Do I really need them?
Omega-3, omega-6, and omega-9 fatty acids are all important dietary fats that we (as Physicians) been asked frequently about their health benefits and food sources.
So, in this article I will explain briefly about 3 common questions. Firstly, Why do we need them? Secondly, from what food sources they’re available? And finally, do I need to get the omega 3-6-9 supplements?
It’s an essential fatty acid. And by “essential”, I mean that your body can not create or produce it. So, you’ve got to get it from your diet.
The most important benefits of Omega-3 are:
- Improving heart health. By reducing cholesterol, triglyceride and provides better control on blood pressure levels.
- Supporting mental health. By reducing or preventing depression episodes, parkinson’s disease, and psychosis.
- Reducing weight and waist size. It should be part of your diet plan if you are planning to lose weight. And studies show that Omega-3 helps in decreasing the amount of fat in and around the liver (i.e.fatty liver).
- Fighting inflamation that might occur with some chronic disease.
- For skin: it improves skin hydration, regulates skin’s oil production (thus helps soften rough and dry skin) and minimizes the signs of aging.
Foods high in omega-3 fats
- Fish like salmon, sardine, mackerel, and tuna.
- Nuts and seeds (such as flaxseed, chia seeds, and walnuts).
- Vegetable and seed oils (such as flaxseed oil, soybean oil, and canola oil).
- Many other foods contain decent amounts of omega-3 but not as high as the foods above. Which included pastured eggs, omega-3-enriched eggs, vegetables like spinach, brocoli, cauliflower, and brussels sprouts.
Just like omega-3, it’s an essential fats that you need to obtain from your diet because your body can not create it.
Benefits of Omega-6
Omega-6 fatty acids mainly provide energey for the metabolic p
rocesses of the body and produces pro-inflammatory molecules that play a key role in the immune system.
However, when the body has too many of Omega-6, it can increases the risk of inflammation and inflammatory disease.
Foods high in Omega-6 fats
- Vegetable and seed oils (such as flaxseed oil, soybean oil, corn oil, sunflower oil, and canola oil)
- Nuts and seeds (such as flaxseed, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, almond, cashew nuts, and walnuts)
It’s the only one which is not “essential” type. Meaning that the body can produce it unlike omega-3 and 6.
However, consuming foods rich in omega-9 may have health benefits.
Benefits of Omega-9
- It can regulate your cholesterol level. Latest studies shows that it lowers the LDL (bad) cholesterol and increases the HDL (good) So, it helps in minimizing atherosclerosis and prevents future heart attacks and strokes.
- Reduces insulin resistance in people with diabetes.
- Increases energy and enhances mood.
- Improves memory performance in people with Alzheimer’s disease.
- Boosts the immune system.
Foods high in omega-9 fats
- All kind of meat (especially fish)
- Vegetable and seed oils (Such as olive oil, almond oil. Cashew nut oil, avocado oil, peanut oil and many others)
- Nuts (such as almonds, cashew, walnuts and others)
- Seeds (such as rapeseed, mustard seed, and chia seed)
Should you take an omega-3-6-9 supplement?
Well, that depends on multiple factors such as your age, type of diet, any existing medical conditions and many others.
Combined omega-3-6-9 supplements usually provide each of these fatty acids in suitable proportions.
However, most people already get enough omega-6 from their diet, and the body produces omega-9. For this reason, most people do not need to get supplements containing the three of them.
Instead, it’s best to focus on getting a good balance of omega-3, -6, and -9 fatty acids from your diet.
Simply you can do that by eating at least two portions of oily fish per week, using olive oil for cooking and in salad dressings, and include nuts and seeds in your diet. And you should be perfectly fine.
The bottom line
All omega fatty acids are important for the body. And the popular and easy way to get them is through taking combined supplements of omega 3-6-9. However, they generally provide no additional benefit if these omega fatty acids are included in your diet regularly.
So, if your planning to take any kind of omega fats supplements, it’s better to consult your doctor first to guide you wisely through it and monitor all aspects of your health.
Dr.Fadi Sameer M.Asaad
M.B.Ch.B, MOH Lic.3170