Omega-3-Fatty Acids: Plant vs. Animal Sources, What’s the difference?!
We eat walnuts, flaxseed, and chia seeds because of their high levels of heart-healthy Omega-3 fatty acids, but do these plant-based sources compare to Salmon and other seafood? The answer is…NO. Omega-3’s from plants are in the form of ALA. Animal sources like fish oil, contain EPA and DHA. ALA needs to go through an inefficient process in our bodies to get converted to EPA, and then to DHA. Our body needs DHA for brain, eye, and heart function and development. Essentially all the omega-3 fats in our brains are DHA, and the retina is 60% full of DHA! Getting enough DHA has been shown to improve depression as well. Unfortunately, even high intakes of ALA from plant sources will not increase the amount of DHA in your body by much.
Best sources of DHA include wildcaught salmon, anchovies, and sardines. If eating canned fish, remember to look for LOW to NO sodium.
Suggestion for Vegetarians: Increase your daily intake of DHA by consuming 1 omega-3 egg a day, or other fortified milk or soy milk products.
This information converted me back to pescatarian-ism after months of being vegetarian and wanting to continue being meat-free. To me, my choices in life are based on limiting as much harm as possible. Although I now consume seafood and therefore support catching and killing wild salmon and other fish, I can work harder in other aspects of my life to balance it out with good works.
Information from BIBC 120: Biochemistry of Nutrition (college class) and http://www.dhaomega3.org/Scientific-Overview-of-Omega-3