Omega fatty acids are essential to our overall health and well-being. These fats help us build healthy cells, maintain brain and nerve function, and even lower risk of heart disease and protect against type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and age-related mental and physical decline.
However, our bodies do not make omega-3 or omega-6 fatty acids. If we don’t get them in food or supplement form, we don’t get them at all, which is bad for our health.
Both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids with different chemical structures. The body needs two critical fatty acids in particular: EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic), both of which serve as the building blocks for the hormones that control the body’s immune function, cell growth and membrane development and maintenance, and blood clotting.
Omega-6 can be found as linoleic acid in nuts and seeds, as well as plant oils, including corn oil, soybean oil, and sunflower oil. According to the American Heart Association, at least 5% to 10% of your food calories should derive from omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids can be found in fatty fish, including salmon, mackerel, and tuna, and in nuts, including walnuts and flaxseed. Both are also available in supplement form. Nordic Naturals makes excellent capsules that contain essential fatty acids.
While both omega-3 and omega-6 should be incorporated into your diet, some researchers believe that one is more important than the other. Individuals in this camp believe that omega-3 fatty acids, found most frequently in fish, are most vital. However, these experts also state that omega-6 competes with omega-3 in the body, so getting the correct ratio is vital. This “golden ratio,” according to Artemis Simopolous, MD, Director of the Center for Genetics, Nutrition, and Health, is “one to one or two to one, omega-6 to omega-3.” However, because the American diet is full of omega-6-rich vegetable oils, including corn and safflower, we may be getting more than we need, in amounts that may even counter the effects of a diet rich in fish. However, other researchers disagree. The American Heart Association issued a scientific advisory in 2009, insisting that the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 does not matter, as both are beneficial to the body.
If you are looking to boost your immunity, cellular health, and prevent both heart disease and Alzheimer’s, incorporating essential fatty acids into your diet is vital. Experts on both sides agree that eating sources of omega-3 fats is a great choice for your health. While most Americans are getting enough omega-6, eating fatty fish, such as salmon, twice a week, can establish healthy levels. Your body thrives or deteriorates based on the food you give it. If you are looking for more nutritional tips, contact our team at Water’s Edge Natural Medicine. You can count on exceptional nutritional counseling that balances your body and mind.
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