A lot of focus is dedicated to the health benefits of omega-3s concerning omega fatty acids in our diets. More often than not, the health perks of other fatty acids like omega-6s and omega-9s are given less attention. Each of the three omega fatty acids – omega 3 6 9 – plays a significant role in maintaining homeostasis and optimal health.

What Are Omega Fatty Acids?

Generally speaking, fats or fatty acids are vital parts of any healthy diet and have a critical role to play in how the body functions. Fats in our diets play such roles as supporting hormone production, neurological health, and balancing cholesterol levels. A healthy diet consists of two main types of fatty acids: saturated and unsaturated fats.

In chemical terms, all fats are fatty acid chains comprising linked carbon and hydrogen atoms. Unsaturated fatty acids consist of the types known as polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) and monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs). Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids are PUFAs, while omega 9 fatty acids are MUFAs.

Balancing Omega Fatty Acids

It is possible to obtain omega-3, omega-6, and omega-9 fatty acids from your diet. However, the most important thing is to get the right balance of omega 3 vs 6 vs 9. The Western diet entails more omega-6 fats than necessary and less omega-3 fats than our body demands.

Oily fish is considered the leading source of omega-3 EPA and DHA. You can as well obtain omega-3 fatty acids from other marine sources like algal oils. On the other hand, nuts and seeds mainly contain ALA.

A lot of organizations have offered guidelines regarding daily omega-3 intake albeit no official standards are currently available. The Food & Nutrition Board of the United States Institute of Medicine recommends taking 1.6 grams of omega-3s per day for men and 1.1 grams per day for women. These recommendations are geared toward individuals aged 19 years and above.

Refined vegetable oils along with foods cooked in vegetable oils contain large amounts of omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-6 fats can also be found in significant quantities in nuts and seeds. The US Food & Nutrition Board recommends taking 17 grams of omega-6s per day for men and 12 grams per day for women. The recommendations are intended for adults aged between 19 and 50 years old.

You can find considerable amounts of omega-9 fatty acids in seed and vegetable oils as well as seeds and nuts. Omega-9s are considered non-essential, and no adequate intake recommendations have been provided thus far. Foods like olive oil, avocado oil, almond oil, and cashew nut oil contain high amounts of omega-9s.

Benefits of Omega Fatty Acids

All these fatty acids are known to promote optimal health. Omega-3 fats are associated with anti-inflammation effects, mood regulation, heart health, fetal development, and so much more. Although omega-6 fats have earned a negative reputation for enhancing inflammation, they still offer certain health benefits.

Omega-6s promote cardiovascular health and supply our body with a form of energy. The body needs omega-6s to stay healthy, but we don’t need the high amounts common in processed foods today. Consuming omega-9s in moderate amounts can help to reduce hypertension, triglycerides, and bad LDL cholesterol levels. Omega-9s also play a key role in reducing diabetes risk, improving insulin sensitivity, and controlling anxiety.   

Author's Bio: 

Marina Pal is a renowned author and social media enthusiast.