These are two families of unsaturated fatty acids which the human body is unable to create on its own. That means it is essential to get these substances from foods. The
When ALA are consumed, the body converts small amounts to different fatty acids, called EPA and DHA. These are important for brain development and eye function. They also protect against cardiac risks and may offer protection from Alzheimer’s disease, depression and osteoporosis.
Because LA and ALA use similar pathways in the body, consuming much larger amounts of LA in relation to ALA may limit the synthesis of EPA. This makes it important to include sources of omega-3 in your diet, especially if you are pregnant or lactating.
The best sources of omega-3 are chia seeds, ground flaxseed, flaxseed oil, and canola oil. Additional sources include hemp seed oil, walnuts, and, to a lesser extent, soybeans and leafy green vegetables. It is also possible to get these fatty acids from algae-derived supplements.
Omega-6 is much more abundant and can be found in almost every oil, seed, and nut. High-LA oils such as safflower, sunflower, cottonseed, corn and soybean oils are usually found in processed foods, so limiting your intake of processed products will help lower your LA consumption to achieve a healthy balance.
Try our Chia pudding recipe for a vegan Omega-3 rich dessert.