Omega 3, 6, & 9 - what are they?

Omega 3, 6, & 9 - what are they?

Only two fatty acids are known to be essential for humans: alpha-linolenic acid (an omega-3 fatty acid) and linoleic acid (an omega-6 fatty acid). Unlike 3 and 6, Omega 9 is not an "essential" acid but is beneficial to the body.

Omega 3 is a polyunsaturated essential fat that needs to be consumed as it cannot be made in the body. Omega 3โ€™s have many health benefits including: improving heart and mental health, assisting in weight management, they are important for infant brain development and prevention of degenerative diseases such as Dementia, improving bone health and reducing inflammation. There are three main types: Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA), and Alpha-Linoleic Acid (ALA).

Omega 6 is also a polyunsaturated essential fat primarily used for energy. Omega 6 contains Gamma-Linolenic Acid (GLA), which may be useful in rheumatoid arthritis and breast cancer, and Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) which has a role in metabolism and weight management.

Although considered an essential fat, omega 6 needs to be well balanced with omega 3 to ensure a healthy ratio of 4:1 or less.

Omega 9 is a monounsaturated fat, the most common being oleic acid. Unlike omegas 3 and 6, omega 9 can be made in the body. It has many health benefits including; improving insulin sensitivity, balancing cholesterol, reducing inflammation and improving immune health.

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Steph Lowe

Steph Lowe is a Sports Nutritionist (BSpExSc GDipHumNutr), triathlete, founder of The Natural Nutritionist, a hub for celebrating the importance of real food, and author of The Real Food Athlete.

With a passion for spreading a positive message about real food and the incredible effect it has on performance, Steph launched The Natural Nutritionist in 2011 and is on a mission to inspire others to make health a priority in their lives.