You have probably already heard of omega-3 fatty acids, but you may not have heard of omega-6 fatty acids. Although they sound similar and do have many similarities, there are some critical differences between them. Here’s what you need to know about omega-6s and how to manage them in your diet.
What are omega-6s?
Omega-6 fatty acids are naturally occurring polyunsaturated fats. They are not produced naturally in the human body but are found in foods like vegetables, nuts, and seeds. There are different types of fatty acids, and they are typically used by the body to produce energy. A certain amount of omega-6s is essential for your body to function since it can’t make them on its own. However, most people get too many omega-6s in their diet and should aim for a closer ratio of omega-3 to omega-6.
How are they different from omega-3s?
Omega-6 fatty acids are very similar to omega-3s. They are both polyunsaturated fats that your body can’t make. However, with omega-6 fatty acids, the way the acid bonds together is with six carbons instead of three. This different structure means the body can convert omega-6s into acids that increase inflammation, which doesn’t happen with omega-3s.
What foods contain omega-6s?
Omega-6 fatty acids are found in very high doses in vegetable oils and seed oils and in lower doses in products like butter, coconut oil, and olive oil. Meat that has been grain-fed may also be high in omega-6s – this often happens in produce like chicken and pork. You can avoid this by looking for grass-fed meat.
Are omega-6s bad for you?
Not much scientific research has been done on omega-6s yet, but there is some concern that they could cause inflammation in the body. In particular, there are concerns that they may cause inflammation in the cardiovascular system, which could potentially lead to heart disease. However, omega-6 fatty acids are considered better for your body than the saturated fats that are found in meat and dairy.
Why you should balance your body with omega-3s
Much more extensive research has been done on omega-3s than on omega-6s. Omega-3 fatty acids are an essential part of your diet that you shouldn’t skip. Adequate consumption of omega-3s puts you at a lower risk of heart disease and can reduce inflammation throughout the body as well. They help keep your eyes healthy, nails strong, and hair shiny. Omega-3s are also helpful for maintaining your mental health and are thought to prevent symptoms of anxiety, depression, Alzheimer’s, bipolar disorder, and more. You can get omega-3s through a supplement or certain foods. Fatty fish, such as salmon, tuna, and tilapia, in particular, are excellent natural sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
Both of these fatty acids are essential for your diet. However, it’s important to be conscious of how much Omega-6 you are consuming, considering our foods are oversaturated with this specific fatty-acid. A balanced diet can help you live a longer, happier, and more comfortable life, reducing your risk for chronic disease.