The Omega Factor: Getting to Know Your Fatty Acids
Have you ever been out for dinner with someone trying to lose weight, and as they order their salad they skip the “oily” dressing in an attempt to make a healthier selection? This is a common mistake when it comes to consuming fats. Fats are actually required by certain body structures, such as cell membranes, to operate.
The old saying, “your body needs fat to burn fat” is no urban legend.
In fact, most experts recommend having up to 20% of your daily caloric intake come from sources of unsaturated fat.
The Omega Factor
Omega 3, 6, 9 are three types of unsaturated fats that play a critical role in multiple bodily functions. These fatty acids, also known as Essential Fatty Acids (EFA), are typically healthier than saturated fats and are responsible for aiding in the metabolism of fats in your body. Why are they “Essential”? Well, it turns out that although these fatty acids are vital for normal metabolism, our bodies cannot actually make these fats (at least not 3 and 6) so we rely upon our diet to get these fats into us.
So where do we get these fats from and how much should we be taking?
There are three main types of Omega 3 which we can get through consumption of various foods:
- Alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA, is found in its richest quantities in seeds and seed oils, especially flaxseed oil. Other sources include pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, soybean oil, canola oil, walnuts and walnut oil.
- Eicosapentaenoic acid, or EPA, is found in oily fish such as salmon, herring, mackerel, cod (specifically the liver) and sardines (fish do not actually produce EPA, but instead get it from the algae they consume).
- Docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, is found in its greatest quantities in cold water fish such as salmon, sardines and tuna. DHA is instrumental in the development of the brain and vision.
Consumption of Omega 3 fatty acids offer anti-inflammatory and anti-coagulant properties that help protect you against arthritis, cardiovascular disease, depression and skin conditions. Finally, EFA can also normalize lipid levels, lower blood pressure and aid in the metabolism of glucose.
Not a fan of fish? Have no fear. ALLMAX Nutrition offers a rich source of Omega 3 in an easy-to-swallow soft gel made from only fresh cold water fish. Each capsule contains a 180:120 ratio of EPA to DHA that helps with cognitive function. Also, studies suggest that by supplementing only 3 g of Omega 3 into your diet daily can help you achieve an ideal and healthy body weight. Note that it is not recommended to consume more than 3g of Omega 3 in a single day.
The most common Omega 6 fatty acid, linoleic acid, is found in a wide variety of foods including leafy vegetables, seeds, nuts, grains and vegetable oils.
The greatest concentration of Omega 6 can be found in safflower oil, which is known to have numerous health benefits, including increasing your ability to burn fat by triggering the body’s brown fat cells to burn more calories. It is also known to lower cholesterol and regulate blood sugar levels.
CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) is a naturally occurring fatty acid found in trace amounts in most meats, cheeses and dairy products. It’s responsible for preventing the transfer of fat cells in the blood to fat cells (for storage). It also helps to stimulate the breakdown of stored body fat. Check out our fat burning superstar CLA95.
In addition to its fat burning properties, Omega 6 is also a promoter of healthy skin, hair and nails.
Omega 9 is a monounsaturated fat that, although grouped with Omega 3 and 6, is not technically an essential fatty acid due to the fact that the body can produce small amounts of it on its own. The most common form of Omega 9, oleic acid, is found in canola, sunflower and, most notably, olive oil. The known benefits of Omega 9 include reducing insulin resistance, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke, as well as increasing the production of HDL (“good cholesterol”) and reducing LDL (“bad cholesterol”).
Keeping it Balanced
It’s important to keep in mind that Omega 6 and 3 fatty acids interact with one another, so a balance between them is crucial for good health, with the optimal ratio thought to be 4 to 1 (Omega 6 to Omega 3) or lower.
And remember, to stay sharp and keep your mental acuity at its peak, it’s imperative to consume these EFAs on a daily basis. As an added bonus, healthy EFA levels can actually help create a level of saiety in your mind, helping to fend off cravings and keep you feeling fuller for longer.
So now you know. Ensuring that you consume your 3, 6, and 9s every day can help you achieve the body and health that you want.