What Are Omega Fatty Acids 3, 6, and 9?

14 August, 2020
Have you ever heard of Omega fatty acids? In this article, we'll tell you all about Omega 3, Omega 6, and Omega 9. Discover their many benefits!

Lately, it seems like everybody’s talking about Omega fatty acids 3, 6, and 9. So, what exactly are they and why do our bodies need them? In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know to understand their nutritional importance.

Don’t hesitate to make them part of your diet!

Omega fatty acids are fundamental when it comes to the functioning of our bodies. What’s more, they offer a series of benefits for our health, which we’ll describe below.

Omega fatty acids 3, 6, and 9: What you need to know

Sources of Omega fatty acids.
Our bodies need Omega fatty acids in order to function properly.

Basically, fatty acids are “good” fats that help our bodies in many different ways. Depending on the double bonds that make them up, they are classified with a certain generation. In other words, their composition determines whether they are Omega 3, Omega 6, or Omega 9.

What are the essential fatty acids?

So-called “essential” fatty acids are those that our bodies don’t synthesize on their own. Therefore, we must consume foods that contain them. These essential fatty acids are Omega 3 (alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA) and Omega 6 (linoleic acid). The numbers that accompany them indicate their structural formation:

  • Omega 3 fatty acid possesses a double bond in its structure in position 3.
  • At the same time, Omega 6 possesses a double bond in position 6.

Once these acids enter the body, they transform into other polyunsaturated fats like eicosapentaenoic acid, arachidonic acid, or docosahexaenoic acid. It’s worth mentioning that polyunsaturated fats help to keep our cell membranes in proper condition.

What’s more, they’re also responsible for producing prostaglandins, hormones that regulate a serious of body processes like blood coagulation. They also help to absorb and transport liposoluble vitamins (A, D, E y K).

Next, we’ll take a look at each of these different fatty acids and their particular benefits.

You may also want to read: The Health Benefits of Conjugated Linoleic Acids

1. The benefits of Omega 3 fatty acids

Omega 3 fatty acids.
Omega 3 is present in foods like oily fish, avocado, and almonds.

There are different types of Omega 3 depending on their atomic composition. Below, we’ll look at the principal benefits they offer to the entire family when we include them in our diet:

  • Omega 3 increases our “good” cholesterol levels and also reduces the presence of triglycerides.
  • Also, it contributes to lowering blood pressure.
  • Consuming Omega 3, combined with regular physical exercise, reduces the risk of cardiovascular illnesses.
  • Some studies point out that the administration of Omega 3 may prevent fatty liver disease.
  • Also, it may help prevent the appearance of dementia.
  • Omega 3 fatty acids aid in the brain development of babies. This is why doctors recommend that mothers take Omega 3 during gestation and lactation. What’s more, later in they recommend including it in children’s diets.
  • It helps promote improved bone density.
  • Omega 3 fatty acids contribute to blood coagulation.

The World Health Organization recommends at least two portions of oily fish per week given their rich Omega 3 fatty acid content.

If you don’t like fish, however, there’s no need to worry. You can find Omega 3 in other foods, as well. For example, seafood (muscles and oysters), spinach, Brussel sprouts, cucumber, strawberries, pineapple, almonds, walnuts, and others.

2. The benefits of Omega 6 fatty acids

Eggs provide Omega 6 fatty acids.
Eggs are a natural source of Omega 6.

Our bodies use Omega 6 fatty acids mainly as an energy source. However, some studies have indicated that their consumption offers more benefits than just energy:

  • Gamma linoleic acid, one of the Omega 6 fatty acids, helps to reduce the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Also, consuming linoleic acid regularly reduces body fat, according to a 2007 study.

Of course, the benefits that both Omega 3 and Omega 6 offer depend on their adequate consumption. In other words, consuming an insufficient amount of either will not produce these benefits. In the same way, an imbalance between the intake of both Omega fatty acids could lead to health problems.

Among the main sources of Omega 6, we find sunflower seed oil, squash, nuts, eggs, and wheat germ. Talk with your doctor about the possibility of needing to increase your intake of Omega 6. Remember that you need to consume an adequate but not an excessive amount.

Discover more: 5 Signs That You’re Deficient in Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Acids

3. The benefits of Omega 9 fatty acid

Omega 9 fatty acid.
Oleic acid, one of the Omega 9 fatty acids, is present in olive oil.

Omega 9 is a monounsaturated fatty acid with a single double bond in position 9. Unlike essential fatty acids, our bodies can synthesize this type of oil. Two of its main acids are erucic acid, which is present in canola oil, and oleic acid. We find the latter in one of the pillars of the Mediterranean diet: olive oil.

Experts recommend consuming Omega 9 regularly. Even though our bodies synthesize it, its consumption offers a variety of benefits. In fact, Omega 9 fatty acids are the most abundant fats in our cells:

  • An analysis of different studies revealed that diets high in Omega 9 fats helped to increase HDL (good) cholesterol levels, without causing an increase in bad cholesterol levels.
  • Another study observed that people that follow a diet in monounsaturated fats have a higher sensitivity to insulin.

Be sure to include adequate amounts of Omega fatty acids 3, 6, and 9 habitually in your diet. If you have any doubts or concerns, don’t hesitate to talk to a nutritionist or doctor. He or she will be able to guide you and design a menu that meets your nutritional needs.

  • Hill AM., Buckley JD., Murphy KJ., Howe PRC., Combining fish oil supplements with regular aerobic exercise improves body composition and cardiovascular disease risk factors. Am J Clin Nutr, 2007. 85 (5): 1267-74.
  • Whighma LD., Watras AC., Schoeller DA., Efficacy of conjugated linoleic acid for reducing fat mass: a meta analysis in humans. Am J Clin Nutr, 2007. 85 (5): 1203-11.
  • Dong Soon I., FF4 (GPR120) as a fatty acid sensor involved in appetite control, insulin sensitivity and inflammation regulation. Mol Aspects Med, 2018. 64: 92-108.