If you love your nuts and seeds and are hoping to use them to get a leg up on your omega 3 fatty acid intake, we’ve got good news! When it comes to dietary sources of omega 3 fatty acids, nuts and seeds are among the top contenders besides fatty fish. They are also easy to add to your diet, whether eaten raw or roasted.
Omega 3 fatty acids may improve your lipid profile, lower blood pressure, and cut inflammation. Of these, ALA, derived from plant sources, has been linked to reduced heart disease-linked deaths. It could also help if you have asthma, decreasing inflammation as well improving lung function.1
But not all nuts and seeds are equally good when it comes to omega 3 fatty acids even if they may be really nutritious or healthy otherwise. While some like walnuts or flaxseeds pack in plenty of omega 3 fatty acids, others contain just a fraction of what these have. Here’s separating the good from the really good on the omega 3 front!
- Adult men: 1.6 gm of ALA daily
- Adult women: 1.1 gm of ALA daily
- Pregnant women: 1.4 gm of ALA daily
- Breastfeeding mothers: 1.3 gm of ALA daily 2
1. English Walnuts
Walnuts rank pretty high for a lot of nutrients, including omega 3 content. Each ounce of the nuts (about 7 whole walnuts) has 2.57 gm ALA.3 You can easily meet your daily ALA intake by having just half that amount of walnuts.
Use your walnuts as a roasted, spiced snack for when the munchies strike. Or put them in cakes and home-baked bread, have them in salads, scatter a few over your oatmeal, or add some to smoothies. Don’t overdo the walnut intake, though, as they contain a whopping 18.49 gm of fat per ounce.4 They can also be hard to digest if you consume them raw. Roast or pre-soak the nuts to reduce the phytates and tannins that may hamper mineral absorption and make digestion of the nuts harder.
Flaxseed-dotted breads and muffins can be quite delicious thanks to the added crunch and texture the tiny seeds bring. A tablespoon of the flaxseeds, whole, contains 2.35 gm of ALA.5 You could even play around with them in crumbs for your breaded chicken or meat recipes or use them for texture in creamy salads. Vegans can even use flaxseeds as substitutes for egg in baking.
3. Chia Seeds
Chia seeds with their gelatinous yet addictive feel go down a treat in creamy milk or non-dairy milk based chia puddings with fruit or honey. Soak these seeds overnight and watch them swell, making them both filling and delicious. You could also add them to your oatmeal or use the roasted seeds in homemade granola bars or muffins. An ounce of the seeds offers 5.055 gm of ALA.6
Also called the white walnut, butternuts are native to the United States and Canada. An ounce of these nuts has 2.472 gm of ALA.7 You can use them in regular walnut recipes, but the oval-shaped white nuts are especially heavenly in ice cream or puddings. You can crush them into sauces, breads, or even mashed potatoes!
id="5-black-walnuts">5. Black Walnuts
Black walnuts are stronger-flavored variants of the decidedly mild English walnut and contain 0.759 gm of ALA per ounce serving.8 The earthy flavor of these nuts pairs wonderfully well with sweet ingredients, so get them into those brownies or blondies, pies, cookies, and breads. If you enjoy their robust flavor, you could swap regular English walnuts with these black walnuts in any recipe.
6. Mustard Seeds
Dot your curries with mustard seeds, pickle them up in relishes, or grind them to make dressings and seasoning for your meals. There’s 0.239 gm of ALA in a tablespoon of the ground seeds.9 Mustard seeds work especially well as tempering for Indian inspired stir-fries or lentil curries called dals. Their warm and pungent flavor can perk up any recipe instantly.
Pecans too contain omega 3 fatty acids, though not as much as walnuts. There’s 0.280 gm of ALA in 1 ounce (19 halves) of pecans.10 Honey roasted or spiced pecans are a simple way to enjoy the nuts. You could also try a fragrant fennel and spinach soup with pecans added in for creaminess. Or stuff peppers with goat’s cheese and pecan and some herbs. How about blitzing up pecans with dates and chocolate for some homemade ice cream … the options are indeed endless!
id="omega-3-content-of-other-nuts-and-seeds">Omega 3 Content Of Other Nuts And Seeds
What about the veritable army of other seeds and nuts that normally hit highs on most nutrients – how do they fare in the omega 3 line-up? As it turns out, while many of them are indeed nutrient-rich, they don’t necessarily have omega 3 fatty acids in very high amounts. Here’s a look at how some popular nuts and seeds stack up.
- Cashew nuts contain 0.046 gm ALA per ounce.11
- Almonds have a mere 0.002 gm of ALA per ounce.12
- Peanuts are even lower on the omega 3 count, with just 0.001 gm per ounce.13
- Pine nuts contain 0.032 gm per ounce, which means their ALA content is evident only when you’re having a lot of them.14
- Sunflower seeds kernels have 0.020 gm of ALA per ounce.15
- Pumpkin seeds have 0.034 gm of ALA per ounce of kernels.16
- Sesame seeds have 0.034 gm of ALA in 1 tablespoon.17
The quantum of omega 3 fatty acids in these nuts and seeds is really small and you’d need to have a lot of them to help meet your ALA intake for the day. So use them alongside the more ALA-rich nuts and seeds in this list or with other vegetarian or fish-based sources of omega 3 fatty acids.
|↑1||Alpha-linolenic acid. University of Maryland Medical Center.|
|↑2||Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Office of Dietary Supplements.|
|↑3||Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Office of Dietary Supplements.|
|↑4||Nuts, walnuts, english.
|↑5||Seeds, flaxseed. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑6||Seeds, chia seeds, dried. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑7||Nuts, butternuts, dried. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑8||Nuts, walnuts, black, dried. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑9||Spices, mustard seed, ground.
|↑10||Nuts, pecans. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑11||Nuts, cashew nuts, dry roasted, without salt added. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑12||Nuts, almonds, dry roasted, without salt added. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑13||Peanuts, all types, raw. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑14||Nuts, pine nuts, dried.
|↑15||Seeds, sunflower seed kernels, dried. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑16||Seeds, pumpkin and squash seed kernels, dried. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑17||Seeds, sesame seeds, whole, dried. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|