effects will result from your biology and how effectively you can process the Omega-3 rather than an issue inherent in the fatty acids themselves. It will also depend on you not consuming too much Omega-3 in one sitting if you want to minimize the likelihood of experiencing these side effects yourself.
Omega-3 supplements and the acids themselves have very few side effects. However, there are a few that you will need to take note of. Namely, you might experience nausea or loose stool after the sudden introduction of Omega-3 to your system. In some lower-quality supplements, you might also experience a more pungent taste of fish when taking the supplement unless the supplement uses flavoring or other ingredients to overpower the flavor. You will also want to make sure that you never take more than the prescribed dosage of Omega-3 relative to your health.
There have been reports of people who take more than 3 grams of fish oil supplements daily experiencing a risk of bleeding. For this reason, you should always consult with a physician before introducing a supplement to your daily routine to assess your tolerance. This way, your doctor can address any potential health conflicts, and you will be able to enhance your Omega-3 intake safely. There are fewer known side effects of vegetable-based Omega-3 intake, but the lack of benefits from consuming ALA Omega-3 makes it an uneven trade-off.
Once you have taken all the necessary steps to assess your tolerance for Omega-3 fatty acids, you are ready to start taking the next step. Acquiring a reliable DHA or EPA Omega-3 fatty acids source is the most important step in enhancing your health. While the many vegetables and seeds we have discussed can be of assistance, they will yield lower returns for the beneficial Omega-3 variants and ultimately be more costly. Therefore, you might be better off purchasing an Omega-3 supplement that offers DHA and EPA while working to overpower the taste of fish oil.
Keep it All Natural
Omega-3 fatty acids are a significant and beneficial substance found only in a few products. However, knowing that only two of the three main types are effective makes it impossible to introduce it without fish. In addition, while certain vegetables might be able to provide a slight concentration of the critical Omega-3 types, they are nowhere near as effective as taking advantage of fish oil.
We know that taking a fish oil supplement might not be the most attractive option to get more Omega-3 in your diet, but it is the most efficient alternative to simply eating fish directly. Finding the ideal supplement can be a challenge since the fish oil taste can be overpowering if not adequately tempered and might put you off from giving them a chance. However, there is a solution.
We at Bella All Natural believe in a holistic approach to every health and beauty issue that might affect you and your loved ones. Our stance on Omega-3 is no different. We believe that the answer to supplementing your Omega-3 levels can be dealt with naturally, even when using a supplement capsule.
We offer a supplement that provides EPA and DHA Omega-3 using fish oil. However, we use garlic to ensure that the flavor of the fish oil is not a problem while also compounding the benefits of garlic with the Omega-3. So, if you need natural Omega-3 supplements, check out our website today and see if ours is what you had in mind. And remember to keep it All Natural!