Difference between omega-3 and omega-6 fats and which one is healthy
Not all fat is bad! The connotations associated with the word ‘fat’ have mostly been negative and the everyday jargon has left no room for belief in the phrase ‘good fat’; be it in terms of the body or the component of food. No matter what the popular belief says, the truth is that fats are categorized into two parts, good and bad. Saturated and trans-fatty acids are called bad fats and are bad for our overall health. They can raise cholesterol, clog arteries and increase the risk of heart diseases. Mono-saturated and poly-saturated fats are called good fats because of the benefits that they have in terms of heart health and cholesterol.
Omega-3 is a widely known fatty acid that is unsaturated. With double bonds between the carbon atoms that are third and second from the end of the hydrocarbon chain, Omega-3 is mostly found in fish oils and helps maintain heart, liver, lungs, blood vessels and immune health. The structure of the cell wall is also maintained by omega-3 fatty acids. The main three kinds of Omega-3 fatty acids are
– ALA (alpha linolenic acid)
– DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid)
– EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid)
The main sources of omega-3 fatty acids are fish and other sea foods, especially cold water fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, tuna and sardines. Nuts and seeds are also rich in Omega-3 fatty acids and should be consumed on a regular basis so as to ensure a good dose of the same. Plant oils such as flaxseed oil, soybean oil and canola oil are great sources of omega-3 fatty acids.
A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acid ensures good heart and lung health. It is also beneficial for people who have cardiovascular diseases as it prevents blood platelets from clumping together. It aids in maintaining eye health and mental disorders such as anxiety, ADHD in children and depression.
Omega-6Even though omega-3 is known to most of us, omega-6 remains relatively unknown to most. Omega-6 is also a type of healthy unsaturated fats. Just like Omega-3 fats, the body also requires omega-6 fatty acids which regulates genes and promotes immune health. There are four main types of Omega-6 fats:
– LA (Linoleic acid)
– ARA (Arachidonic Acid)
– GLA (Gamma linolenic)
– CLA (Conjugated linolenic acid)
Seeds such as hemp, sunflower are rich in omega-6 fatty acid. Oils such as avocado and safflower are also rich in omega-6 and nuts including walnuts and cashews can provide you with the required amount of omega-6 fatty acids. Eggs are also a great source of the same.
The fatty acid helps maintain heart health and is a key factor that regulates brain function for normal growth and development. It also stimulates skin and hair growth, maintains bone health, regulates metabolism and helps maintain the reproductive system.