Omega 3-6-9 is what we collectively refer to different individual fatty acids namely, omega 3, omega 6, and omega 9. These are essential fats in our diet, and each has its respective benefits.
We will talk about what they are individually and how we can get them. Most importantly, we will also talk about how they benefit our body and how to use them.
Omega 3 Benefits
Omega 3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids which are not naturally produced in our bodies. They are classified as ‘essential fats,’ and we need to acquire them mainly from our diet. Omega 3 fatty acids are of three types, namely:
- Eicosapentaenoic Acids (EPA): These help calm down inflammation and help alleviate symptoms of depression. They can be found in seafood like fish, oysters, and shellfish.
- Docosahexaenoic Acids (DHA): These fatty acids are essential to brain development and comprise 8% of the human brain’s weight. Again, look to seafood for these types of fatty acids. Fatty fish like salmon and sardines are excellent sources of DHA.
- Alpha-Linolenic Acids (ALA): Our bodies mainly use this fatty acid for energy. However, it can also convert this fatty acid into EPA and DHA to make it more usable. ALA can aid the heart, nervous system, and immune system when in these converted forms. Seeds and nuts like flaxseed and their oils are great sources of ALA.
How Much Omega 3 Do You Need?
Before looking into foods that contain omega 3 fatty acids, you must first understand the intake amount.
Out of the 3 fatty acids, the western diet contains more omega 6 than omega 3. So you must try and balance out the different fatty acids for a healthier diet. Experts usually recommend about 250-300 mg of omega 3 fatty acids in a day.
The Food and Nutrition Board of the US Institute of Medicine also outlines a recommended intake amount. They recommend about 1.6 gms and 1.1gms of ALA per day for adult men and women, respectively.
Which foods have Omega 3 Fatty Acids?
Here is a more comprehensive list of food items that have omega 3 fatty acids. We have listed the items based on 1 serving or 75gms.
- Salmon contains 4 grams of EPA and DHA
- Chia seeds contain 4.9 grams of ALA
- Walnuts contain 2.5 grams of ALA
- Mackerel contains 3 grams of EPA and DHA
Omega 6 Benefits
Omega 6 fatty acids are also polyunsaturated fatty acids. These fatty acids are also acquired solely from our diet.
The main purpose of Omega 6 fatty acids is to provide energy to the body. They enter the body in linoleic acid, one of the most common fatty acids that we get from food. It is converted in our body into more useful forms such as arachidonic acids or AAs.
Interestingly, AAs are also like EPAs in the sense that they also produce eicosanoids. These eicosanoids help the immune system. But they could be pro-inflammatory, so a controlled intake is required.
Seeds, nuts, and vegetable oils are good sources of linoleic acid. Dairy and beef are good sources of CLA; primrose oil and borage oil are good oils for GLA.
How Much Omega 6 Do You need?
Between omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, it is good to keep a minimum ratio of 1:1 and a maximum ratio of 4:1. The Food and Nutrition Board of the US Institute of Medicine recommends a daily serving of 17 grams for men and 12 grams for women. It is only for persons who fall between 19-50 years of age.
Which foods have Omega 6 Fatty Acids?
Here is a list showing foods and the amount of omega 6 fatty acids contained in 100 grams each:
- Soybean oil has 50gms
- Mayonnaise contains 39grams
- Walnuts have 37gms
- Sunflower seeds have 34 gms
Omega 9 Benefits
Omega 9 fatty acids are slightly different from the other two acids mentioned above, as they are monounsaturated acids.
This fatty acid comes into our diet most commonly in the form of oleic acid. Interestingly, unlike the other two, our body can produce omega 9 fatty acids, and as such, they are nonessential.
These fatty acids are the acids you need to be consuming daily. According to a study, people with Omega 9 fatty acids had certain benefits that others did not.
It was shown that consuming omega fatty acids improve insulin sensitivity and help with lowering inflammation.
Some daily food items where you can get omega 9 fatty acids are avocados and olive oil.
How Much Omega 9 Do You need?
Omega 9 fatty acids are nonessential fatty acids, so there is no recommended serving. Your body should naturally produce them.
Which foods have Omega 9 Fatty Acids?
Here is a list of foods rich in Omega 9 fatty acids. They are arranged from most to least contained in 100 grams of the food item:
- Olive Oil has 83 grams
- Almond Oil has 70 grams
- Almonds have 30 grams
- Walnuts have 9 grams
Do you need Omega 3-6-9 Supplements?
The answer to this is very nuanced. A regular person already gets a sufficient amount of omega 6 fatty acids from a regular diet.
And you need not worry about Omega 9 as this fatty acid is nonessential and already produced by our body. The only omega fatty acid you should worry about is omega 3.
Supplements may come in proportioned servings, which can help certain individuals. However, when you have too much omega 6, you run the risk of increased inflammatory tendencies.
So if you are deficient in omega 3, you can take separate supplements for it. However, it would be best if you got it into your diet by taking oily fish 2 times a week.
We hope this article has helped you understand omega 3-6-9 fatty acids and what they do for us. Although they are frequently grouped, they are very different kinds of fatty acids. Each has its unique interactions with our body and its uses.