Fish oil is high in demand nowadays because it contains high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids (also called as essential fatty acids), required in every level of cellular and body functions. A deficiency of essential fatty acids serves as an open invitation for life-threatening disorders such as stroke, heart disease, and diabetes. The thing with omega-3 fatty acids is that these polyunsaturated fats are required to keep the vital organs such as heart, joints, eyes, and brain healthy and properly functioning. Since our body cannot make omega-3 fatty acids on its own, we have to rely on dietary sources such as fish, nuts, and seeds, eggs, and certain vegetables. While there are many sources of omega-3 fatty acids in vegetarian and vegan food sources, they may not supply all three types of omega-3 fatty acids (EPA, DHA, and ALA together). Alpha linoeic acid is predominantly the type of omega-3 fatty acids available through most vegetarian sources, and that’s why it becomes necessary to explore fish oil vegetarian substitutes because fish oil supplies all three forms of omega-3 fatty acids such as ALA, DHA, and EPA. But for strict vegetarians, taking fish oil is not an option at all. In this post, we would list out fish oil substitutes for vegetarians. But first, let’s find out what fish oil does for the human body.
Benefits of Taking Fish Oil/Omega-3 Fatty Acids:
Omega-3 fatty acids are a group of polyunsaturated fatty acids which are necessary for normal and smooth functioning of body functions and for metabolism. For healthy brain, heart, and other vital organs, a good amount of omega-3 fatty acids is necessary through our daily diet. Fish oil supplement is widely used for overall beauty and health benefits. Fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids, which is excellent for many health and beauty issues. It imparts excellent cardiovascular health and even prevents some diseases. A lot of celebrities too swear by the goodness of this supplement. Additionally, omega-3 fatty acids do these things for our body:
1. Aids weight loss – helps reduce waist circumference and shed extra kilos.
2. Helps with anxiety and depression.
3. Treats arthritis.
4. Improves bone health.
5. Improves heart health.
6. Great for eyes and good vision.
7. Boosts physical and mental health.
8. Fights inflammation in the body, helps prevent heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
9. Great for smooth and clear skin.
10. Good for healthy hair.
Types of Omega-3 Fatty Acids:
There are three main types of omega-3 fatty acids – ALA (alpha linolenic acid), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). While most vegetarian sources such as nuts and seeds are good sources of ALA, they lack DHA and EPA. Fatty fish such as salmon, trout, tuna, herring, sardines are rich sources of DHA and EPA, and that’s why fish and fish oil are preferred by a majority of people. However, EPA and DHA play major role in preventing inflammation in the body, and they are the most sough-after forms of omega-3 fatty acids.
Why Fish Oil is Preferred Over other Sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids?
As mentioned above, though a lot of plant sources provide ALA omega-3 fatty acids, fish oil provides all three, EPA, DHA, and ALA. Also, vegetarian sources of omega-3 fatty acids such as nuts and seeds also supply the body with omega-6 fatty acids which raise the inflammation level in the body. Although ALA is definitely a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, it can’t quite touch the benefits of fish and that’s why, fish oil is a great option. However, some of us who do not eat fish or generally dislike fish oil, would like to have other options available that would provide benefits equivalent to fish oil without the additional baggage of omega-6 fatty acids.
Plant/Vegetarian Substitutes of Fish Oil:
1. Flaxseed Oil: Contains ALA, helps with weight loss. Fights cellulite. Improves the texture of skin. Promotes heart health. Prevents dry eye syndrome.
2. Chia Seeds: Good source of fiber, improves cholesterol, rich in healthy fats. Good source of protein, calcium, potassium, iron, and antioxidants. Aids weight loss, reduces inflammation in the body.
3. Soy Oil: Main source of omega-3 fatty acids in soy oil is ALA.
4. Canola Oil: Main source of omega-3 fatty acids in soy oil is ALA.
5. Leafy Green Vegetables: Main source of omega-3 fatty acids in soy oil is ALA.
6. Kidney Beans: Main source of omega-3 fatty acids in soy oil is ALA.
7. Hemp Seed Oil: Main source of omega-3 fatty acids in soy oil is ALA.
8. Algae Oil: It’s the most popular equivalent to fish oil. It’s an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, has all three omega-3 fatty acids such as DHA, EPA, and ALA. For vegetarians, seaweed and algae are great news since they have all the benefits of fish oil.
9. Egg yolk: Though not a vegan source, most vegetarians do not mind consuming eggs, and that’s why egg yolks are a good source of omega-3 foods with all three forms, DHA, EPA, and ALA.
10. Spirulina: Rich source of antioxidants and also GLA (gamma linolenic acid), and also EPA and DHA. Also a great source of protein. Rich in vitamins and minerals. It’s a superfood, aids weight loss. Lowers risk of cancer and other metabolic disorders.
11. Seaweed: Provides all three omega-3 fatty acids – DHA, EPA, and ALA. Rich source of vitamins and minerals, boosts weight loss. Rich source of antioxidants, helps to get clear skin.
12. Chlorella: Provides all three omega-3 fatty acids – DHA, EPA, and ALA. Boosts immune system, tackles inflammation, reduces the risk of cancer. Boosts weight loss. Regulates blood pressure and sugar level.
Recommended Dose of Omega-3 Fatty Acids:
500 milligrams to 1,000 milligrams of the long-chained omega-3 fats, DHA and EPA, daily
Rounding up, algae oil, seaweed, chlorella, and spirulina are vegetarian substitutes for fish oil.