We hear more and more that fats are essential for the proper functioning of our body and that they should be part of our diet. Our body needs fat for various functions such as producing hormones, exerting a supporting effect and protecting the plasma membrane of our cells and they are the essential component for the correct functioning of our brain.
1. What are Omega 3 and Omega 6 fats for?
Through food we consume fats, but we must take into account that there are various types of fats and sources. Specifically, there are two fatty acids that are essential, these are the well-known omega 3 and omega 6. What does it mean that they are essential? Well, our body is incapable of synthesizing them, and therefore we must acquire them through correct nutrition.
Omegas participate in the formation of cell membranes, brain development, the elasticity of blood vessels, coagulation and the inflammatory and immune response.
Now, we must differentiate them:
- Omega 6 , when we ingest them, transforms into leukotrienes, which are inflammatory substances. For example, when we have a wound our body goes into an alert system because inflammation has occurred and these omega 6 are useful to repair wounds or any physical damage.
- Omega 3 , when we ingest them, are transformed into docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). These two acids are very important, since they are ANTI-INFLAMMATORY , anticoagulants and prevent uncontrolled cell development.
2. Classification of fats
The function of fats is to provide us with structure and energy, being present in both foods of animal and plant origin.
They are classified into fatty acids, triglycerides, phospholipids, lipoproteins and steroids. We are going to focus on fatty acids, these are classified as:
- Saturated fatty acids (butyric, lauric, palmitic, stearic and myristic).
- Unsaturated fatty acids: within these they are classified as:
- Monounsaturated fatty acids: Oleic acid (Olive oil, avocado and peanuts, organic açai ).
- Polyunsaturated fatty acids: Linoleic, linolenic and arachidonic acid (flax seed oils, sesame, wheat germ, evening primrose, pumpkin, borage, etc.).
Omega 6 Series
Omega 3 Series
GLA: Evening Primrose and Borage Oil
ALA: nuts, hemp, chia
EPA: Blue Fish
AA: Arachidonic Acid
DHA: Algae (Spirulina)
3. Imbalance of Omega 3 and Omega 6
Stress, high levels of insulin, low levels of omega 3 and excessive consumption of red meat cause an increase in Arachidonic Acid (AA), producing an inflammatory effect in our body. Exerting a procoagulant effect (ability to form clots in our arteries) and vasoconstrictor effect (reduces the diameter of our blood vessels). On the other hand, Eicosapentaenoid Acid (EPA) does the opposite to AA, since it It exerts an anti-inflammatory, anticoagulant and antivasoconstrictor action.
Ideally, we would ingest both omegas in the appropriate proportion. But unfortunately, today with the diet that society is following there is a greater consumption of Omega 6, and the balance of these omegas is unbalanced.
This excess of Omega 6 produces inflammation in our body, and this inflammation is what causes the vast majority of chronic inflammatory diseases.
So you have to keep the balance of these fatty acids balanced and eat them with foods rich in omega 3 and omega 6.
But beware! Now don't stop consuming omega 6, since it is necessary, what needs to be reduced are trans fats.
Trans fats are the industrially manipulated omega 6 found in pastries, French fries, margarines and refined vegetable oils. These types of foods are the ones that we must eliminate since they do not contribute anything good to our health, and they are the ones that cause the current chronic diseases.
4. Benefits of consuming omega 3
- Anti-inflammatory : omega 3 decrease the production of substances that cause inflammation.
- They contribute to the maintenance of cardiac function , improving the markers that promote cardiovascular diseases.
- Regulate and reduce blood pressure levels
- They maintain constant levels of triglycerides in the blood
- They reduce blood cholesterol levels, specifically LDL (“bad cholesterol”) and keep HDL and LDL levels constant.
- Brain development of the fetus , which is why it is indicated during pregnancy.
- Greater visual acuity . It has been seen that omega 3 is a main component for the retina of the eye and the brain. Helps improve vision problems.
- They improve sleep: low levels of omega 3 have been seen to cause sleep problems in both children and adults.
- They help improve the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis , since omega 3 fatty acids increase calcium levels so that it is fixed efficiently in the bones and reducing the inflammation of the bones and joints typical of this disease.
- Reduces the risk of Alzheimer's disease and dementia .
5. Foods rich in Omega 3 and Omega 6
Where are Omega 6 ?
- Vegetable Source: in vegetable oils such as sunflower, corn and soybean. (and their respective seeds)
- Animal Source: They are found in the form of arachidonic acid and are found in red meat, organ meats, dairy products and eggs.
Where are Omega 3 ?
- Vegetable Source: chia seeds, hemp seeds, nuts and source of green vegetables such as spirulina algae .
- Animal Source: blue fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel and sardines), seaweed and breast milk.
Therefore, the recommendation is to increase the intake of oily fish, nuts, seeds and algae to provide omega 3 in our diet. And regarding the intake of omega 6, it is easily found in our daily diet and we consume it without problems. If, due to any pathology or situation, it is not ingested through these sources, there is supplementation that is a good alternative to keep us away from inflammation.
That said, we can affirm that fats are necessary and good for our health. If you haven't read the post about not all fats being bad , I'm attaching the link so you don't miss it. Of course, we must always choose sources of healthy fat that provide us with benefits such as chia seeds, hemp, nuts, fish, and avocado.