There is growing discussion and awareness today on the significance and many benefits of Omega Fatty Acids for a healthy life. Before we focus on incorporating these fatty acids into our diet, it is important to understand what they are and how they affect us.
To begin with, let us understand what Omega 3, 6, and 9 fatty acids are. These are all essential dietary fats, which the human body can obtain either through the food consumed or via supplements in case our food habits fail to provide us with these.
While Omega 3 and 6 are both polyunsaturated fats and need to be obtained through our diet, Omega 9 is a monounsaturated fat and can be produced by our body itself.
Now, since we know that we must include sources Omega 3 and 6 from our diet, it is important to know the exact sources of these fats so that the same can be incorporated in what we consume.
Sources of Omega 3
Omega 3 is an essential fat and can be sourced from several dietary components like:
- Oily or Fatty Fishes like Salmon, Cod, Sardine, Rohu, Katla, Indian Mackerel, Catfish, etc.
- Flax Seeds
- Chia Seeds
- Mustard Oil
Sources of Omega 6
Just like Omega 3, we need to consume food rich in Omega 6 to get the necessary amount of fat in our body. The most common sources of Omega 6 fatty acids in the Indian diet are:
- Nuts and Seeds like Walnuts, Almonds, Cashew, etc.
- Sunflower and Safflower Oil
- Meat, Poultry, and Eggs
Sources of Omega 9
As mentioned earlier, our body can produce Omega 9 fats, and hence it is considered non-essential. However, the external sources of Omega 9 fats in our body are:
- Vegetable and Seed oils like Mustard Oil, Peanut Oil, Olive Oil, Almond Oil, etc.
- Seeds like Cashew, Walnuts, Almonds, etc.
Benefits of Omega 3, 6 and 9
Now that we know that Omega 3 and 6 are essential let us understand what benefits these 3 oils have to offer us.
Benefits of Omega 3 fats:
- Improves Heart Health
- Aids in a Healthy Mind
- Helps in brain development in infants
- Helps in sports recovery & Muscle soreness
- Helps in Weight Management
- Keeps the Liver Healthy by helping in eliminating Liver Fat
- Dietary omega-3 fatty acids from oily fish in the human diet may help prevent some psychiatric disorders, mainly depression and dementia, particularly Alzheimer’s disease
Benefits of Omega 6 fats:
- Important for Nerve Health & Function
- Help keep symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis under check
Benefits of Omega 9 fats:
- Helpful in controlling cardiovascular diseases by modulating lipid metabolism
Consuming any one of the fatty acids is not going to benefit you much. One should consume an optimal ratio of all three types for ideal results. To conclude, Omega Fatty Acids are no new concept but have been part of our diet for ages. With changing dietary preferences, we might need to supplement these missing elements in our regular diet. People with certain medical conditions need to consult an expert before taking these supplements.