Omega oils (3,6 & 9)
Omega oils are essential for the human body. Most sources of these oils come from oily fish but if you’re vegetarian or have a fish allergy, obviously consuming fish is not an option. There are other alternatives and including these foods in your diet will benefit your health and your childs.
A major review published in the British Medical Journal (Hooper et al., 2006) supports the view that pollutants in fish, such as mercury, dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls, may cancel out the beneficial effects of the ‘good’ omega-3 fats they contain.
What are Omega oils?
There are many names and abbreviations used to describe these fatty acids. EFA, DHA, EPA, GLA and ALA for example are abbreviations for Essential fatty acids (EFA), Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). ALA also makes DHA and EPA.
Omega-3′s are polyunsaturated fatty acids important for brain function, growth and development. Omega-3 fatty acids can lower blood pressure, reduce cholesterol levels and prevent heart disease.
One teaspoon of flaxseed oil or one-and-a-half tablespoons of ground flaxseed a day should provide most people with enough omega-3 fats.
Omega 3 sources:
- Chia seeds
- Rapeseed oil
- Pumpkin seeds
- Canola oil
- Safflower oil
- Vegetables such as spinach, kale, brocolli, cauliflower and winter squash
- Omega enriched eggs
The body constructs hormones from omega 6 fatty acids. Hormones derived from the two classes of essential fatty acids (3 & 6) have opposite effects. Those from omega-6 fatty acids tend to increase inflammation whilst Omega 3 reduces inflammation. Both families of hormones must be in balance to maintain optimum health.
Omega-6 oil is a polyunsaturated fat and is helpful in providing the building blocks of essential fats your body needs. Your body takes omega-6 oils to maintain cell wall integrity and provide energy for the heart. Primary sources of this polyunsaturated fat include soybean and other vegetable oils such as safflower and sunflower oils, sunflower seeds, pine nuts, pecans, sesame seeds and oil, and corn oil.
Omega 6 sources:
- Soybean oil
- Safflower oil
- Sunflower seeds
- Pine nuts
- Sesame seeds
- Sesame oil
This fatty acid lower total and LDL cholesterol levels and has the potential to increase HDL (good) cholesterol. While it’s not an essentail fatty acid it is beneficial to include in a healthy diet.
Omega 9 sources:
- Olive oil