How can vegetarians use the app Natural food guide to improve their omega-3 status?

The health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids can mainly be contributed to eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Unfortunately, those two fats almost exclusively occur in fatty sea fish and to a smaller degree in meat. So how can vegetarians meet their needs for these essential fats?

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In principle, our body is able to produce these important fatty acids on its own from the omega-3 fatty acid α-linolenic acid (ALA), which serves as a precursor. However, the conversion rates a rather low and the omega-6 fatty acid linolic acid (LA) competes with ALA for the same conversion enzymes. The conversion is more efficient the lower the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio is – only a ratio of 5:1 or lower guarantees an optimal conversion rate. In the Western world this ratio usually ranges somewhere between 15:1 and 40:1, which leaves a lot of room for improvement.


Setup for vegetarians


Our app can be tailored to meet the needs of all types of vegetarian diets. You can choose which animal ingredients you want to avoid: meat, fish, egg, dairy and/or honey. You can either just display which foods contain one or more of these animal components or hide all foods which contain them.

1 Vegetarian setup2 Dietary fat composition3 Healthy fats

If you want to improve your omega-3 status, you should make sure to activate the option "Dietary fat composition" in the setup of the nutritional values, as this will allow you to see the proportion of several fatty acids. Of course you can also select any other entry that is of interest to you.


Optimization of the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio


After the basic setup you simply need to select a profile that suits your needs: the profile "Healthy fats" is the right choice for you as it already contains all relevant criteria. It goes without saying that it can also used by non-vegetarians. Please note that you see a short list of the criteria that are considered below the profile name.

Once you activated the profile all foods with high omega-3 content or a beneficial omega-6/omega-3 ratio will be highlighted. You can also sort by nutrients, e.g. by α-linolenic acid. Take your time and browse through the different food categories.

Image: Ken Hawkins, https://www.flickr.com/photos/jpardo/5836662991 (CC BY-ND 2.0)