Omega 3 vs. Omega 6 Fatty Acids: Which Is Better and Why
You may have heard of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids — you may even have some preconceptions about how they impact your health. Both of these essential dietary nutrients provide a wealth of health benefits, but they have many differences as well.
In this post, we’re diving into the wonderful world of health and wellness to uncover all there is to know about omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. So, if you’ve ever wondered what these fatty acids are or which one reigns supreme — keep reading.
What Are Omega Fatty Acids?
Omega fatty acids are like the superheroes of the nutrition world. They help support the cardiovascular system and help your body protect itself against heart disease.
These fatty acids affect many areas of the human body, working to:
- Promote a healthy metabolism
- Support overall heart health
- Support healthy blood pressure
Plus, they aren't just good for your heart — omega-3s can also encourage an even skin tone and promote joint health, while omega-6s play a crucial role in brain function. It's no wonder that so many people are looking for ways to add more of these super nutrients into their diets!
What’s the Difference Between Omega-3 and Omega-6?
The most notable distinction between these two fats is their chemical structure. Omega-6 fats have a shorter chain of carbon atoms linked together than omega-3s, which are considered long-chain. As a result, omega-6s can break down faster in the body and be absorbed more quickly.
This means that consuming extra omega-6s can provide more energy in a hurry — which is something to keep in mind if you’re planning to fuel up before or after an intense workout.
However, it’s generally recommended to avoid taking in too many omega-6 fatty acids. This is because an overabundance of omega-6 fatty acids might cause irritation as your body metabolizes them.
On the other hand, because omega-3s have longer molecules than omega-6s do, they break down more slowly and can provide more sustained energy over time. Additionally, they're thought to reduce irritation, support cognitive function, and even support your immune system.
So, Which Fatty Acid Is Best?
It's clear from all this evidence that both types of fat have unique benefits for our health — but which one should you focus on consuming? The general consensus is that we should strive for an equal balance between both types of fatty acids in order to maximize their overall positive effects on our bodies.
By including both kinds of fats in your diet regularly, you may be able to maximize the benefits. You can also discuss possible diet plans with your healthcare provider to make sure that you’re meeting your nutritional needs.
How Can You Get More Omega-3 Fatty Acids?
Omega-3 fatty acids, which include alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), are well known for their cardio-protective effects on the body. Despite the benefits of omega-3s, they’re often left out of a traditional Western diet.
Here are some tips to help you get more omega-3s in your diet:
Expand Your Diet
There’s a reason that omega-3s are almost synonymous with fish oil supplements — fatty fish are great sources of omega-3s, including:
If you don’t already include much seafood in your diet, you may want to branch out and try something new.
Broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, kale, and Brussels sprouts are also sources of omega-3 fatty acids. They don’t contain many of these lipids, but they’re rich in many other nutrients, which makes them a great addition to most diets.
Nuts are a fantastic food source of unsaturated fat — and they make great snacks, too. Try snacking on almonds, walnuts, cashews, or hazelnuts for an energy boost with added health benefits.
Make Your Own Recipes
Omega-3 fats don’t have to be boring — you can use them in all sorts of recipes.
To increase your dietary omega-3s, you can cook up a parmesan and herb-crusted salmon fillet, make a homemade Cesar salad dressing with anchovies, or whip up a quick trail mix.
Plus, since olive oil is a source of both omega-3s and omega-6s, simply changing out your preferred cooking oil can instantly add a few more omega-3s to your diet. Just make sure you choose sources that, when combined, provide all three types of omega-3 fatty acids.
Take a Supplement
If you’re still struggling to get optimal levels of omega-3s from mackerel and sardines alone, then you can always opt for Omega-3 supplements from Love Wellness.
Made with both EPA and DHA, these supplements can operate like premium brain fuel, helping encourage cognitive function and deliver nutrients to the brain for a balanced mood. Simply take one capsule a day, and you’re good to go!
How Can You Get More Omega-6 Fatty Acids?
Omega-6 fatty acids, like linoleic acid (LA), arachidonic acid (ARA), and gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), are also key components of a healthy diet. Plus, they’re a great replacement for saturated fats, which are linked to long-term health consequences.
With this in mind, here are a few tips to help you get more of this essential nutrient:
Snack on Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds are a great source of omega-6 fatty acids, and they’re a snack that you can enjoy in many different ways. Toast them up with some spices for an aromatic, crunchy treat, or add them to your morning smoothie for a nutritional boost.
Eat More Nuts
Nuts can provide omega-6 fatty acids, as well as monounsaturated fats.
Some options include:
- Chia Seeds
- Sunflower seeds
Keep a bowl full of these yummy treats handy to help you get the right amount of omega-6 in your diet.
Substitute With Flaxseed Oil
You can use flaxseed oil (or soybean oil) in salad dressings, smoothies, or as a topping for roasted veggies. Not only is it high in omega-6 fatty acids, but it’s also an excellent source of antioxidants and vitamin E.
Stock Up on Avocados
Avocado is a great plant-based source of healthy fats, including omega-6 fatty acids. Enjoy them mashed up in guacamole, cubed in your favorite salad, or sliced on your favorite sandwich — the possibilities are endless!
Cook With Grapeseed Oil
Grapeseed oil (as well as many other seed oils) is a unique vegetable oil packed full of polyunsaturated fats and can be used for stir-fries, dressings, and even baking. You can use it as a substitute for corn oil, safflower oil, or canola oil in many cases.
The Bottom Line
Both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are essential for good health, but it’s important to maintain a balanced ratio of omega-6s and omega-3s. That omega-6-to-omega-3 ratio is essential for keeping your weight, cholesterol, blood pressure, and overall health in optimal condition.
Eating a diet rich in healthy whole foods like oily fish, vegetables, nuts, and seeds is one of the best ways to ensure you get the most out of these essential fatty acids. However, if you aren’t getting enough omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids from your diet alone, you can always supplement with natural products from Love Wellness.
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