DHA, or docosahexaenoic acid, is an essential omega-3 fatty acid that plays an important role in brain function. Unfortunately, the average American diet falls well below the daily recommendation of 220 milligrams. To make sure a person maintains adequate DHA levels, it is important to learn what foods are rich in this fatty acid, especially when following a vegan diet.
Importance of DHA
The medical community has long touted the importance of DHA, especially during pregnancy and infant development. However, it is vital for adults as well. It is found in the brain and retina and supports a healthy cardiovascular system. Deficiencies have been linked to challenging conditions, including autism, depression, Parkinson’s disease, and MS. To maintain top health, it is vital to consume adequate amounts.
Vegan Foods Rich in DHA
To obtain the recommended amounts of DHA, many people turn to supplements. However, it is always better to receive nutrition from food. Although a vegan’s diet is somewhat limited, there are numerous foods that contain high levels of DHA.
Adding chia or hemp seeds to the diet is a smart way to naturally increase DHA levels. A single ounce of these seeds contains over 1,000 milligrams. It is easy for a person to sprinkle the seeds on breakfast cereal or yogurt. They work nicely in smoothies as well. When blended properly, chia seeds are barely noticeable in a drink’s texture. For a tasty dessert, it is possible to combine these seeds with pudding.
Mustard oil is another great source of DHA. Anyone who uses olive oil in salad dressing can substitute mustard oil in its place. A tablespoon of this oil contains 826 milligrams of omega-3. Although conventional grocery stores may not carry this product, it is easy to find in most Indian food stores.
Seaweed is considered a superfood and is a popular ingredient in many Asian dishes. Seaweed contains numerous vitamins and minerals. It is one of the best vegan sources of DHA, EPA, and DHEA. One of the simplest recipes to prepare is miso soup with tofu and seaweed.
Many vegetables contain high amounts of DHA. Winter squash is a versatile food that provides 338 milligrams in every cup. Leafy greens are also filled with omega-3 fatty acids. For instance, spinach, cabbage, and kale top the charts with approximately 300 milligrams of DHA per cup. Broccoli and brussel sprouts are wise options as well.
Certain fruits contain DHA and should be incorporated into a vegan diet. Mangoes and honeydew melons are great summer foods. One cup of each fruit offers 60 to 70 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids. Blueberries are extremely healthy and provide approximately 175 milligrams per cup.
Wild rice is a healthy source of DHA and is a staple for people who follow a vegan diet. Besides 156 milligrams of omega-3, this grain is filled with protein, fiber, iron, and other important minerals. This food has a toasty, nutty, and earthy flavor that is perfect for a pilaf or another side dish.
A vegan must rely on natural herbs and spices to add flavors to ordinary dishes. Cloves, oregano, marjoram, and tarragon are four of the richest in DHA. Although it is impossible to satisfy omega-3 daily requirements with these alone, they add distinct taste and interest to other foods.
Vegans do not eat meat, fish, poultry, or any other animal products, which makes it difficult to attain adequate nutrition. It is necessary to get creative in the kitchen and uncover some healthy food choices that are outside the box. Since DHA is a fatty acid responsible for major bodily functions, it is vital to fill the plate with foods rich in this substance. After uncovering what foods contain the highest amounts, it is fun to try new and delicious recipes. This makes it possible to protect animals and the environment while maintaining a lifestyle that provides increased energy and top health.