There are three main types of Omega-3 fatty acids: EPA, DHA, and ALA. However, only two of these have been linked to the whole-body health benefits of Omega-3s like heart health, cognitive ability, and vision. Those are the EPA and DHA types of Omega-3s. You may know that fish is the best source of these two Omega-3s. But if you don’t eat fish, you may be wondering how you can get Omega-3s from other foods, such as nuts. Knowing which kinds of Omega-3s and how much can be found in nuts can help you make informed decisions about your healthy diet.
What is ALA Omega-3?
ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) is an Omega-3 that is found in plants, such as tree nuts, algae, leafy greens, and beans. But ALA isn’t super beneficial on its own without EPA and DHA. This is because our bodies have to convert ALA to EPA and DHA in order to use it. The conversion rate to DHA and EPA from ALA is low and inefficient. In other words, ALA alone isn’t really enough because it will not give you enough of the recommended EPA and DHA intake you need for a healthy diet. Most health organizations around the world recommend a daily combined EPA and DHA intake in the range of 250 to 500 mg.
Therefore, if you don’t get enough DHA and EPA to begin with, then eating more nuts will not increase your DHA and EPA significantly. You might want to consider a supplement, such as Antarctic krill oil, in order to get the recommended amount of EPA and DHA Omega-3s.
Note: Just because nuts are not a reliable source of DHA and EPA doesn’t mean nuts aren’t a vital part of a healthy diet. There are many health benefits to eating nuts in moderation. Nuts also contain other nutrients such as Vitamin E, Fiber, plant sterols, and L-arginine.
What is EPA?
EPA, scientifically called eicosapentaenoic acid, is an Omega-3 fatty acid found in cold-water fish. As a common primary active nutrient in fish and krill oil, EPA promotes heart health. One of the biggest benefits of EPA is supporting normal triglycerides and blood pressure. Overall, this reduction supports the health of arteries.
What is DHA?
DHA, or Docosahexaenoic Acid if you like a tongue-twister, is also an Omega-3 fatty acid. Commonly found in coldwater fish like salmon and tuna, this vital fatty acid has a variety of health benefits.
DHA is well-known for playing a vital role in the healthy development of eye and nerve tissues, which means it helps with your vision. Not to mention, DHA also may promote healthy brain function and reduce inflammation.
How Much ALA is in Walnuts?
Out of all of the tree nuts you can eat, walnuts contain the most ALA. In essence, they are the best plant-based source of ALA Omega-3s. Even though your body doesn’t convert ALA into DHA or EPA efficiently, if you’re on a plant-based diet, you’ll want to include plenty of walnuts. A one-ounce serving of walnuts provides 2.5 grams of ALA.
Is There ALA in Peanuts?
Peanuts, although more healthy than processed foods, are one of the least-healthy nuts. In fact, although peanuts contain 4 grams of polyunsaturated fat or PUFA, they have untraceable amounts of ALA. Meaning, peanuts are not a source of ALA.
Do Cashews Have Omega-3s?
Like peanuts, cashews have no measurable amount of Omega-3s. Cashews certainly are a favorite amongst nut eaters. Since they also contain healthy proteins, magnesium, antioxidants, and monounsaturated fats, they are a healthy snack in moderation.
How Much Omega-3s Do Pecans Have?
Aside from walnuts, pecans are the next tree nut that has a measurable source of ALA. In a one-ounce serving, you’ll find just 0.5 grams of ALA. This is good news for pecans. However, consuming too many pecans can be harmful. Pecans are also high in Omega-6s which when over-consumed, can cause cardiovascular issues.
Getting Enough EPA and DHA When You Don’t Eat Fish
If you don’t eat fish, you aren’t getting enough healthy Omega-3s in your diet. Nuts alone will not give you a sufficient amount of the DHA and EPA Omega-3s that are linked to the health benefits of fatty acids.
You’ll need a supplement in order to have a balanced diet. Antarctic krill oil capsules provide an easy way to give your body the Omega-3s it needs without the unwanted side effects. Choose a krill oil dosage that suits your preferences and lifestyle for a healthier, balanced diet.
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