With all the many potential benefits of omega-3s, many of us are chasing the best way to include them in our daily diets. If you have spent time on this thorough search, you have likely stumbled across almonds and algae as two options.
Both almonds and algae are quite nutritious, especially when it comes to their omega-3 content, but they are far from one and the same. By understanding the benefits of both foods, you can decide which is the better option for you and find out how to adapt your daily diet.
What Is Omega-3?
Omega-3 is a type of polyunsaturated fatty acid that plays an important role in the body. These fatty acids make up important building blocks for our cells, forming the structure of cell membranes. Since they make up part of our cell membranes, they also influence how cells interact in the body. By influencing these interactions, omega-3s can help to support the healthy function of several bodily systems.
There are three main types of omega-3 fatty acids:
- Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 precursor
- Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)
- Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
This distinction has important ramifications for how we structure our diet. Of these three types of fatty acids, ALA is the easiest to obtain since it is found in a wide range of foods, from plant oils to nuts and seeds. DHA and EPA are harder to obtain, but they are found in marine foods like fish and algae. The body is able to convert ALA into DHA and EPA through chemical reactions, but only in very small amounts, making it necessary to supplement these two essential fatty acids through our diet.
Since DHA and EPA are more challenging to find in a standard diet, it is crucial to be more mindful about how to include them each day. These two essential fatty acids are also the most beneficial out of the three, found to offer a wider range of potential health benefits.
Why Should We Eat More Omega-3s?
By providing the foundation for many of the cells in our bodies, omega-3s help to support multiple important bodily systems, from our brains to our joints. Out of the three main omega-3 types, DHA and EPA are the most beneficial, but ALA may also offer some benefits, as it can help provide energy and fuel for cells in the body.
In general, omega-3s help to regulate bodily functions and make up important cells, helping to make sure things run smoothly. As a result, consuming omega-3s on a regular basis offers many potential health benefits, including:
- Supporting a healthy heart
- Helping to maintain a healthy blood pressure
- Helping to support healthy cholesterol levels
- Supporting healthy cognitive functions, like memory and motor skills
- Supporting healthy joints throughout aging
- Supporting emotional wellness and a more positive mood
- Supporting the healthy development of children during pregnancy and childhood
- Helping to maintain eye health throughout aging
Are Almonds a Good Source of Omega-3?
In the search for a strong source of omega-3, almonds are quite an appealing option. After all, you can incorporate them into your diet in many ways, from putting them in your oatmeal to snacking on a handful to even turning them into milk!
However, almonds are not an overwhelming source of ALA, as 100 grams of almonds (nearly 100 almonds, and almost 600 calories’ worth) only contain about 0.003 grams of the fatty acid. It is important to note, too, that almonds only contain ALA omega-3 and do not provide either DHA or EPA. Still, this doesn’t mean that you should write them off completely.
In addition to their ALA omega-3 content, almonds feature a range of other nutritional benefits. Almonds can provide you with other valuable nutrients, like fiber, protein, and vitamin E. These tree nuts also contain trace amounts of vital minerals, like calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, and copper.
With the number of nutrients packed into them, almonds provide many potential health benefits. They may help support your bone health, promote healthy blood sugar levels, and support healthy cholesterol. Since they are high in plant protein and fiber, almonds may also help leave you feeling full longer, which can support a healthy appetite.
Despite being a source of ALA omega-3s, they still lag behind other sources of ALA, like walnuts and flaxseeds. Therefore, almonds are not the best first choice for omega-3 when filling up your grocery cart.
How Does Algae Stack Up?
Algae is a remarkable source of omega-3s that, depending on the species, can be easily absorbed by the body. Consuming your daily omega-3s through algae has several excellent benefits, from supporting your heart and joint health to providing you with valuable antioxidants.
Algae is unique in the world of nutrition since it contains both DHA and EPA — the only plant-based source to provide both. This is crucial, especially since many people do not get enough DHA and EPA. These two essential fatty acids are hard to come by on any diet, with fish being the most popular source. In fact, algae is such an excellent source of these two fatty acids that the reason fish are so high in DHA and EPA is because they eat microalgae.
Like almonds, algae also has a range of additional benefits that accompany its omega-3 content. Along with DHA and EPA omega-3s, algae also offers protein, iron, and a host of plant-based antioxidants.
Since algae offers a plant-based form of DHA and EPA omega-3s, it also makes for a worthy substitute for people desiring an alternative to fish oil. Fish oil and krill supplements are the most popular options for supplementing DHA and EPA into an everyday diet.
However, many people may prefer to avoid fish because of the risk of marine contaminants, allergies, dietary preferences, and even the unpleasant smell. Fortunately, with the increasing availability and popularity of algae-based supplements, people can enjoy the benefits of omega-3 without the drawbacks of fish, especially with a reliably sourced option like iwi life’s omega-3 supplement.
Are Almonds or Algae Better for Omega-3 Content?
With the benefits of each option laid out, the important question is, which is better?
Although snacking on almonds may seem like a quick and easy way to get all of the omega-3 nutrients you need, sticking to just almonds is not quite enough. After all, almonds are a great source of ALA omega-3s, and there is certainly no reason not to include them in your diet, but you shouldn’t rely on them for your main source of omega-3s.
Altogether, you might guess that there is no comparison between almonds and algae. Despite being high in ALA, almonds stand among many other possible sources for ALA. Meanwhile, algae is one of the few sources of omega-3 that can provide EPA and DHA fatty acids. Since DHA and EPA provide the most potential health benefits compared to other omega-3s, it is crucial to obtain these nutrients through your diet.
All that said, algae is the far better option for obtaining your daily omega-3 intake.
With an option like iwi life’s omega-3 supplement, your daily required DHA and EPA omega-3s are packed into a simple daily softgel. So not only is getting your omega-3s from algae more rewarding than from almonds, but it is also easier. By taking one quick softgel, you won’t have to think about getting more DHA and EPA until the next day.
Snacking on almonds is still a great way to add some important nutrients to your diet and get some extra protein while you do, but make sure that it comes second to algae when thinking about your daily omega-3 intake.
Get All the Omega-3s You Need From Algae
Both algae and almonds are excellent additions to your diet, but you can’t substitute them for each other as sources of omega-3. With their multiple nutrients, almonds are undeniably healthy, but they are no substitute for the DHA and EPA omega-3s provided through algae.
When you turn to iwi life’s omega-3 supplement, you can get all of your daily DHA and EPA fatty acids in one softgel, allowing you to enjoy many potential health benefits without a second thought. Each omega-3 supplement offers 250 mg of combined DHA and EPA, stacking up well against fish and krill oil supplements. To see all of the ways that you can benefit from algae-based omega-3 supplements, explore our complete family of products.
Essential Fatty Acids | Linus Pauling Institute
Omega-3 Fatty Acids EPA and DHA: Health Benefits Throughout Life | NIH