Omega-3 Fatty Acids: What They Are, Why You Need Them, And What Foods Are Rich In Them?
What are Omega-3 Fatty Acids?
Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fatty acids found in some foods that play essential roles in metabolism and overall physiology. Humans and other mammals can't synthesize omega-3 fatty acids from other nutrients. The only way we can get omega-3 fatty acids is from our diet, which makes omega-3 fatty acids an essential nutrient by definition.
Why Do You Need Omega-3 Fatty Acids?
Omega-3 fatty acids are present in many foods we eat, including meats and vegetables. However, the real problem is the ratio of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids in these foods. Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids work together to promote health if they're consumed in the right ratio.
Many elements of the American diet, such as vegetable oil that have Omega-3 fatty acids, have far higher levels of Omega-6 fatty acids. Even the foods we consider healthy have unhealthy ratios of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. Meat can contain five times more Omega-6 than Omega-3 fatty acids, and even grass-fed meat doesn't achieve a ratio better than 3:1.
It's no wonder then that people living on the modern American diet can have Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratios of up to 30:1. The ratio for optimal health is 4:1, or even lower, according to some experts. So you don't just need foods high in Omega-3 fatty acids; you also have to look out for foods high in Omega-6 fatty acids. Few foods fit this profile.
Foods Rich In Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Flaxseeds and Chia Seeds:
Most of the common seeds we consume are those that vegetable oil is made of, which is a misnomer because vegetable oils aren't made from vegetables. These seeds have very unhealthy Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratios.
Flaxseeds and chia seeds are the two most notable exceptions. Flax seeds have four times more Omega-3 than Omega-6, while chia seeds have three times more Omega-3. The only problem is that it's hard to consume large enough amounts of these seeds to fix your Omega-3 to Omega-6 ratio.
Green and leafy vegetables have an equal ratio of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. However, processed vegetables such as potato chips are among the worst foods for Omega-3 fatty acids. Growing conditions also play a role in this ratio. Naturally, grown vegetables can have higher levels of Omega-3 fatty acids.
Wild Caught Whitefish
Fish is by far the best way to increase your Omega-3 consumption and balance your Omega-3 to Omega-6 ratio. Wild caught whitefish can have better than 1:1 ratios of Omega-3 and Omega-6. This means consuming wild-caught whitefish can make up for other foods with worse ratios and keep your body healthy.
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