The body needs a variety of essential nutrients such as omega fatty acids to function and thrive. What are essential nutrients? Well, they are basically components that the body doesn’t produce naturally, so we need to incorporate them into our diets. These include both micronutrients such as Vitamins and Minerals, and macronutrients such as water, protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats. And seeing that many of these nutrients are derived from fresh, healthy food, a wholesome diet is recommended. Especially if you want to make sure you are getting those all-important nutrients your body needs.
Although fats in general have a bad reputation in the healthy eating spectrum, there are some fats which are not only healthy, but necessary. As a rule, steer clear of the saturated and trans fats and instead look for unsaturated fats. Saturated and trans fats are found in processed foods, junk food and certain dairy products. Meanwhile, unsaturated fats are found in healthier foods such as nuts, fish and seeds.
But what about omega fatty acids in particular? The three omega fatty acids to pay attention to are the omega-3, omega-6 and omega-9 fatty acids. Omega-3 and omega-6 are both polyunsaturated fatty acids and are not produced naturally by the body. So, they need to be consumed as part of a healthy, balanced diet. Omega-9 is a monounsaturated fat and is produced by the body, so is less important to consume. Maintaining a balance of all three fatty acids is important for the body to function healthily.
It’s now 2021, which means that we have a wealth of nutritional information on nutrition at our fingertips. But to help you out, we’ve condensed all the information down into one easy-to-read article. So read on to find out what omega fatty acids are, what are the main omega fatty acid food sources and how they can benefit your overall health today.
What are Omega Fatty Acids?
While omega fatty acids are all important dietary fats, not all of them are essential. So, lets start with the ones which are: omega-3 and omega-6.
Omega-3 is one of those good polyunsaturated fats we spoke about earlier. Basically, they are an important part of the membrane that surrounds each cell in the body. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential because they are not produced naturally by the body. So, the body needs these fats to stay healthy, but can’t produce them itself. This means that we need to rely on our diet or supplements to ensure we get enough of this vital nutrient.
The word ‘poly’ comes from the Greek word meaning ‘many’ – and in this case, the term refers to the many double bonds in their chemical structure. The three, in the name refers to the position of the last of these double bonds in the molecular chain. There are three types of omega-3 fatty acids, these are Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA); Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).
Omega-6 fatty acids are also not produced naturally in the body and so are considered essential nutrients. But what are the omega-6 benefits? Like omega-3, there are various different types of omega-6 fatty acids, and each type has different benefits. The main type is Linoleic acid (LA), which can turn into Arachidonic acid (AA).
Omega-9 fatty acids are slightly different to the above two types. These are monounsaturated – meaning they only have one double bond. And they are also produced naturally by the body, so they aren’t actually essential. However, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t include them in our diets. While we don’t need as many omega-9s in our diet, it is recommended to replace any saturated or trans fats with monounsaturated fats such as omega-9 foods.
But not all omega fatty acids are created equal! So, which omega fatty acid is best? And what are the benefits of omega-3, 6 and 9?
Why do we need Omega Fatty Acids?
We know that they are an essential nutrient, but now it’s time to learn what are the benefits of consuming omega fatty acids. Basically, why are they essential and what are omega fatty acids good for.
Omega-3 fatty acids are already well-known for their potent health benefits. In particular, they play an important role in supporting the healthy functioning of the heart and fighting against heart disease. This is because the EPA and DHA in omega-3 fats can help improve circulation, lower blood pressure and prevent blood clots. In addition, these nutrients help keep the heart beat steadily and lower the triglyceride fats that form in the body after we eat.
Additional health benefits include supporting eye health, as well as the liver, brain and immune system. In fact, each of the three types of this essential nutrient plays a different role in maintaining a healthy body. EPA, for example is known to help reduce inflammation, and is thought to also help alleviate symptoms of depression. Meanwhile, DHA helps to support the development and healthy functioning of the brain and is thought to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia. ALA supports a healthy heart, boosts the immune system and also benefits the nervous system.
In short, omega-3 contributes to improving heart health, and supporting balanced cholesterol and blood pressure levels. They also play a role in preventing diseases such as depression and Parkinson’s, as well as chronic inflammatory diseases such as cancer or arthritis. In addition, omega-3 may help with weight loss and decreasing liver fat.
Omega-6 fatty acids benefits: Essentially this nutrient’s main job is to provide the body with energy. There are also some studies looking into its anti-inflammatory properties, its ability to treat symptoms of chronic disease, as well as weight loss potentials. However, these studies are still inconclusive.
Omega-9 fatty acids may be produced naturally by the body, but research shows that there are omega-9 benefits to be gained from including this nutrient in your diet. This particular omega is known to benefit the heart and reduce the risks of heart disease and strokes. This is because they help to increase good cholesterol and decrease bad cholesterol, which in turn removes the build-up of plaque in the arteries.
There are also studies to show omega-9 benefits our mood and cognitive functions, helping to alleviate anger or irritability, as well as increasing energy levels. It also may enhance the memory and benefit those with Alzheimer’s disease.
Studies show that they have anti-inflammatory properties and can help decrease inflammation in the body. This means that they may also be beneficial in fighting against chronic inflammatory diseases. They are also shown to help improve insulin sensitivity.
To sum up, you need to eat more omega-3 fatty acids than other types and maintaining a healthy balance in our diets is the most important thing. So, now that you know the facts on omega fatty acids, lets have a look at what foods are a good source of this essential nutrient.
What Foods Contain Omega Fatty Acids?
As we have noted above, the most essential omega fatty acids are the omega-3s because the body doesn’t produce them naturally. So, let’s start here. Luckily, there are plenty of healthy foods that contain omega-3 in our stores and e-shop. So, it is easy to incorporate some of those omega-3 benefits into your diet with Prinos Farm&Deli.
Omega-3 Foods include:
- Oily or fatty fish such as salmon, sea bass, tuna, mackerel, sardines, shrimps and anchovies
- Seeds such as chia seeds, hemp seeds and flaxseeds
- Nuts, especially walnuts
- Brussels Sprouts
- Beans such as kidney beans, edamame beans and chickpeas
- Leafy Greens such as kale, spinach and
- Plant oils such as linseed oil, canola oil and soyabean oil
- Algaes such as seaweed, nori, spirulina, and chlorella
PRinOs Tip: Sprinkle chia and ground flaxseeds on cereal or in a smoothie in the morning for a daily boost of omega-3. Specifically, don’t forget to grind the flaxseeds to get their full omega-3 benefits,
Omega-6 Foods include:
- Nuts such as walnuts, cashew nuts and almonds
- Seeds such as sunflower seeds, hemps seeds and chia seeds
- Plant oils such as soybean oil, peanut oil, primrose oil, avocado oil and sesame oil
Omega-9 Foods include:
- Nuts such as macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, peanuts and almonds
- Seeds such as sunflower seeds, chia seeds, sesame seeds
- Acai Berry
- Plant oils such as olive oil, canola oil, avocado oil, argan oil and soybean oil
Here at Prinos Farm&Deli, we are committed to providing our customers with what they need to maintain a healthy and balanced diet. So, check out our stores in Larnaca and Nicosia, or visit our online e-shop today to stock up on omega fatty acid foods for you and your family.
Don’t forget that you can always put your order online at shop.prinos.eu.