General Health

Fish Oil Vs Plant-Based Omega-3: Which Is Better?

6 min read

By Apollo 24|7, Published on- 22 September 2023, Updated on - 03 October 2023

  • Share this article

  • 0

  • 1 like

Omega 3 fatty acids are essential nutrients that play a crucial role in maintaining good health. They have been associated with numerous benefits, including heart health, brain function, and reducing inflammation. There are two primary sources of omega-3 fatty acids: fish oil and plant-based sources. In this article, we will compare fish oil and plant-based omega 3 sources to help you make an informed decision about which option is best for you. Let's explore the benefits, accessibility, and potential drawbacks of each source.

What is Fish Oil?

Fish oil  is derived from the tissues of fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines. It is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, specifically eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These fatty acids play a crucial role in various bodily functions.

1. Benefits of Fish Oil

Fish oil offers a wide range of health benefits, primarily due to its high content of omega-3 fatty acids. Here are some of the key benefits of fish oil:

  • Cardiovascular Health: Fish oil has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering triglyceride levels, reducing blood pressure, and improving overall heart health. EPA and DHA help prevent blood clot formation and promote healthy blood vessel function.
  • Brain Function and Mental Health: Fish oil supplementation has been associated with improved cognitive function, memory, and mood regulation. It may also reduce the risk of age-related cognitive decline and mental disorders like depression and anxiety.
  • Eye Health: DHA, a component of fish oil, is a major structural fat in the retina. Consuming fish oil regularly may help protect against age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and dry eye syndrome.

2. Risks and Side Effects of Fish Oil

Here are potential risks and side effects associated with fish oil supplementation:

  • Contamination with Mercury: Fish oil is derived from fish, which can contain mercury and other pollutants due to environmental contamination. It is crucial to choose a reputable brand that tests for purity and ensures the absence of toxins.
  • Digestive Issues and Fishy Aftertaste: Some people may experience digestive problems such as diarrhoea, indigestion, or a fishy aftertaste when taking fish oil supplements. Taking them with meals or choosing enteric-coated capsules may help alleviate these issues.
  • Allergic Reactions: In rare cases, individuals may be allergic to fish oil supplements, resulting in symptoms such as itching, rash, or difficulty breathing. If you experience any allergic reactions, discontinue use immediately and seek medical attention.

The American Heart Association recommends consuming at least two servings of fatty fish per week or taking 1 gram (1000 mg) of combined EPA and DHA daily for cardiovascular benefits.

When choosing a fish oil supplement, it is important to consider the following factors:

  • Quality: Look for brands that use molecular distillation to remove impurities.
  • Concentration: Opt for supplements with higher levels of EPA and DHA.
  • Certification: Choose products that carry third-party certifications for purity and potency.

What are Plant-Based Omega-3 Sources?

Plant-based omega 3 sources are derived from plants and are naturally occurring in various foods.

1. Benefits of Plant-Based Omega-3 Sources

Let's explore the benefits of incorporating these omega 3 foods into your diet:

  • Heart Health Benefits: Plant-based omega-3s have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering triglyceride levels and improving overall heart health.
  • Anti-Inflammatory Properties: Omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory effects, which can help reduce inflammation in the body and alleviate symptoms of chronic conditions like arthritis.
  • Sustainable and Ethical Considerations: Plant-based sources of omega-3s are more sustainable and ethical as they do not contribute to overfishing or harm marine ecosystems.

2. Types of Plant-Based Omega-3 Sources

let's look at some specific Omega-3s from plant foods:

  • Flaxseeds and Flaxseed Oil:  Flaxseeds are packed with omega-3s and can easily be added to smoothies, yoghurts, or baked goods.
  • Chia Seeds:  Chia seeds are also omega 3 rich foods and can be used in various recipes.
  • Hemp Seeds and Hempseed Oil: These seeds have a perfect balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and can be sprinkled over salads or added to smoothies.
  • Walnuts and Walnut Oil:  Walnuts are an excellent source of omega-3s and can be eaten on their own or added to salads, oatmeal, or baked goods.
  • Algal Oil Supplements: Algal oil is derived from algae and is an excellent omega 3 vegetarian food source.

