Did you know that the human body can naturally produce all the fatty acids it needs, bar two? These are linoleic acid, an omega 6 fatty acid, and alpha-linolenic acid, an omega 3 fatty acid.
These two “essential” fatty acids are obtained from our diets, but not everyone knows the differences between them and how to consume them.
Continue reading to compare the two: omega 3 vs omega 6.
What Exactly Are They?
Fatty acids such as omega 3 and omega 6 are chemical compounds consisting of long chains of carbon atoms attached to two hydrogens with a carboxylic acid (-COOH) at the end. The omega numbers are a reference to where the first double bond occurs in the carbon sequence of the fat. Monosaturated fats have only one double bond and are omega 7 or omega 9, while polyunsaturated fats with more than one double bond are either omega 3 or omega 6.
These fatty acids are essential components of the healthy fats our bodies require. While they provide many health benefits, we don’t have the enzymes to produce the polyunsaturated fats known as omega 3 and omega 6. So we must get them from our diet instead.
They are regarded as “essential” because if you fail to consume sufficient amounts of omega 6 and omega 3 fats, you’ll develop a deficiency which will likely affect your health.
Omega 3 vs Omega 6: What Benefits Do Each Provide
They’re both incredibly important and provide various health benefits for bodies and brains of all ages.
Omega 3 fatty acids are beneficial for cardiovascular health, reducing blood pressure, triglyceride levels, and chances of a blood clot. Their addition to your diet can help people stave off anxiety and depression, and they’re also crucial for brain growth and development among infants.
A high omega-3 intake is good for mental health issues, and studies have shown that it helps decrease age-related cognitive decline and reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. It can also help alleviate inflammation, joint pain, and menstrual pain.
Omega 6 fatty acids also come with many valuable benefits. They play a crucial role in brain function and reduce your risk of high blood pressure. Omega 6s lower harmful LDL cholesterol, improve insulin resistance, and lower the risk of cardiovascular disease.
While omega 3s can function as an anti-inflammatory, omega 6 fatty acids consumed in excess tend to promote inflammation. That’s why it’s crucial to balance your intake of the various fatty acids.
Additional health benefits of omega 6 include a better-regulated metabolism, and improved skin, hair, and bone health. And it also helps maintain a healthy reproductive system.
Balancing Omega 3 and Omega 6
An average American eats ten times more omega 6 fats than omega 3. This unbalanced intake can contribute to poor cardiovascular health, inflammation, and many other health issues.
For optimal health, it’s crucial to get this balancing act right of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. The excess omega-6 fats and the deficiency in omega-3s in the Western diet are linked with the marked increase of chronic and inflammatory diseases in recent years.
Omega 6 is found in processed food, fast food, and fried food. Many seed and vegetable oils are high in omega 6, and although it’s good for our health in moderation, most people consume too much compared to omega 3.
Our hunter-gatherer ancestors consumed a diet rich in seafood and other sources of omega-3 fats. And anthropological research suggests their consumption of omega 6 and omega 3 fats was an approximate 1:1 ratio.
Experts agree that humans today need to add more omega 3 into our diets to create a healthy balance. For many people, it’s recommended to increase their intake of omega 3 fats while limiting consumption of omega 6s, particularly from unhealthy sources.
Smartprime Om is a product that can help people balance these two omegas in their diet. It supports an increase in Omega 3 index to maximize the health benefits of these polyunsaturated fats but doesn’t rely on fish oils or other oils.
Foods High in Omega 6
Omega 6 fats are found in many vegetable oils, including corn, safflower, evening primrose seed, and soybean. Nuts and seeds such as peanuts, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds contain high levels of this specific type of fatty acid. And tofu and avocado also have considerable omega 6 content.
Unhealthy ways to consume omega 6 fats include processed snack food, fast food, cake, fatty meat, and cured meat. According to the National Academy of Medicine, women need 12 grams of omega 6 per day and men need 17 grams. It’s unlikely to find supplements that provide omega 6 alone because we already consume much of it in our diet.
Foods High in Omega 3
Every omega 3 guide will tell you the same thing. The top sources are oily fish, including mackerel, herring, oysters, sardines, and salmon.
It’s not all bad news for vegetarians and vegans, because it’s possible to get omega 3 through plant-based foods such as flaxseed and chia seeds. The best oils for increasing omega 3 intake are flax, walnut, soya, canola, pumpkin, and algal.
And you should also try to incorporate leafy green vegetables, walnuts, and a variety of seeds into your diet.
Women should try to get 1.1 grams of omega 3 per day, while adult men require 1.6 grams. Many people choose to take omega 3 as a supplement to boost their intake.
Apply This Knowledge for Better Health
There are many omega 6 and omega 3 benefits, but it’s vital to understand how you should consume them in order to reap the benefits. It’s strongly recommended to balance your intake of these two essential fatty acids.
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