Your Complete Guide to Omega-3-6-9 Fatty Acids
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What Are Omega-9 Fatty Acids?
Omega-9 fatty acids are monounsaturated, meaning they only have one double bond.
It is located nine carbons from the omega end of the fatty acid molecule.
Oleic acid is the most common omega-9 fatty acid and the most common monounsaturated fatty acid in the diet.
Omega-9 fatty acids aren't strictly "essential," meaning they can be produced by the body. In fact, omega-9 fats are the most abundant fats in most cells in the body.
However, consuming foods rich in omega-9 fatty acids instead of other types of fat may have a number of beneficial health effects.
One large study found that high-monounsaturated fat diets could reduce plasma triglycerides by 19 percent and "bad" very-low-density-lipoprotein (VLDL) cholesterol by 22 percent in patients with diabetes (41).
The same study found that humans who ate high-monounsaturated fat diets had less inflammation and better insulin sensitivity than those who ate diets high in saturated fat (42).
Summary: Omega-9 fats are non-essential fats, since they can be produced by the body. Diets that replace some saturated fats with omega-9 fats may have benefits for metabolic health.
Which Foods Contain These Fats?
You can easily obtain omega-3, -6 and -9 fatty acids from your diet.
However, it is important to get the right balance of each. The Western diet contains far more omega-6 fats than necessary and not enough omega-3 fats.
Here is a list of foods that are high in omega-3, -6 and -9 fatty acids.
Foods High in Omega-3 Fats
The best source of omega-3 EPA and DHA is oily fish.
However, you can also obtain these omega-3s from other marine sources, such as algal oils. ALA, on the other hand, is mainly obtained from nuts and seeds.
There are no official standards for daily omega-3 intake, but various organizations offer guidelines.
According to the Food and Nutrition Board of the US Institute of Medicine, the adequate intake of omega-3s per day is 1.6 grams for men and 1.1 grams for women, for adults 19 years and over (43).
Here are the amounts and types of omega-3s in one serving of the following foods:
- Salmon: 4.0 grams EPA and DHA
- Mackerel: 3.0 grams EPA and DHA
- Sardines: 2.2 grams EPA and DHA
- Anchovies: 1.0 grams EPA and DHA
- Chia seeds: 4.9 grams ALA
- Walnuts: 2.5 grams ALA
- Flaxseeds: 2.3 grams ALA
Foods High in Omega-6 Fats
Omega-6 fats are found in large amounts in refined vegetable oils and foods cooked in vegetable oils.
Nuts and seeds also contain significant amounts of omega-6 fatty acids.
According to the Food and Nutrition Board of the US Institute of Medicine, the adequate intake of omega-6s per day is 17 grams for men and 12 grams for women, for adults from 19–50 years old (43).
Here are the amounts of omega-6s in 100 grams (3.5 oz) of the following foods:
- Soybean oil: 50 grams
- Corn oil: 49 grams
- Mayonnaise: 39 grams
- Walnuts: 37 grams
- Sunflower seeds: 34 grams
- Almonds: 12 grams
- Cashew nuts: 8 grams
As you can see, it is very easy to get more than enough omega-6s through your diet.