All about omegas: The lowdown on fatty acids
You’ve probably heard that omegas are good for you. But what exactly are they? Where do we get them? And why are they so vital to our health and wellbeing?
Omega 3, Omega 6 and Omega 9 fatty acids are dietary fats. While each one provides numerous health perks (like supporting good cognitive function and heart health*), it’s crucial that we get them in the right proportions. Research suggests that an imbalance can trigger an inflammatory response in the body and contribute to chronic diseases over time.
Understanding omegas can be a bit tricky, so we’ve put together this quick and easy guide to help you make sense of them—and begin to harness their power for good health!
What are Omega 3s?
Omega 3s are essential fatty acids—“essential” meaning that your body is unable to produce them on its own and requires that you get them from your diet.
Omega 3s are typically considered “healthy fats.” Good sources of Omega 3 include oily fish like sardines and mackerel, chia seeds, hemp seeds, flax seeds, walnuts, algae and ahiflower oil.
The most common types of Omega 3s are EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) and SDA stearidonic acid). Each one supports a different health benefit:
- EPA - produces eicosanoids, molecules that help reduce inflammation*
- DHA - supports your brain and nervous system*
- ALA (found mostly in plant foods) - is considered a building block for other omega-3s in your body and helps protect your heart and blood vessels*
- SDA - beneficial because it’s extremely efficient at converting directly to EPA and metabolizing quickly in the body when consumed, improving cardiovascular, cognitive, joint and immune functions*
In the health and wellness world, Omega 3s get a good deal of attention—and rightly so. Science suggests there are many health benefits to maintaining an adequate daily intake.
What are Omega 6s?
Omega 6s are fatty acids that mostly provide your body with energy. They’re abundant in nuts and seeds and plant-based oils like safflower, sunflower, corn and soybean.
Omega 6s are typically considered to be “less healthy” fatty acids, which is unfortunate because they’re essential for good health.
Oils like corn, soybean and safflower are ingredients found in highly processed snacks and junk foods—stuff we tend to eat way too much of.
Trouble starts when our Omega 6/Omega 3 ratio is out of balance, which can lead to inflammation and other health concerns.* For optimum health, it’s believed that omega 6s should be present at similar or slightly higher levels than Omega 3s in our diets—between 1:1 and 3:1. The typical Western diet has pushed this ratio out of whack to approximately 25:1!
What are Omega 9s?
Omega 9s are considered “healthy” fatty acids. They’re most widely found in olive oil, avocado oil and many of the same foods that are rich in Omega 3s.
Our bodies produce Omega 9s, so we don’t necessarily need to get them from our diet. However, studies show that consuming foods rich with them can provide us with numerous health benefits—like reducing “bad” LDL cholesterol, increasing “good” HDL cholesterol, as well as lowering blood pressure.
How to make sure you’re getting all the omegas your body needs—and the right balance
It can be overwhelming trying to figure out whether or not you’re getting enough omega fatty acids and the proper ratio of each in your diet.
Honestly, most of us would much rather focus on how delicious our lunch tastes versus how many eicosanoids our body is synthesizing with each bite. Here are a few simple tips to help you get started, but don't forget to check with your healthcare professional if you want tips specific to your dietary needs:
Eat MORE whole-food sources of Omega 3s and Omega 6s—things like salmon, herring, sardines, oysters, flax seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, soybeans, eggs, spinach, brussels sprouts, and meat and dairy products from grass-fed animals.
Eat LESS processed sources of Omega 6s. Ditch snacks and meal products that are boxed or packaged and made with refined vegetable cooking oils like corn, soybean, safflower, sunflower and cottonseed.
- If you’re vegan or vegetarian, don’t like the taste of fish or fish oils, or think you’re not getting enough Omegas in your diet, consider taking an Omegas supplement like our new Multi Omega 3-6-9 supplements made with Ahiflower Oil. Derived from a flowering plant found in the United Kingdom, Ahiflower Oil is rich in Omegas 3, 6, and 9 and provides a complete and balanced intake for all-around health and wellness.*
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