The Truth About Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids mayِ comeِ from fish, butِ there’s nothingِ fishy aboutِ their disease-fighting qualities, especiallyِ when itِ comesِ to yourِ heart.
Omega-3s fall intoِ a category ofِ fat called polyunsaturated fatty acids, andِ very generally, theseِ areِ healthier thanِ saturated fats.
But omega-3s andِ omega-6s areِ different, andِ in modern Western diets, omega-6 fatty acids typically outnumber omega-3s byِ a factor ofِ ten orِ more.
Enter the omegas
Fat molecules lookِ somewhat likeِ a jellyfish withِ threeِ tentacles.
Each tentacle, called a fatty acid, isِ a long chain ofِ carbon atoms.
Infographic: Different Kinds ofِ Fat Explained] Omega-3s andِ omega-6s differ inِ terms ofِ where inِ the chain theِ kinks occur.
Both omega-3s andِ omega-6s areِ essential fatty acids, meaning thatِ your body can’tِ make them, soِ you haveِ to acquire themِ through yourِ diet.
Once youِ eat them, theِ body changesِ them intoِ a variety ofِ useful molecules, butِ there’s a catch: omega-3s andِ -6s compete forِ some ofِ the sameِ modification machinery.
This competition effect isِ troubling becauseِ among theِ manyِ uses theِ body hasِ forِ omega-3s andِ -6s, itِ converts themِ to signaling molecules called eicosanoids, whichِ promote unhealthy amounts inflammation, blood coagulation, andِ blood vessel constriction.
Other benefits and concerns
Omega-3s haveِ wide-reaching effects beyondِ the heart.
A lack ofِ a specific type ofِ omega-3 foundِ in fish increases risk ofِ Alzheimer’s disease.
Omega-3s mayِ lowerِ blood serum triglyceride levels, whichِ isِ beneficial forِ people whoِ haveِ diabetes mellitus.
Foods that have omega-3s
Canola andِ flax seed oil andِ walnuts containِ some, butِ not all, ofِ the omega-3 fatty acids.
Sources ofِ omega-6s include soy, safflower, corn andِ sesame oil.
One wayِ toِ skew yourِ ratio ofِ omega fatty acids towardsِ omega-3s isِ to cook withِ olive oil, whichِ doesِ not containِ omega-3s orِ -6s, insteadِ of vegetable oils likeِ corn oil.