In our Facts About Fats post, we showed that there are 2 main types of polyunsaturated fats: omega-3 and omega-6.
But what are these and why are they important? 👀
3️⃣:6️⃣ OMEGA 3 AND OMEGA 6
Omega-3 and Omega-6 may sound similar because they are both essential fatty acids, meaning that your body needs them but cannot make them naturally. Both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are important components of cell membranes and are precursors to many other substances in the body such as those involved in regulating blood pressure and inflammatory responses. However, each type has different functions and effects.
3️⃣ OMEGA 3
The most important omega-3 fats include ALA, DHA and EPA. They provide the starting point for making hormones that regulate blood clotting, contraction and relaxation of artery walls, and inflammation and have been shown to be particularly beneficial for heart health. Our bodies mostly use EPA and DHA, which are commonly found in fish, while the body must convert ALA, commonly found in plant sources such as flax or chia seeds.
6️⃣ OMEGA 6
Omega-6 is needed in small quantities for blood clotting, menstruation, blood vessel constriction and inflammation. Omega 6 fatty acids are found in leafy vegetables, seeds, nuts, grains, and vegetable oils but also in prepared foods such as salad dressings and mayonnaise.
⚖️ How much do I need?
Most people are consuming too much omega 6 in general. This is because omega 6 is now found in foods that it never used to be because animals are fed on omega 6 grains. But it is recommended to have more omega-3 by eating at least 2 portions of fish each week, with 1 portion being oily fish.