Everyone has probably heard that omega fatty acids are good for our health. However, a lot of people do not understand the differences between omega-3, omega-6 and omega-9. We will be breaking it down for you how omega-3, 6, and 9 differ from each other and what benefits they have.
There are two main types of fatty acids –saturated and unsaturated. Saturated fats are solid at room temperature, which are typically animal fats like butter and lard. Unsaturated fats are liquid in room temperature like vegetable oil and sunflower oil, which are typically healthier. Within unsaturated fats, there are polyunsaturated fats (PUFA) and monounsaturated fats (MUFA). Omega-3 and 6 are classified as PUFA, while omega 9 is classified as MUFA. Normal human body has the ability to make most types of fats but our body cannot produce omega-3 and 6.
Omega-3’s main benefit is that it can maintain cellular health and integrity. It can reduce inflammation in the body, lower blood pressure and prevent different long term illnesses. The three main types include EPA, DHA and ALA. Omega-3 fats are rich in cold-water fishes like salmon, sardines and cod, walnuts and flaxseeds. Though there is no set daily recommendation for omega-3 fats, it is suggested that a daily dose of 250-500 mg of EPA and DHA can help us achieve its benefits.
Omega-6 on the other hand is found in vegetable oils like corn oil, sunflower oil and sesame oil. It helps with brain function, muscle growth and hormone production. However, it can also counter act omega-3, for too much omega-6 can promote inflammation. Our typical Western Diet consists of more omega-6 than omega-3 fatty acids because vegetable oils are used in many processed foods. In order to stay healthy, it’s important to keep the ratio 1:1 between these two fatty acids. This is why we need to make sure we consume adequate Omega-3 fatty acids to balance the Omega-6.
Omega-9 is a type of monounsaturated fats which can be found in olives, nuts, seeds and animal fats. It can help increase our energy and enhance our mood. Some research has shown it can help reduce cardiovascular disease and stroke but not significantly. Our body can make omega-9 so we do not necessarily need to take Omege-9 supplement.
Even though each of the omega fatty acids mentioned above has its own benefits, we should always remember to consume them in moderation and in the right ratio.
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