one green planet
one green planet

Health Benefits

Omega 3 and Omega 6 are the two main categories of Essential Fatty Acids, or EFAs. They are considered “essential” because they are not made by the human body, and thus must be obtained either from foods or supplements. Omega 9s are an important third class of omegas, but they are not considered essential, as they can be produced by the body.

In general, essential fatty acids are important for proper cardiovascular, immune, nervous, and reproductive system functioning. They also play a critical role in the formation and functioning of cell membranes throughout the body.

In particular, omega 3s have been shown to help decrease inflammation and inflammatory responses; protect the body’s nerves and eyesight; reduce cardiovascular disease risk; and improve learning, thinking, memory, and cognition.

Many Americans are deficient in omega 3s, which are primarily found in coldwater fish, flax seeds and oil, walnuts, spirulina, leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, and other nuts and seeds. All these foods (minus the fish) are great vegan sources of omega 3 fatty acids.

Omega 6s have been shown to help defend the body against cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, eczema, psoriasis, diabetic neuropathy and even PMS! Unfortunately, though, many of us are getting too much of a good thing, at least relatively speaking.

Many people over-consume omega 6s relative to omega 3s, namely due to the limited types of oils used (and over-consumed) in processed foods. Over-consumption of omega 6s can increase inflammation throughout the body – an important risk factor for chronic diseases like cancer, diabetes, stroke, and heart disease.

Omega 9 fatty acids protect against heart disease and certain cancers, and can easily be obtained through olives and olive oil, avocados, and most types of nuts.

The recommended ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 intake is somewhere between 1:1 and 1:4. Most Western diets fall closer to 16:1!

DEVA is one of the most popular brands of vegan omega supplements, and offers a number of different options. Their algae-derived Omega-3 DHAOmega-3 DHA supplement with EPA.

Vegan Flaxseed OilDEVA’s Chia Seed Oil capsules are another excellent source of omega 3, 6 and 9, and bring many of the additional health benefits of chia seeds!

Ovega-3’s DHA + EPALife ExtensionSuper Omega-3, which also contains DHA and EPA. These capsules are enteric coated for easier digestion, and contain beneficial sesame lignans and olive fruit extract.

Minami Nutrition also makes a DHA supplement in a vegan, orange-flavored softgel. It contains 320mg total Omega-3s and 300mg DHA per serving.

Barlean’s Total Omega 3-6-9 Vegan Swirl. The vegan version comes in a delicious Pomegranate Blueberry flavor described as having the taste and texture of a fruit smoothie.

Image Credit: hitthatswitch/Flickr