Recommendations

A well-balanced, plant-based diet containing green leafy vegetables, wholegrain foods, pulses, nuts and seeds will provide all the plant omega-3 ALA you need. One of the best sources is flaxseed oil, containing 57 per cent ALA and 16 per cent LA, with an omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of 0.28:1. A 14 gram tablespoonful of flaxseed oil provides eight grams of ALA.

Flaxseed oil must be kept in the fridge and can be added to dressings, sauces, dips or cooked food but cooking with it will destroy its properties. It’s always best to buy and store nuts, seeds and their oils in small quantities to ensure that they’re as fresh as possible and have little time to degrade.

It is difficult to say exactly how much of a certain food should be eaten to obtain your EFAs but a sensible approach is to limit how much omega-6 rich vegetable oil you use, switch to olive oil for cooking and increase your omega-3 intake from the sources we’ve listed. Spurn saturated and trans fats as much as possible, which means cutting down on animal and processed foods, because you are much better off without them.

To improve the conversion of ALA to EPA and DHA follow these simple guidelines:

o Eat a range of wholefoods everyday – variety is the spice of life!
o Obtain most fat from wholefoods - nuts, seeds, wholegrains, olives, avocados and soya
o Choose olive oil for cooking in. Use sunflower, corn and safflower oil sparingly
o Use flaxseed oil for salad dressings and dips, keep it in the fridge and don’t cook with it
o Cut down on cholesterol by avoiding eggs, meat, fish and dairy products
o Avoid processed foods, trans fats from margarines and hydrogenated vegetable oils
o Avoid or reduce fried foods, alcohol, caffeine, sugar, smoking and stress