Benefits of Omega 3 and Omega 6

Benefits of Omega 3  and Omega 6

Have you heard of essential fatty acids ?. Why you need them for your health.You can find out answers in this article and try to understand how we should maintain balance while including these fatty acids in our diet.Most of the edible oils and food items include omega 6,omega-3 ,omega 9 and saturated fat in different ratios and all we have to do is strike a balance for a sound health.

The essential fatty acids are those fatty acids which are essential to the body but the body cannot produce it by itself so we have to include them through our food.The main essential fatty acids are Omega 3 fatty acids and Omega 6 fatty acids .Other fatty acids include omega 9 fatty acid and omega 7.

Omega 3 fatty acids

They come under poly unsaturated fatty acids which exist in three main forms ALA(alpha linolenic acid),DHA(docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid).ALA is found in plant oils like edible seeds,walnut and flax seeds etc.Whereas EPA and DHA are found in fish and fish oils.

•A diet rich in omega 3 fatty acids helps to lower blood pressure by inhibiting production of substances that cause blood vessels to narrow.They help to reduce the inflammation of arteries and reduce blood fats related to cholesterol there by supporting a sound heart.

•Even though they are helpful in maintaining healthy heart they do not fully reduce the risk of heart diseases and stroke.

•They are helpful in inhibiting the effects of inflammatory chemicals such as prostaglandins and help people with joint pains if they include omega three fatty acids in their diet.

•Low levels of omega 3 fatty acids may weaken cell membranes and the production of certain neuro transmitters in the brain which may have its impact on mental health according to recent researches

•Omega 3 fatty acids can help women with PCOS as they help in improving insulin sensitivity and fertility issues.

•Sources of Omega 3 fatty acids :

•They are found in Salmon ,Mackerel,Tuna,Anchovies and Sardines

•They are found in edible seeds and nuts like Flax seeds ,Chia seeds and Walnut

•They are found in Mung beans(green gram), soy beans(roasted ) and in brussel sprouts

•They are available in fish oil and cod liver oil supplements

Caution: Pregnant women should avoid taking cod liver supplements as they contain Vitamin A

Omega 6 fatty acids

It is very important to create awareness about the consumption of omega 6 fatty acids and also about maintaining the balance between omega 6 & omega 3 .Researches across western countries has put the ratio of omega -6 to omega-3 is 16:1 where this ratio should have been 1:1.The blame has to be on the processed market goods which is on the rise and due to consumption of vegetable oils which contains omega 6 fatty acids.When Indian diet is taken into consideration our fore fathers had a food culture which kept everything in balance but due to the introduction of processed foods and sunflower oil to our diet the cord of balance has become vulnerable.

Omega 6 fatty acids like the omega 3 fatty acids cannot be produced in the body and it is poly unsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) which are found in most of the vegetable oils.Linoleic acid ,the shortest chained omega 6 fatty acids is one of the essential fatty acids required by the body.

•Excess amount of omega-6 will bring an imbalance to the body and due to its inflammatory properties excess omega-6 intake can result increased blood pressure,heart problems,arthritis,diabetes ,cancer and depression

•Omega 6 fatty acids are found predominantly in oils like palm oil,soybean oil,rapeseed oil and sunflower oil .

•The other sources of omega 6 are poultry ,nuts,eggs,hulled sesame seeds,nuts,cereals ,durum wheat ,whole grain breads,vegetable oils ,grape seed oil and evening primrose oil

Omega 9

They belong to a group of fatty acids which are unsaturated and there are two forms of these fatty acids. One is the oleic acid found in olive oil and macadamia oil and other one is erucic acid found in rapeseed oil and mustard oil. Unlike the omega-3 and omega -6 they are not considered essential as the body can produce it from unsaturated fat. Omega 9 is highest in olive oil.


They are a class of unsaturated fatty acids and they are classified into two palmitoleic acid and vaccenic acid. Rich sorces of omega 7 are found in macadamia oil and sea buckthorn oil.

Ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 in certain foods:{source courtesy: Wikipedia}

•Mung beans: 1:15

•Flax seeds: 1:4

•Salmon: 1:12

•Crab: 1:6

•Turnips: 1:3.3

•Chia seeds: 1:3

•Almonds: 1987:1

•Cashews: 125:1

•Poppy seeds: 104:1

•Sesame seeds: 57:1

•Walnuts: 4:1

•Lentils: 3.7:1

•Soyabean: 7.6:1


•Carrots: 57:1

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