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. 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; however, before you go and reach for a supplement, I encourage you to eat more foods high in omega 3s! These recipes will help you do just that.
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 List
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.
This is one of the ten recipes I developed for my friends at Planet Hemp Superfood; these croquettes are handheld comfort food, packed with nutrition! Enjoy them as a snack or try bringing them to your next potluck. They also make a great handheld food for little eaters.
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.
This soup is the perfect way to warm up on a cold day. It’s silky-smooth and sooo comforting. Perfect for the parsnip skeptics in the crowd.
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.
I’ve never been so excited about a side dish in my life – this pilaf is hearty, flavourful and so nutrient-dense you’ll be energized for hours!
These cookies can be enjoyed at any time of the day: breakfast, snack, dessert, you name it! By eating these cookies, you can ensure you are getting sources of omega-3 rich foods flax seed and hemp hearts.
Looking for a nut-free replacement for peanut butter? Well look no further. This butter is thick and luscious, making it perfect for toast or baked goods. Hemp packs in the omega 3 fats, while pumpkin seeds boost fibre and gut-loving zinc.
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.
I love efficiency in the morning…and this recipe takes care of your caffeine + breakfast needs at once!. The matcha is an anti-inflammatory food in its own right, and this tastes like your fave matcha latte.
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.
This chia fresca recipe is inspired by the traditional Mexican drink and is one of my favourite flavour combinations. The perfect warm weather cooler!
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.
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.
These fritters have a nice crunchy outside and soft, melting texture on the inside. They are versatile and a great addition to any meal. Try having them as a side with your next soup or using it as part of your next sandwich filling. You may be surprised that this recipe contains the omega-3 rich food flax seed!
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!