Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Acids In A Vegan Diet

There are three types of fat in our diet: saturated fat, monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat. Saturated and monounsaturated fats are called non-essential fats, as our bodies can make these. Polyunsaturated fats are essential fats that we need to obtain from our diets – the two types are omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids.

Beautiful flowers

Good sources of omega-3 are:

  • Ground flaxseeds (linseeds) – 1-2 tbsp a day should supply your needs
  • Chia seeds – 2 tsp
  • Walnuts (4 halves) and walnut oil – 1 tbsp
  • Canola oil is richer in omega 3 fatty acids than other neutral-tasting oils so use this when you need a plain oil. Otherwise extra virgin olive oil is recommended for its other nutritional properties.

Fats that are higher in omega-6 fatty acids are obtained from:

  • Sunflower oil
  • Safflower oil
  • Soya oil

There has been much discussion and debate about the optimal ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fats we should aim for, with some confusing advice following. The clearest, most recent advice comes from Harvard:

“Most Americans eat more omega-6 fats than omega-3 fats, on average about 10 times more. A low intake of omega-3 fats is not good for cardiovascular health, so bringing the two into better balance is a good idea. But don’t do this by cutting back on healthy omega-6 fats. Instead, add some extra omega-3s.”

Easy omega cheats:

  • Flaxseeds are great in smoothies, over muesli or cereal, and can be used in place of eggs in baking
  • Add walnuts, ground flaxseeds or chia seeds to plant-based yoghurts or muesli
  • Walnuts are great in salads!

Check out this tasty chia seed pudding recipe.

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PAGE UPDATED MAY 2020

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