3. Incorporating Omega-3s from Plant-based Sources into the Diet

Here are some tips on how to add these sources to your meals:

  • Add flaxseeds or chia seeds to your morning smoothie or sprinkle them on top of your cereal.
  • Use walnut oil or  flaxseed oil in salad dressings or drizzle it over roasted vegetables.
  • Snack on a handful of walnuts or mix them into your favourite trail mix.
  • Consider taking algal oil supplements if you struggle to meet your omega-3 needs through food alone.

Fish Oil vs. Plant-Based Omega-3 Sources: Which is Better?

When it comes to omega 3 fatty acids, both fish oil and plant-based sources have their own benefits and considerations to keep in mind. Let's explore some of them below:

1. Efficacy and Absorption of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Fish oil contains two main types of omega-3 fatty acids - EPA and DHA, which are easily absorbed by the body.

Plant-based sources like flaxseeds, chia seeds, and walnuts contain ALA, which the body converts into EPA and DHA, but the conversion rate is relatively low.

2. Factors to Consider When Choosing a Source of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

When choosing a  source of omega-3 fatty acids, several factors should be considered to ensure you select the most appropriate option for your dietary preferences, health needs, and lifestyle.

  • Dietary Preferences and Restrictions: If you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, plant-based sources are the way to go. If you consume animal products, fish oil can be a convenient option.
  • Environmental Impact: Fish oil production can contribute to overfishing and harm marine ecosystems. Plant-based sources are more sustainable and have a lower environmental impact.
  • Allergies and Sensitivities: Some people may have allergies or sensitivities to fish or seafood, making plant-based sources a more attractive and safer choice.

3. Combining Fish Oil and Plant-Based Sources

Combining fish oil and plant-based sources of omega-3 fatty acids can provide a well-rounded and balanced approach to achieving optimal omega-3 intake. This combination can be particularly useful for individuals who want to ensure they get a variety of omega-3 types, including EPA, DHA, and ALA.


In conclusion, when choosing between fish oil and plant-based sources of Omega-3, it's important to consider your individual needs and preferences. If you're a vegetarian or have concerns about contaminants in fish oil, plant-based sources can be a good option. However, if you're looking for a more concentrated dose of EPA and DHA, fish oil may be more suitable. Consulting with a healthcare professional can help you make an informed decision based on your specific requirements. Remember, a balanced diet that includes a variety of omega 3 rich foods is key to maintaining optimal health.

To know the accurate dosage of fish oil,

Talk To An Apollo Expert


General Health

Frequently Asked Questions

Fish oil can be unsuitable for individuals with seafood allergies or those following a vegetarian or vegan diet. Plant-based omega 3 rich foods are suitable alternatives in such cases.

It depends on your dietary preferences, health conditions, and individual needs. If you're vegetarian or vegan, omega 3 vegetarian foods are a good option. If you have cardiovascular concerns, fish oil may be more beneficial due to its higher EPA and DHA content. However, it's best to consult with a healthcare professional for personalised advice.

  Yes, several organizations provide guidelines for omega-3 intake. The World Health Organization recommends consuming at least 250-500 mg of EPA and DHA daily. Vegetarians should aim for an adequate intake of ALA from plant-based sources.  

  Yes, there are differences. Fish oil contains both eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which are readily available for the body to use. Plant-based sources provide alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which the body converts to EPA and DHA but in limited quantities.  

  Yes, vegetarians can obtain sufficient omega-3 fatty acids from plant-based sources. Vegetarians can rely on flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts, and algae supplements to meet their requirements.  

Leave Comment


Email Id


  • Share this article

  • 0

  • 1 like