It is commonly believed that one of the better ways to ensure your daily diet consists of a balanced amount of essential omega fatty acids is by eating omega-rich foods! Yes, you can also take omega-3,6 and even 9 supplements if you are worried about not consuming enough omega-3 and 6 through the foods you eat. After all, omega-3 and 6 are essential for the body; plus need to be consumed or supplemented as the body cannot produce the vital fatty acids themselves. Whereas omega-9 can be made inside the body using various other nutrients. Even though only omega-3 and 6 are considered essential, all three types are still important. A healthy balance of all omega fatty acids will help keep the body healthy and aid in natural functions like cognitive immunity support. So, are omega-3,6 and 9 all an important part of a (balanced) healthy diet? Yes! When adding omega to your diet, you have options regarding how you consume the fatty acids. You can either:
- Take omega supplements
- Eat omega-rich foods
In most cases, different omega fatty acids are found in different foods. So let's now take a look at what foods are naturally rich in omega-3, 6 and 9…
Do different foods contain different types of omega fatty acids?
Omega-3,6 and 9 fatty acids do (in most cases) come from different food sources. There is some crossover in terms of oils and meat sources but generally, you would need to ensure your diet consists of a healthy balance of all the essential omega fatty acids. To put it simply, the easiest way to remember is the following…
- The majority of omega-3 fatty acids (DHA, EPA) come from fish and seafood. Then ALA fatty acid can be found in various vegetable oils.
- You can get most of your omega-6 (also) from various vegetable oils which can be found in seeds and nuts.
- Then, for omega-9, you can be found in the majority of plant, nut and seed-based oils.
So, let's break those down separately and take a deeper look at specific examples of foods that contain omega-3,6 and 9; starting with (arguably) the most important - Omega-3…
What foods contain omega-3?
The majority of omega-3 fatty acids are going to come from fish, seafood or various vegetable oils like we previously mentioned, but which ones exactly and why is it so important to have omega-3 fatty acids as part of our diet? Well, omega-3 is an integral part of cell membranes that serge throughout your entire body, all serving their function and purpose. For the most part, they provide the beginning point for the hormones responsible for inflammation and even regulating blood clotting (amongst their other health benefits). You can sometimes experience symptoms of an omega-3 deficiency that include dry skin, heart problems, mood swings and poor circulation. That's why omega-3 fatty acids are so important for the body! So, what foods exactly can you eat to boost your omega-3 fatty acid levels?...
- Fish: Mackerel, Salmon, Cod Liver Oil, Herring, Oysters, Sardines and Anchovies.
- Seeds/nuts: Flaxseed, Walnuts and Chia seeds.
- Others: Soybeans, eggs, dairy products, hemp seeds, spinach and sprouts*
*The ‘other’ sources of omega-3 do not contain as high levels of EPA and DHA fatty acids as various oil fish does. The same with ALA fatty acids, they can be found in various seeds; some having more fatty acids than others!
What foods contain omega-6?
Just like we need omega-3, we also need omega-6 fatty acids for various reasons. Omega-6 fatty acids play an important role in our brain function, growth, and development. Omega-6 is a type of polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) which means it can stimulate hair growth, repair skin, maintain bone, and regulate metabolism. Both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are essential for the body in many of the ways we have mentioned, that's why having a balanced amount of fatty acids in our diet is crucial. You can take omega supplements if you prefer, but you'll likely be able to add omega-6-rich foods into your diet pretty easily; you might already consuming a regulated amount of omega-6 from the following foods:
- Safflower oil, Avocado oil, Sunflower oil
- Walnuts, Almonds, Cashews, Sunflower seeds, Hemp-seeds and Peanut butter
- Tofu, eggs and Soybeans.
To clarify, omega-6 fatty acids are essential fat that your body needs as it plays an important role in our overall health; various nuts, seed and vegetable oils are all great sources of fatty acids.
What foods contain omega-9?
All three types of omega are important; their fatty acids all play a role in our overall health. So, to discount or ‘not bother’ about omega-9 is not advised. Even though the body can produce its omega-9 from various nutrients inside it, if it was not important, the body wouldn't produce it. Therefore you can still consume omega-9 fatty acids as a part of your daily diet so long as they are balanced with the essential omega-3 and 6. Here are some of the foods that are known to be rich in omega-9 fatty acids…
- Safflower oil, sunflower oil, olive oil, soybean oil, canola oil and avocado oil.
- Macadamia nut, hazelnut and almond butter.
You may have spotted some overlay with some of the sources of omega fatty acids and that's generally beneficial to help ensure that the balance of fatty acids is healthy and stable. Different omega-3,6 and even 9 fatty acids will all have different effects on the body, which is why a healthy balance is so important in supporting our overall health!For additional support on the topic of omega-3, 6 and 9; which includes their benefits and how to take them, be sure to check out our Health Insider Blog! We have published several posts that you may find helpful. If, after reading through our blog, you still need further assistance with a personal query then you can send our experts a DM on Instagram and they will help you with any questions you may still have.