Omega-3, omega-6, omega-7 and omega-9 fatty acids are all important dietary fats with each having quality benefits to your body. However, it’s important to get the right balance of omega-3, -6, -7 and -9 fatty acids in your diet because an imbalance may contribute to a number of chronic illnesses.
The different is more than just a number.
Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats that cannot be produced by your body, meaning you have to get them from your diet. The term “polyunsaturated” refers to their chemical structure, as “poly” means many and “unsaturated” refers to double bonds. Together they mean that omega-3 fatty acids have many double bonds. “Omega-3” refers to the position of the final double bond in the chemical structure, which is three carbon atoms from the “omega” or tail end of the molecular chain.
There are many types of omega-3 fats, which differ based on their chemical shape and size. Here are the three most common:
EPA: help reduce inflammation and depression
DHA: important for normal brain development and function
ALA: heavily used in the body for energy
Omega-3 fatty acids can be extremely important in many different ways for your body so it’s crucial to keep a healthy balance of them. In addition to enhancing brain, bone, and joint function, these fatty acids reduce risks of cancer, heart disease, inflammation, and diabetes, as well as provide benefits related to fat-loss and muscle-building in athletes. And those are just the extras. Omega-3 is primarily responsible for controlling the body’s blood clotting and building the brain’s cellular membranes.
Some of the best sources of Omega 3’s can be found in mackerel, salmon, sardines, anchovies, chia seeds, walnuts, garlic, flaxseeds, and even a variety of green vegetables.
Omega-6 fatty acids are also polyunsaturated fatty acids that need to be provided through diet. The only difference between these and the 3’s is that the last double bond is six carbons from the omega end of the fatty acid molecule.
These fats are primarily used for energy. The most common omega-6 fat is linoleic acid, which can be converted into longer omega-6 fats such as arachidonic acid. These can aid in the immune system, however too many can create some health issues and the modern Western diet contains far more omega-6 fatty acids than necessary and instead of looking to add more of these, a lot of people should work on cutting down on these sources. Nevertheless, some omega-6 fatty acids have shown benefits in treating symptoms of chronic disease.
Other Common Omega-6 Fatty Acids:
GLA: improve symptoms of arthritis
CLA: studies have shown this omega-6 fatty acid can reduce body fat.
Sources of this omega can be found heavily in vegetable oils (soybean oil, corn oil, olive oil, avocado oil, etc.), mayonnaise, sunflower seeds, margarine, and in various nuts.
Omega-7 fatty acids are a class of unsaturated fatty acids in which the site of unsaturation is seven carbon atoms from the end of the carbon chain. The two most common omega-7 fatty acids in nature are palmitoleic acid (aids in cholesterol) and vaccenic acid (heart health, immunity, inflammation). Omega-7 has only recently been brought to the light of discovery as researchers determine its benefits and sources. One important thing scientists have discovered about omega-7 is its placement in foods containing palmitic acid, one of the most heart-damaging fats we can consume. Omega-7 works against that palmitic acid by providing oppositional benefits – it reduces inflammation and insulin resistance where palmitic acid increases it.
Omega 7’s can be produced within the body but may also be found in sea buckthorn, macadamia nuts (and oil), baker’s yeast, butter, eel, egg yolk, some cheeses, avocado ,and in various types of fish.
Omega-9 fatty acids are monounsaturated, meaning they only have one double bond. It’s located nine carbons from the omega end of the fatty acid molecule. Omega-9 fatty acids aren’t strictly “essential,” meaning they can be produced by the body and they are actually the most common fat cell in the body. However, consuming foods rich in omega-9 fatty acids instead of other types of fat may have a number of beneficial health effects including: Triglyceride reduction, lower risk of diabetes, improving insulin sensitivity, and decreasing inflammation.
You can find sources of this fatty acid in olive oil, avocados, avocado oil, olives, almonds, cashews, pistachios, walnuts, and sesame seeds.
Worried about getting the right ratio of fatty acids in your diet? AMPD Beauty Greens contains an essential fatty acid blend that is designed and dosed for women.