We’ve all heard we need more omegas in our diet, but what are they and why do we need them? Omega-3 and omega-6 are essential fatty acids, this means that our body cannot make them on it’s own and we must get them from our diet.
Omega-3 are the harder of the two to get from a modern diet. There are two omega-3 fatty acids in which our body needs: EPA and DHA. EPA and DHA are the building blocks for hormones, which control immune function as well as blood clotting and cell growth.
You can get omega-3 from cold-water fish including; salmon, herring, sardines, and mackerel among others. Some vegetarian sources include walnuts and flaxseeds.
Omega-6 fatty acids are much easier to find in modern diets. They are found in things such as seeds, nuts, and the oil from them. Refined vegetable oils (soy oil) are used in the majority of processed snack foods and sweets in the typical American diet. These oils are also abundant in fast foods making omega-6 fatty acids much easier to come by.
Omega-6 fatty acids also aid in constructing hormones and tend to increase inflammation (important for immune response), blood clotting, and cell proliferation.
Omega-3 and omega-6 tend to have almost opposite effects in our bodies so it is important to eat a balanced amount of each. You should not be consuming the majority of one and little to none of the other.