cut watermelon, mint and lime

Omega 3 fatty acids are not just an important part of an anti-inflammatory diet – they are actually a daily necessity for every human on the planet. These recipes will help you get more of this essential fatty acid into your diet!

As a dietitian in plant-based nutrition, I see a lot of confusion about omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3 fatty acids are what we call an essential nutrient, meaning that our body cannot make omega 3 fat so it needs to receive a daily supply from our diet. Most of us could probably use a bit more omega 3 in our life so, I’ve created an in depth list of vegan omega 3 sources. These recipes will make it easy to enjoy more omega 3 rich foods in your daily diet. Need more? Eat More Plants Cookbook, which has a focus on anti-inflammatory recipes, also talks in depth about omega 3 fatty acids and offers recipes using omega 3 rich foods.

Why is it important to eat foods high in Omega 3s?

Omega-3 fatty acids are a special type of polyunsaturated fatty acids that are thought to impact brain, eye and heart health as well as contributing to inflammatory status. There are three common forms of omega-3 fatty acids found in food, with alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) being the primary omega 3 found in plant foods. EPA and DHA are found in algae or marine sources.

We don’t need much omega 3 everyday – a woman needs 1.1 grams of ALA daily and a man needs 1.6 grams. The challenge is that there aren’t a lot of foods rich in omega 3s in our food supply.

Omega 3 Food Sources

Omega 3 fatty acids are primarily found in seeds and cold water fatty fish; there are smaller amounts in other seafood, edamame, refried beans and trace amounts in some other beans and greens. But these are the sources that will get you what you need.

  • Flax seeds (1 tbsp/15ml ground) 1.6 g ALA
  • Flax seeds (1 tbsp/15ml whole) 2.4 g ALA
  • Flaxseed oil (1 tsp/15ml) 2.5 g ALA
  • Chia seeds (1 tbsp/15ml) 1.9 g ALA
  • Hemp seeds (1 tbsp/15ml) 0.85 g ALA
  • Walnuts (1/4 cup/60ml halves) 2.3 g ALA
  • Canola oil (1 tbsp/15ml) 1.28 g ALA
  • Fatty fish
    • 3 ounces (85g) wild salmon = 1.22 g DHA and 0.35 g EPA
    • 3 ounces (85g) mackerel = 0.58 g DHA and 0.43 g EPA
    • 3 ounces (85g) herring = 0.94 g DHA and 0.77 g EPA

* note: I do not recommend you use canola oil unless expeller pressed and organic, and then only in small amounts due to its omega 6 content. 

Omega-3 Rich Food Recipes

Because I’m a plant-based gal, we are going to focus on eating more omega 3-rich seeds. I love using chia, hemp and flax because they are affordable and so easy to incorporate into your daily life.
You are probably most familiar adding seeds to oats, yogurt or a smoothie…but the possibilities really are endless! These recipes will help you get creative in adding more foods rich in omega 3s to your life. Now that’s plant power.

Hemp Recipes

jar of hemp milk

Nourishing Hemp Seed Milk Recipe

5 from 3 ratings
This creamy, nutrient-dense hemp seed milk takes just 3 minutes to make! No soaking or straining. Allergy friendly, protein-rich and packed with omega 3 fatty acids.
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A jar of hemp seeds beside a piece of toast spread with seed butter

Super Seed Butter

5 from 2 ratings
Thick, luscious seed butter made from iron-rich hemp and pumpkin seeds is perfect for toast, baked goods and more! And because it's nut free, you can pack it to school.
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breakfast cookies on wire rack

Breakfast Cookies

4.92 from 25 ratings
These vegan, gluten free + low FODMAP breakfast cookies are SO delicious and make a truly nutrient-dense start to a busy day. Ready in just 30 minutes!
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Creamy Cauliflower Hemp Alfredo Sauce by Making Thyme for Health

This sauce uses the surprising ingredients of cauliflower and hemp seeds to create a creamy and comforting meal. Add some extra roasted veggies, to boost the fibre and flavour of the dish.

Lentil Quinoa Hemp Seed Meatballs by Feed Your Beauty

This recipe is inspired by the traditional flavours of Italian meatballs, but with a vegan twist. Try them with your favourite pasta dish or on their own with a veggie side.

healthy vegan peanut butter cookies on white plate

Vegan Peanut Butter Hemp Cookies

5 from 4 ratings
The healthy but doesn't taste healthy kind of cookie to enjoy at any time of the day! Adapted from a Foodie52 recipe https://flourist.com/blogs/recipes/peanut-butter-rye-cookies
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Chia Recipes

Matcha Chia Pudding with Mango and Coconut

The ultimate on-the-go breakfast! Just 5 minutes to make this matcha chia pudding with mango and coconut, packed with fiber and anti-inflammatory!
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Watermelon Mint Chia Fresca

5 from 1 rating
Watermelon is great to help prevent UV damage, so enjoy this refreshing drink in the warm summer weather!
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Mixed Nut and Seed Crackers from Bon Appetit

This recipe earns bonus points with two omega-3 rich foods: chia AND flax seeds. They’re a great dupe for Mary’s Organic Crackers. Make this ahead of time to enjoy as a snack throughout the week. Making your own crackers is easier than you might expect! And if you want an even easier recipe, I’ve got a perfect one in Eat More Plants Cookbook.

Overnight Chocolate Chia Seed Pudding by Minimalist Baker

Waking up to breakfast already made is a win in my books, not to mention breakfast that tastes like dessert! Overnight recipes are great for people that need breakfast on the go, as you can grab and run in the morning. Make sure to top it with some fruit (bananas or berries would be good), to ensure you are getting a serving of fruits.

Almost Instant Chia Jam by Walder Wellness

Don’t think you can make your own jam? You might be surprised at how easy it is. This recipe helps you make the most of whatever seasonal produce you have on hand and turns jam into an omega 3-rich treat.

Flax Recipes

zucchini fritters on parchment paper

Baked Zucchini Fritters with Lemon and Basil

4.43 from 33 ratings
These flavourful and healthy zucchini fritters are made with nutrient-dense chickpea flour, and baked instead of fried. They have a light and crisp shelling and melting texture inside. Enjoy them as a snack, a sandwich filling or side dish.
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Life-Changing Loaf of Bread from My New Roots

If you haven’t tried this nut and seed-rich bread yet, you’re in for a treat! It’s SO nutrient-dense and filling, packs in a whopping 1/2 cup of flax and is perfect with a bit of chia jam.

Flaxseed Wrappers by Sweet as Honey

These wrappers are a great alternative to use for traditional flour wrappers for your burritos, quesadillas and lunch wraps. The recipe lists optional spices but adding these will add another dimension to your wrap.

Carrot Apple Muffins from Minimalist Baker

Ground flax makes an excellent egg replacer, making it easy to work flax into your favourite muffin recipes. These muffins have plenty of veggies and a little omega 3 boost from the walnuts too.

A big thank you to my students, Melanie Newman and Megan Leong, for helping me put this post together!