Omega Fatty Acids, Explained.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Almonds are one source of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

“Making informed nutrition and fitness-related decisions can be somewhat overwhelming for those in therapy for eating disorders (anorexia, bulimia, bulimarexia, binge eating disorder) and obesity. To this end, I’ve compiled a set of handouts to provide handy reference guides to both my readers and clients. You can view all my Nutrition and Fitness Handouts here. Be sure to check back frequently, as I am always adding new handouts to my list!”

Omega Fatty Acids can be categorized as either Monounsaturated Fats or Polyunsaturated Fats. Omega-7 Fatty Acids and Omega-9 Fatty Acids are Monounsaturated, while Omega-3, Omega-5 and Omega-6 Fatty Acids are Polyunsaturated.

Omega-3 and Omega-6 Essential Fatty Acids

Omega-3 Fatty Acids are considered to be an Essential Fatty Acid; our bodies need them to function, but are not capable of self-producing. As a result, we need to obtain Omega-3 Fatty Acids from dietary sources. In addition to supporting the heart, brain and eyes, studies show that Omega-3s have a positive impact on:

  • Asthma
  • Diabetes
  • Arthritis
  • Osteoporosis
  • Some Cancers
  • Skin Disorders
  • High Cholesterol
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Attention Disorders
  • Depressive Disorders
  • Macular Degeneration
  • Digestive Difficulties

The most common Omega-3s are α-Linolenic acid (ALA), Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Some good food sources of Omega-3s include:

  • flaxseed/flaxseed oil
  • chia seeds
  • sardines
  • cod liver oil
  • nuts (walnuts, almonds, pistachios)
  • dark leafy greens
  • tuna and wild salmon

Like Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Omega-6 Fatty Acids are also an Essential Fatty Acid. Omega-6s improve hair and skin health. Additionally, studies show that Omega-6s are associated with:

  • regulating pressure in the blood vessels, joints and eyes
  • transporting oxygen from red blood cells to tissues
  • managing proper kidney function
  • dilating or constricting blood vessels
  • regulating muscles and reflexes
  • positive effect on diabetes, arthritis and skin disorders

The most common Omega-6 is Linoleic acid (LA). LA accounts for 85-90% of dietary sources of Omega-6. Some good food sources of Omega-6s include:

  • olives/olive oil
  • nuts
  • chicken
  • eggs
  • avocado
  • flaxseed/flaxseed oil
  • chia seeds
  • pumpkin seeds
  • acai berries

For a larger version of this chart, click HERE.

Omega-5, Omega-7, and Omega-9 – Non-Essential Fatty Acids

Omega-5, 7 and 9 Fatty Acids are Non-Essential Fatty Acids; our bodies need them to function but can produce them without receiving them directly from food. The majority of people get enough of these Omegas from dietary sources, so the need for supplementation is rare. As with all supplements, if you think you aren’t getting enough of these Omegas, you should always consult with your physician before supplementing.

Omega-5 Fatty Acids are believed to have a positive effect on weight-related cardiovascular health and blood sugar balance. Omega-5s can potentially ease the symptoms of menopause due to it’s phytonutrient content. The most common Omega-5s are Punicic Acid (PA) and Myristoleic Acid (MA). Some food sources of Omega-5 include:

  • full-fat grassfed dairy
  • tropical oils (coconut and palm)
  • saw palmetto
  • wild salmon
  • macadamia nuts
  • pomegranate seeds/oil

Studies show that Omega-7 Fatty Acids have a positive effect on healthy weight loss and bowel regularity. Due to the antioxidant and anti-aging properties, Omega-7s also play a rold in nourishing healthy cells, especially in the digestive tract. The most common Omega-7s are Vaccenic Acid (VA) and Palmitoleic Acid (PA). Common food sources are:

  • grassfed meat
  • full-fat grassfed dairy
  • wild-caught salmon
  • macadamia nuts
  • sea buckthorn berries

Omega-9 Fatty Acids are linked with healthy cardiovascular systems, healthy cholesterol levels, improved immune function and healthy blood sugar levels. The most common Omega-9s are Oleic Acid (OA), Eicosatrienoic acid (ETE), and Erucic acid (EA). Natural sources of Omega-9s include:

  • olives/olive oil
  • avocado
  • grassfed meat
  • nuts
  • sesame oil

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Medical Advice Disclaimer: The information included on this site is for educational purposes only. It is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The reader should always consult his or her healthcare provider to determine the appropriateness of the information for their own situation or if they have any questions regarding a medical condition or treatment plan. Reading the information on this website does not create a physician-patient relationship.

© 2012, Dr J Renae Norton. This information is intellectual property of Dr J Renae Norton. Reproduction and distribution for educational purposes is permissible.

Please credit ‘© 2012, Dr J Renae Norton.’

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