Sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Besides fatty fish, nuts and seeds are the other top dietary sources of omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3 fatty acids can improve the lipid profile, reduce blood pressure, and decrease inflammation. These nuts and seeds can be eaten raw or roasted and added to the diet. Nuts and seeds contain healthy doses of the omega 3 fatty acid called Alpha-linolenic acid or ALA. The ALA, derived from plant sources, has been linked to decreased heart disease-related deaths. Alpha-linolenic acid present in nuts and seeds is also helpful in relieving asthma, improving lung function and decreasing inflammation.
Recommended Intake for Omega-3 Fatty Acids
While there is no set daily value or recommended intake for omega 3 fatty acids, there is one for alpha-linolenic acid. While adult men need to have 1.6 g of ALA daily, adult women on the other hand need to consume 1.1 g ALA every day. Pregnant women and breast feeding mothers should daily have 1.4 g and 1.3 g of ALA, respectively.
Nuts and Seeds that are High in Omega-3
It should be remembered that all nuts and seeds are not good sources of omega 3 fatty acids, even if they are healthy and nutritious. Want to know which nuts are high in omega 3? Following is list of nuts which are high in omega 3 fatty acid:
Walnuts are packed with loads of nutrients, including omega-3 fatty acids. About 1 oz of these nuts, i.e. around 7 whole walnuts, contains 2.57 gm of ALA. The RDI of ALA can be met just by having half of this amount. Walnuts can be consumed as a roasted, spiced snack, or be scattered over oatmeal, or even be added in cakes, home-baked bread, salads, or smoothies. However, excess intake of walnut should be avoided, as these nuts contain a whopping 18.49 g of fat per ounce. Walnuts can be hard to digest if consumed raw. They should be roasted or pre-soaked to reduce the phytates and tannins, which can hamper the mineral absorption to make the digestion of walnuts harder.
Flaxseeds are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. About 1 tbsp of whole flaxseeds contains 2.35 gm of ALA. When added in foods like breads, muffins, creamy salads, breaded chicken or meat dishes, these tiny crunchy seeds enhance their flavour and texture. Flaxseeds can also be used as a substitute of egg in baking.
Chia seeds are high in omega-3 fatty acids. With their gelatinous yet addictive feel, Chia seeds go well in creamy milk or non-dairy milk based chia puddings with honey or fruit. When soaked overnight, chia seeds swell and become more filling and delicious. Roasted chia seeds can be added in oatmeal, homemade granola bars or muffins to enhance their taste. About 1 oz of chia seeds contains around 5.055 gm of ALA.
Also known as white walnut, butternuts originated in Canada and United States and are high in omega-3 fatty acids. About 1 oz of these nuts contains 2.472 gm of ALA. Butternuts can be used in regular walnut recipes, or can be added in puddings and ice creams to make them more delicious. These oval-shaped white nuts can also be crushed and added into breads, sauces or even mashed potatoes to increase your intake of omega-3 fatty acids.
A stronger-flavoured variant of the mild English walnut, Black walnuts are high in omega-3 fatty acids and contain 0.759 g of ALA per ounce serving. The earthy flavour of Black walnuts blends wonderfully well with sweet ingredients, so they should be added to pies, brownies, cookies and breads to enhance their taste. People who enjoy the robust flavour of black walnuts can swap regular English walnuts with them in any recipe.
The pungent and warm flavour of mustard seeds can instantly perk up any recipe and what’s more, mustard seeds are high in omega-3 fatty acids too. Mustard seeds can be added in curries and relishes, or its powder can be sprinkled as dressings and seasoning on meals. About 1 tbsp of ground mustard seeds contains around 0.239 g of ALA.
Although not as much as walnuts, but Pecans too contain omega 3 fatty acids. About 0.280 gm of ALA is present in 1 oz, i.e. nearly 19 halves, of pecans. Spiced or honey roasted pecans are a simple way to enjoy these nuts. Pecans can also be added to soups for giving them a creamy texture, or combined with dates and chocolate to make some delicious homemade ice creams.
Omega-3 Content of Other Nuts & Seeds
Many other seeds and nuts, which are high on most nutrients, do not necessarily contain omega-3 fatty acids in very high amounts. For instance, an ounce of cashew nuts, almonds, peanuts, pine nuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds or sesame seeds contains 0.046 g, 0.002 g, 0.001 g, 0.032 g, 0.034 g, 0.020 g and 0.034 g of ALA respectively. The amount of omega 3 in these nuts and seeds is quite small, but one does not need to have a lot of them to meet their recommended daily ALA requirement. These nuts and seeds should be consumed along with other more ALA-rich, nuts and seeds and fish-based or vegetarian sources.
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