How Much Do We Really Know What Omegas Are And How They Work?

By Subodh / April 30, 2016

Omegas are essential fatty acids that play a crucial role in your health. While Omega-3 fatty acids are the ones that are in the limelight, there are two other groups, namely the Omega-6 and Omega-9, which are equally important. This article takes you through the details of all these three groups of fatty acids, how they work, and how you can make the most out of them.

What Are Omega-3 Fatty Acids?

Human body does not have the potential to synthesize these essential fatty acids. But since they are crucial for your overall well-being, you must ensure that you are getting them right from your food. There exists more than ten different types of these fatty acids, but the following three are the most important ones:

  1. Alpha Linolenic Acid or the ALA
  2. Docosahexaenoic Acid or the DHA
  3. Eicosapentaenoic Acid or the EPA

omega-3-fatty-acids

While plants are the main sources of ALA, algae and animal foods yield EPA and DHA. So, what exactly does Omega 3 essential do to you? Let’s see!

The DHA Omega-3s, according to studies, help in the normal functioning of your retina and brain. It is also important for pregnant and lactating mothers as it plays a significant role in the development of the infant brains.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids Are Also Offer The Following Health Benefits:

  1. Lower the risk of cancer
  2. Regulates the levels of cardiovascular issues
  3. Aids in weight loss
  4. Eases inflammations and painful joint conditions
  5. Enhances your brain functioning
  6. Helps in healing mood-related disorders including depression
  7. Wards off stress
  8. Helps with ADHD
  9. Good for diabetes
  10. Prevents macular degeneration
  11. Beneficial for osteoporosis and arthritis
  12. Could help in treating various skin disorders

The 10 Most Effective Sources of Omega 3 Fatty Acids Are:

  1. Fish oil
  2. Flax seeds
  3. Chia seeds
  4. Walnuts
  5. Spirulina
  6. Green leafy vegetables
  7. Brazil Nuts
  8. Pumpkin Seeds
  9. Canola oil
  10. Whole grains

[ Read: How To Include Flaxseeds In Your Diet ]

What Are Omega-6 Fatty Acids?

soy milk

Omega-6 essential fatty acids, commonly referred to as the Linoleic acid, is essential for our human body. But like the Omega-3s, human body is incapable of synthesizing it. While Omega 6 also renders all of the above mentioned health benefits, it alone cannot yield you any benefits.

Omega-6 fatty acids should always be used in a balanced way with the Omega-3 fatty acids to make use of its goodness optimally.

One of the well-known benefits of the gamma linoleic Omega 6 is its aniti-inflammatory nature. It also helps in inhibiting the actions of the lethal arachidonic acid, which quite often upsets the gut system.

This linoleic acid also prevents the platelets from sticking together, which is a precursor to cardiovascular conditions like atherosclerosis. Omega 6 fatty acids could also help in lowering the levels of cholesterol and regulate blood pressure levels, thus shielding your heart. The enzyme that synthesizes the Omega 6 fatty acid from the dietary fats could help slow down the aging process and lower the risk of various chronic conditions.

Twelve of The Best Known Sources of Omega-6 Fatty Acids Are:

  1. Olive oil
  2. Soybean
  3. Pistachios
  4. Corn oil
  5. Safflower oil
  6. Pumpkin seeds
  7. Grapeseeds
  8. Sunflower seeds and oil
  9. Peanuts
  10. Chia seeds
  11. Cottonseed
  12. Sesame oil

What Are Omega-9 Fatty Acids?

Avocados

Omega-9s are significantly different from its siblings, Omega-3s and the Omega-6s. The two major differences between this group and the other two EFAs are:

  1. Human body has the potential to synthesize this essential fatty acid.
  2. These fatty acids contain more than 70% monounsaturated fats, while the other two contain polyunsaturated fats in high concentrations.

[ Read: How Brazil Nuts Benefits To Our Health ]

Some of the most common variants of omega-9 fatty acids are:

  1. Oleic acid known for a wide array of health and skin benefits
  2. Mead acid known for its anti-inflammatory properties
  3. Nervonic acid that is good for your brain

Some of the most potential external sources of these groups of Omega fatty acids are:

  1. Olive oil
  2. Canola oil
  3. Sunflower oil
  4. Avocados
  5. Almonds
  6. Hazelnuts
  7. Pistachios
  8. Chia seeds
  9. Cashews
  10. Macadamias

Striking The Balance Between Omega-3 Fatty Acids And Omega-6 Fatty Acids

omegas

There is a very significant reason why studies emphasize on striking the right balance between Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. While both offer health benefits on a similar note by triggering the synthesis of eicosanoids, the signal molecules, excess of Omega-6s could actually have inverse effects.

Studies suggest that excessive use of omega-6 fatty acids could counteract the beneficial effects. Ideally seen, you should be eating the ratio of Omega-3s to Omega-6s should be 2:1. But, given the today’s junk and fast foods, the ratio seems to be inverse with people consuming more omega-6s way more than what they should actually be consuming.

To Sum Up, All The Three Groups of Omega Fatty Acids Are Essential To:

  • Lower coronary heart disease
  • Aid in healthy weight management
  • Prevent stroke
  • Cut down the risk of diabetes
  • Enhance healthy nerve activity
  • Stimulate better vitamin absorption
  • Promote healthy immune system
  • Stimulate the cell development

Ideally, fats should comprise 20 to 35% of the total energy consumption, however healthy you are eating. So aim to maintain this value and incorporate essential fatty acids for a healthier and longer life.

I’d love to hear what your thoughts on this!