5 Vegetarian Sources of Omega-3

Anamika Kumari

The increasing popularity of omega-3 fatty acids derived from vegetarian sources is undeniable. 

This is especially true when research from the World Health Organization (WHO) explicitly reiterates the efficacy of this class of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) for cardiovascular, neural, and prenatal health.

However, vegetarian sources are primarily rich in just one fatty acid: alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Human biology is capable of converting only some ALA into docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), the omega-3’s which confers vital health benefits. Approximately 8% to 10% of the ALA is converted by enzymes into EPA while 1% to 9% is converted into DHA.

Excessive intake of omega-6, a vitamin- and mineral-deficient diet, unhealthy life choices, advanced age, and high levels of insulin are a few factors that can interfere with this conversion. After plenty of data-sorting and research, here are five sources, exclusive of any marine elements, that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids.

Canola seeds

This breed of rapeseed gets its name from the Canadian researchers who developed it and the word “ola,” which means “oil” in Gaelic. Oil obtained from canola seeds is marketed as the healthiest and criticized by experts for its supposed disadvantages.

The fact remains that modern canola crops are low in the harmful erucic acid and glucosinolates. Around 28% of canola oil is composed of PUFA and approximately 11% of ALA. Naturally processed and cold-pressed canola oil is a great source of omega-3’s minus the toxic components usually associated with them.

Flax seeds

Flax seeds are known to have the highest ALA content, which is around 57% when compared to other vegetable sources. Traditional Camelina sativa, or false flax, has been growing in global fields for ages. As prescribed by dietitians, one tablespoon of flaxseed is recommended per 100 pounds of weight. With a 6,000 mg ALA content, it can deliver up to 1,200 mg (approximate) of EPA and 240 mg (approximate) of DHA.

Pumpkin seeds

Pumpkin seeds, commonly used in Mexican cuisine, rank highly among the list of terrestrial sources for omega-3 and omega-6. With a high ALA content and 0.04 g of omega-3 fatty acids, they are a reliable dietary supplement to maintain good cardiovascular and mental health. At the same time, consumers need to track daily dosage to prevent excessive intake of omega-6.

Soybean oil

Soybean oil is known to have a minimum of 7% alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) content. Derived from an annual dicotyledonous plant, it is one of the most commonly used cooking oils in the world.


Walnuts offer a whopping 117% (approximate) omega-3 fatty acids. There is enough evidence to support the claim that daily consumption of walnuts in small quantities provides the body with more than enough ALA. It directly reduces the risks of CVDs in adults.

Health experts report that black walnuts tend to have a higher omega-3 content as compared to their English counterparts. However, when studied for their cardio-protective nature, English walnuts exhibited a more positive effect on endothelial function in people on a high-saturated-fat diet.

The Bottom Line

They may never be an exact replacement for fish-oil, but research suggests that these trending vegetarian sources of omega-3 are ready to enter commercial platforms in 2017.

About the Author

Anamika Kumari is a Level II Content Writer at Allied Analytics LLP. She has pursued her bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering, and is certified in industrial automation. She is deeply fascinated by the impact of modern technology on human life and the earth at large. A voracious reader, passionate writer, and a critical observer of market dynamics, she has a strong taste for the hidden science behind all arts.


  1. https://www.alliedmarketresearch.com/omega-3-market
  2. http://www.alligga.com/conversion-of-ala-into-epa-and-dha/
  3. http://www.fda.gov/food/foodscienceresearch/geplants/submissions/ucm314244.htm


Ella @ToDiets.com said...

Omega 3 makes up cell membranes, keeps the nervous system functioning. Thank you, I am in vegan diets and learning ,this helps me to know what to eat and what to get!

Life Extension said...

Ella @ToDiets.com - You're right, omega-3s have many benefits to our health! We're glad you enjoyed the post- thanks for stopping by our blog!

Rugile Rarelyte said...

Yes, Omega-3s are essential to all of us! And we don't always get as much as we need. I'm a bit unsure about my diet, is there any omega-3 tests in laboratory medicine clinics where it's possible to check if I get enough og omega-3? I know about lipid tests but never heard about this specific one and it would be really useful I think...

Post a Comment

All Contents Copyright © 1995-2016 Life Extension® All rights reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Use
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
The information provided on this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other health care professional or any information contained on or in any product label or packaging. You should not use the information on this site for diagnosis or treatment of any health problem or for prescription of any medication or other treatment. You should consult with a healthcare professional before starting any diet, exercise or supplementation program, before taking any medication, or if you have or suspect you might have a health problem. You should not stop taking any medication without first consulting your physician.