Omega 3 and Omega 6 Fatty Acids
Why is Omega-3 important in diet?
Omega 3 fatty acids are essential for not only a healthy brain but are also vital for many other important functions in the body. These fatty acids form parts of each and every cell in the body, they influence genetics throughout the life cycle, help increase immunity, prevent inflammations and infections, keep blood viscosity in control, prevent cardiac arrhythmia, and aid in calcium absorption. Omega-3 fats are part of important brain chemicals and are essential for building and repairing of brain cells. These are also important for brain cell communication.
Omega 6 Fatty Acids
Omega-6 fats are more or less considered healthy as these are Poly Unsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFA), but in fact they hinder with the productivity and good effects on Omega-3 fats and are considered unhealthy and disease promoting. Sources of high amounts of Omega-6 fats are soybean oil, sunflower oil, cottonseed oil, corn oil, salad dressings and margarine. Non vegetarian sources are meat and poultry. It is indeed difficult to completely avoid consuming omega 6 fatty acids, but more importantly a balance is required in consumption of both Omega 3 and Omega 6 fats.Research and studies have shown that present day lifestyles and food trends are increasing the amount of Omega-6 consumption whereas consumption of Omega-3 oils is decreasing. This is leading to increase in chronic diseases in many parts of the world. The consumption of Omega 3 fatty acids has to be increased to balance the high consumption of Omega 6 fats.
Including a single Omega-3 rich source in diet would be insufficient in providing all kinds of omega-3 fatty acids. ALA (alphalinolenic Acid – short chain), EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid – long chain) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid – long chain) form the Omega-3 fat family and LA (Linoleic acid) and AA (Arachidonic acid) form the Omega-6 fat family.
ALA is found in plant sources whereas EPA and DHA are obtained from fish and seafood. All three forms of Omega 3 fats are essential and important. ALA is not sufficiently converted to EPA and DHA and therefore eating plant based omega 3 fats will not provide enough DHA. Please refer the following food sources for Omega 3 fats.
Foods Sources for Omega-3 Fats:
EPA and DHA Sources: Salmon, herring, anchovies, sardines and mackerel. Avoiding predator fish like shark, king mackerel etc can help reducing intake of heavy metals like mercury. Eating a variety of fish also is beneficial for intake of more types of long chain Omega-3 fatty acids.
ALA Sources: Flaxseeds, walnuts, legumes, olive oil, canola oil, blueberries, raspberries, and green leafy vegetables.
For vegetarians and vegans, EPA and DHA intake can be a challenge and they can opt for sea algae or plankton based foods or Omega-3 supplements.
The Ultimate Omega-3 Diet by Evelyn Tribole M.S., RD[ratings]