Omega-3, omega-6, and omega-9 fatty acids are all vital fats in our daily diet and have their own health benefits. Each one is needed and they come from different sources. The body needs to obtain omega-3 fatty acids from food, and the best sources are oily fish like salmon and mackerel, chia seeds, walnuts, avocados, and flax seed (Robertson, 2017). Omega-3's support the reproductive system, cardiovascular health, immune and nervous system, as well as brain and visual development and health (American Optometric Association, 2019). It is recommended that men should get 1.6 grams and women 1.1 grams per day of omega-3's, and if this is unattainable, a daily supplement is suggested (Robertson, 2017).
Omega-6 are also essential fatty acids and are important in the reproductive system, cardiovascular health, skin and hair growth, immune and nervous system, regulate metabolism, as well as brain and visual development and health (American Optometric Association, 2019). It is important to understand that omega-6 fatty acids can cause inflammation if there is an overabundance in the diet and the western diet tends to incorporate too many omega-6's. For instance, the suggested daily intake value for a woman is 12 grams but a serving of mayonnaise has 39 grams (Robertson, 2017). Other foods that have high amounts of omega-6 fatty acids are soybean and corn oil, walnuts, sunflower seeds and almonds (Robertson, 2017). A good rule of thumb when it comes to omega-6 in your diet is to maintain a ratio of 2:1 with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, so your omega-6 intake should be half of your omega-3 intake.
Omega-9's are a little different than omega-3's and omega-6's because the body can make them in small amounts, so they are not considered ‘essential’ (Cooley, 2017). There are several health benefits from omega-9's, such as they increase HDL and decrease LDL, they increase energy and mood, and improve memory and the immune system (Cooley, 2017). Omega-9 fats are found commonly in vegetable and seed oils as well as in nuts and seeds and there is no real recommended daily intake value because they are non-essential fatty acids (Robertson, 2017). However, the body can suffer if too much omega-9's are consumed and not enough omega-3s or omega-6's, so again, there should be a correct ratio of the fats in the daily diet, which is 2:1:1 omega-3's to omega-6's and omega-9's, so the omega-9 intake should be half of your omega-3 intake (Cooley, 2017). The primary sources of omega-9 fats are oleic acid and erucic acid, avocado, avocado oil, wallflower seed, almonds, almond oil, olives, pecans, cashews, olives, and macadamia nuts (Cooley, 2017).
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ANNA PIPPIN, MSHN
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