What Is alpha-Linolenic Acid, ALA (18:3 n-3) & What Foods Can I Find It In?

alpha-Linolenic acid, ALA, 18:3 n-3, is an essential, polyunsaturated and an omega-3 fatty acid.

It’s also called cis-9,12,15-octadecatrienoic acid.

ALA is needed for tissues and cells and is found in many plant oils.

It is believed that it might help in reducing cholesterol levels.

Table of Contents

alpha-Linolenic Acid Is Essential

alpha-linolenic acid, 18:3, ALA is a polyunsaturated fatty acid. It’s a member of the group of essential fatty acids called omega-3 fatty acids. (source )

ALA is an essential fatty acid. It is required in the diet for good health but cannot be synthesized in our body. We must obtain it from food. (source )

ALA Conversion In The Body

Essential fatty acids go through many conversions. ALA can be converted into eicosapentaenoic acid, EPA and docosahexaenoic acid, DHA, and these are then gradually absorbed into cell membranes. (source )

Research has shown a problem with the conversion, the human body generally uses ALA for energy, and therefore the conversion into EPA and DHA is very limited.

It means that we miss out on the health benefits it can provide.

alpha-linolenic acid, ALA, but also EPA, and DHA are the most represented omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in human tissues and cells. (source )

Benefits from consuming ALA can you read about in alpha-Linolenic Acid, ALA (18:3 n-3): 7 Research-Backed Benefits .

ALA Fortified Foods

The growth of omega-3-fortified foods has grown in recent years.

Foods like eggs, milk, soy milk, margarine, bread, pasta, juice, peanut butter, and even chocolate can be fortified with omega-3 fatty acids.

In most cases, the form of omega-3 contained in these foods is alfa-linolenic acid, ALA. (source )

Foods You Can Find alpha-Linolenic Acid, ALA In

You find alpha-linolenic acid mostly in fats and oils, nuts and seeds, and sauces and gravy products.

Examples of food sources include

Foods in our nutrition tool

You can find regularly updated top ranked lists of foods for over 200+ nutrients in our nutrition tool.

If you are interested in what foods contain the most alpha-linolenic acid, we recommend you visit our tool.

Here's our top ranked list of foods that contain alpha-Linolenic Acid, ALA (18:3 n-3).

Sara Niemelä

co-founder Care Omnia, Head Content Creator

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Nutrition is my passion. I've spent thousands upon thousands of hours reading, analyzing, categorizing and comparing research studies.

I’m a wife and a mother of three. I enjoy the outdoors, cooking, and spending time with my family.