ALA stands for “alpha-linolenic acid” and is a type of omega-3 fatty acid that is found in plants. ALA is an essential fatty acid meaning that it can't be produced by the body but must be obtained through the diet.
ALA is similar to the omega-3 in fish oil, which consists of EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). The body has a minor capacity to convert ALA into EPA and DHA. Flaxseed oil is particularly rich in ALA. Other sources include canola, soy, and walnuts.
ALA is effective for maintaining normal cholesterol levels. Dietary ALA decreases circulating cholesterol, and increases cholesterol efflux in foam cells. ALA prevents cholesterol to be integrated in plaque/atherosclerosis through the foam cells and into the arterial wall.