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Foods High in Alpha Linolenic Acid (ALA)

Alpha Linolenic Acid (ALA) is an essential Omega 3 fatty acid necessary for a wide range of functions in the body's cardiovascular (heart) system, immune system, and endocrine (hormone) system. Deficiency of ALA is rare in adults but can lead to rough and scaly skin.

ALAs and Omega 3 fatty acids are thought to be beneficial in protecting against heart disease. In today's modern (Western) diet, most people eat a much higher proportion of Omega 6s than Omega 3s, leading some to look for foods with a good Omega 3 to Omega 6 ratio. However, no ideal Omega 3 to Omega 6 ratio has been found, and it is still not clear how important consuming more Omega 3s than Omega 6s really is. Since the subject is still under study, the foods in this article have been separated into sources of ALAs with higher Omega 3s, and sources of ALAs with higher Omega 6s. Both may be considered healthy, but for the time being, choose more of the Omega 3 foods.

Sources of ALAs higher in Omega 3 fatty acids include flax seeds, chia seeds, and mustard seeds. ALA foods higher in Omega 6s include walnuts, hemp seeds, canola oil, wheat germ oil, and soybean oil. The recommended daily intake of Omega 3 fatty acids is 1600mg per day for adults. This value is used to calculate the percent RDI (%DI) for this article. Below are the top 10 foods highest in alpha-linolenic acids (ALAs).


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Recommended Sources of ALA with more Omega 3s than Omega 6

Plant oil poured from a bottle

1. Flaxseed (Linseed) Oil (Cold pressed) - 7258mg ALA (454% RDI) in 1 tbsp (14g)

116342mg ALA (7272% RDI) in 1 cup (218g)
53368mg ALA (3336% RDI) in 100 grams
4mg of Omega 3s for every Omega 6
Click to see complete nutrition facts.


Flax Seeds

2. Flaxseeds (Milled or Ground) - 6388mg ALA (399% RDI) in 1 oz (28g)

1597mg ALA (100% RDI) in 1 tbsp, ground (7g)
22813mg ALA (1426% RDI) in 100 grams
4mg of Omega 3s for every Omega 6
Click to see complete nutrition facts.


Chia Seeds

3. Chia Seeds (Dried) - 5064mg ALA (316% RDI) in 1 oz (28g)

17830mg ALA (1114% RDI) in 100 grams
3mg of Omega 3s for every Omega 6
Click to see complete nutrition facts.


Mustard Seeds

4. Mustard Seeds (Ground) - 239mg ALA (15% RDI) in 1 tbsp (6g)

76mg ALA (5% RDI) in 1 tsp (2g)
3792mg ALA (237% RDI) in 100 grams
15mg of Omega 3s for every Omega 6
Click to see complete nutrition facts.


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Less Optimal Sources of ALA with more Omega 6s than Omega 3

A walnut

1. Walnuts - 2579mg ALA (161% RDI) in 1 oz (14 halves) (28g)

9080mg ALA (568% RDI) in 100 grams
4mg of Omega 6s for every Omega 3
Click to see complete nutrition facts.


Hemp Seeds

2. Hemp Seeds - 2432mg ALA (152% RDI) in 1 tbsp (28g)

2605mg ALA (163% RDI) in 3 tbsp (30g)
8684mg ALA (543% RDI) in 100 grams
3mg of Omega 6s for every Omega 3
Click to see complete nutrition facts.


Plant oil in a bottle

3. Walnut Oil - 1414mg ALA (88% RDI) in 1 tbsp (14g)

22672mg ALA (1417% RDI) in 1 cup (218g)
10400mg ALA (650% RDI) in 100 grams
5mg of Omega 6s for every Omega 3
Click to see complete nutrition facts.


A bottle of vegetable oil

4. Canola Oil - 1279mg ALA (80% RDI) in 1 tbsp (14g)

19919mg ALA (1245% RDI) in 1 cup (218g)
9137mg ALA (571% RDI) in 100 grams
2mg of Omega 6s for every Omega 3
Click to see complete nutrition facts.


Stalks of Wheat

5. Wheat Germ Oil - 938mg ALA (59% RDI) in 1 tbsp (14g)

15042mg ALA (940% RDI) in 1 cup (218g)
6900mg ALA (431% RDI) in 100 grams
8mg of Omega 6s for every Omega 3
Click to see complete nutrition facts.


Soybeans

6. Soybean Oil - 923mg ALA (58% RDI) in 1 tbsp (14g)

14800mg ALA (924% RDI) in 1 cup (218g)
6789mg ALA (424% RDI) in 100 grams
7mg of Omega 6s for every Omega 3
Click to see complete nutrition facts.




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  1. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 28.

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