Many may have heard of omega fatty acids, fish oils, nut oils and essential fatty acids. Maybe you’ve heard about all the health benefits they bring, and maybe you’ve spent a lot of money on supplements they contain. There is still a lack of understanding on many sides when it comes to these fats and where they come from and what they do. So let’s take a closer look.
What are omega fatty acids?
Omega fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats. This means that they have fewer hydrogen bonds than saturated fats. Polyunsaturated fats are often regarded as beneficial for a healthy, happy body, as they positively influence the optimisation of the metabolism and many other natural chemical reactions. Fats are divided into 3 main food groups. These are 3, 6 and 9, where 3 and 6 are essential, meaning that we can only get them from our food and 9 is naturally produced in our body. So it is important to have suitable sources of omega fatty acids as part of our daily diet.
Omega-3 is an essential fatty acid. This means that we need it, but our body does not produce it. It comes in 3 forms, which are used by the human body. These are alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). We will now stick to the abbreviations.
Omega 3 is therefore essential for a normal metabolic function. These fats also have anti-inflammatory properties, help maintain a healthy pH balance and lower the risk of many diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, cognitive aging (Alzheimer’s disease) and arthritis.
Omega-3 has also been associated with mental health and vision improvement.
Fish and seed oil are perfect omega fatty acid sources for this fatty acid.
Another essential fatty acid that we obtain from our diet is Omega 6. This fatty acid has many important functions. Omega 6 protects the body from catabolic states during and immediately after physical activity.
It supports the growth and repair of muscle tissue. This is probably why it is so highly regarded in sports and bodybuilding diets and is often used with other such useful nutritional supplements. Especially poultry, eggs and nuts are good sources of omega fatty acids.
Unlike Omega 3 and 6, Omega 9 is not essential because it is naturally produced in our body. However, it is an important component.
The most common and useful form of Omega 9 is oleic acid. It is known that this fatty acid improves the effects of aging, increases insulin sensitivity (and thus helps fight diabetes). Oleic acid is also vital for men as it helps to naturally increase testosterone production by improving the health of the Leydig cells in the testicles. Omega-9 also comes in the form of erucic acid and is found in unsaturated vegetable and seed oils, making it another good source of omega fatty acids.
Top 5 Omega fatty acid rich foods
Omega polyunsaturated fats have a wide range of sources. Some have a high density of fatty acids, others do not. Here are 5 great sources for your daily dose of Omega 3, 6 and 9.
Olive oil is an important ingredient in many dishes. Its nutrient content allows it to help the body in many ways and can be used both as a consumed food and as a topical oil for healthy skin and hair. This versatility also extends to the availability of oleic acid, an omega-9 fatty acid.
Oleic acid helps to reduce oxidative stress and free radical damage. For this reason, it is considered the best oil for frying, as frying foods generally leads to increased exposure to free radicals. This gives it anti-inflammatory properties that protect against disease.
Oleic acid has also been associated with optimized testosterone production in men, as it promotes healthy Leydig cells, the centers of testosterone production.
Fish is a common source of omega-3 fatty acids. Sardines, anchovies, salmon, mackerel and herring are among the richest sources of omega-3. Cod liver oil is another rich source of fish, which contains vitamins A and D as vitamin sources.
These fish contain the highest amounts of omega-3 and to a lesser extent omega-6.
Fish oils have the double advantage of providing a rich source of protein.
Another amazing omega fatty acid source, especially from omega-3-ALA is cold-pressed seed oil. Linseed, for example, has an incredibly high omega-3 density. For this reason flaxseed or linseed Fachs has a strong anti-inflammatory effect and increases the metabolic function. Flaxseed oil also combats many degenerative health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and arthritis to name just a few.
Other sources of omega 3 from seeds are chia seeds, black cumin seeds, hemp seeds and soybean oils.
Oils derived from seeds often also contain other vital nutrients such as magnesium, zinc and iron.
Pumpkin seeds are a good source of omega-6 fatty acids. These easy to consume seeds are also a good source of zinc and other essential nutrients.
Because of their omega-6 content, pumpkin seeds are a great snack if you want to improve recovery and muscle growth after training. Together with zinc, which has testosterone-enhancing properties, pumpkin seeds make a powerful pre-workout snack.
Walnuts are a rich source of Omega 3, 6 and 9. It is known that they have a positive effect on reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and other related diseases.
Walnuts are a good source of healthy fats. For example, if you want to lose weight, boost your metabolism or control your cravings with a healthy, delicious snack, walnuts are ideal.
These nuts also come packaged with manganese and some other important nutrients.
Polyunsaturated fatty acids are important for a healthy body and mind, while Omega 9 is naturally produced in the body. 3 and 6 are essential and must come from food. In any case, it is always a good idea to keep an eye on your sources of omega fatty acids.