What you should know about omega fatty acids

There is a lot of controversy surrounding whether or not to include fats in your diet but studies have shown that some fats are essential to your health. Here are some interesting and myth busting facts about omega fatty acids that you didn’t know.

  1. The low down on the omegas

Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, also known as omegas, can be divided into three types of fatty acids: omega-3, omega-6 and omega-9. While omega-3 and omega-6 are polyunsaturated fats and are considered essential for optimal health, because our bodies cannot manufacture them, omega-9 fatty acids are monounsaturated fats. Omega-9 is not considered an essential fatty acid because our bodies are able to manufacture these in small amounts but only if there is enough omega-3 and omega-6 present.

  1. Sources of omegas

Because our bodies are unable to produce omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids it is essential that we get enough of these fats through the food we consume. Omega-3 rich foods include fish-, nut- and plant-based oils as well as canola oil and sunflower oils. Foods that are rich in omega-6 are meat, poultry, eggs as well as nut- and plant-based oils, which include canola, corn, soybean and sunflower oils.

Studies have shown that when our bodies have enough omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids it has the ability to produce its own omega-9 fatty acid. Other sources of omega-9 are oils such as canola, olive, peanut, safflower and sunflower as well as fruits like avocados and olives. Another great source of omega-9 are nuts, such as cashews, almonds, peanuts, pecans, pistachios and walnuts.

3. An important balance

While omega fatty acids are essential for the optimal functioning of your body and for great health, it would be crucial to note that too much of a good thing can also be dangerous, this is according to Rajiv Chowdhury, MD, PhD, of the University of Cambridge, and his co-authors in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Finding the balance between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids is crucial as too much omega-6 fatty acid in a person’s body causes inflammation and can lead to diseases such as coronary heart disease, cancers and arthritis. It is important, for long term health, to balance the ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 with nutritionists suggesting a ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 is between 1:2 and 1:4. The typical US diet has a ratio between 1:10 and 1:30

4. Stay away from trans fats

According to a 2014 position paper on dietary fatty acids and human health from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, adults should be receiving between 20 and 35% of their energy from dietary fats. It is highly important to remember that this does not include trans or saturated fats, which are the bad forms of fat. Trans fats are metabolized differently from other fats, and they interfere with the conversion of dietary fats. More and more research is showing the damaging effects of trans fat.

5. Omega-3: the super fatty acid

In a nutrition report published by Harvard University it was found that omega-3 fatty acids go a very long way in benefiting your health and are relatively affordable and accessible. Omega-3 is very high in anti-inflammatory properties and goes a long way in preventing diseases such as Alzheimer’s, arthritis, asthma, breast cancer, colon cancer, prostate cancer, depression, high blood pressure, heart disease, strokes, osteoporosis, skin disorders and diabetes.

Did you know? – Omega-3 fatty acids are extremely beneficial to women over their 40’s. Due to their incredible anti-inflammatory properties they work wonders in relieving symptoms of menopause such as hot flushes, risk of osteoporosis, mood swings, depression, memory loss and sleeplessness.