One of the most important aspects of any person’s health and fitness journey is always going to be their diet. In modern times, the word ‘diet’ has taken on almost as negative a meaning as the word ‘fat’. In all reality though, the concept of a diet shouldn’t be something that scares people but something that people know how to handle correctly.
Fats, carbs, and proteins are all necessary factors that make a successful and healthy diet, and there are a lot of ways that people can learn how to get the most out of these nutrients. While there can be a lot of benefits from specific short-term diets, culturally these ‘fad’ diets have taken on a negative meaning that has created a lot of dread and fear around the concepts of nutrition. Instead of food being the most exciting and empowering part of a person’s fitness journey, often food is viewed as the enemy.
The simple truth is, you have to eat! No matter who you are and no matter what your health and fitness goals may be, eating and diet are essential elements that can’t be ignored. The hard part is trying to learn what to eat.
One element of what makes up a healthy diet that should never be ignored is fats. Fats, until the 70s, were never viewed as a negative part of anyone’s regular dietary habits. In fact, for most of the world eating fats is a necessary part of nutrition and is not viewed as a source of ‘body fat’ but instead as a source of energy and sustenance.
Associating the desire to lose weight with the elimination of fats from your diet is something that can be a detriment to your health and fitness journey. In particular, omega fats that are taken in through diet provide a rich source of nutritional power that can help you reach your health and fitness goals.
If you have been curious about how healthy, natural fats can powerfully move your health journey forward, here is everything you need to know.
What are essential fatty acids?
Essential fatty acids like the Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids are considered essential because the body cannot synthesise them. This means that these fatty acids need to be taken in through a person’s diet. Fatty acids are characterised by a long string of carbons chains that are attached to what is called the carboxyl group.
These particular molecules play a lot of vital roles in the human body and fats, in general, are one of the most efficient ways for the body to store energy. When it comes to Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, the body has several important uses for these molecules which makes their consumption necessary to support good health.
To better understand omega-6 vs. omega-3 fatty acids, what they are, what kind of benefit they bring, and how to get them into your diet, let’s take a closer look at each individually.
What is an Omega-3 fatty Acid?
An omega-3 fatty acid is considered an essential fatty acid that has three common types:
Both EPA and DHA are found most commonly in fish and in algae. Both fish and algae supplements can supply rich amounts of EPA and DHA, while ALA is a plant-based source of Omega-3s.
What are the benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids?
Omega-3s play a lot of vital roles in the human body which makes them very important to include in any kind of dietary routine. On a cellular level, they play an important role in helping maintain the health of the cell wall but this isn’t all that they do.
EPA has been linked to things like immune system health and is also thought to help fight depression. DHA has been linked to cognitive development, and fetal development making it an important part of prenatal vitamins and daily nutrition. As mentioned earlier, fats are the most efficient method of energy storage that the body has, and ALA fatty acids are most associated with energy consumption.
What is an Omega-6?
An Omega-6 refers to a fatty acid that has its first double-bonded carbon on the 6th carbon, as opposed to the 3rd carbon of the Omega-3. These fats are much more present in the western diet because they are found in plant oils, nuts, and seeds that are often used for cooking. There are four prevalent kinds of omega-6 fatty acids:
- Linolic Acid
Omega-6 fatty acids are most often associated with energy consumption. Some GLA is considered to play an important role in bone health and CLA is thought to help contribute to healthy weight maintenance.
Fatty acids are an important part of a nutritious and balanced diet, and because the body doesn’t synthesise omega-3 and omega-6, they are essential. While you can add these fats into your diet through fish, and seed oils, you can also supplement your diet with omega-fatty acid supplements to get the same great effects.
Tommy Williamson did his degree in psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. He is interested in mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.