Understanding Omega Fatty Acids

Posted: Dec 13 in Post-Bariatric Diet by

Many weight loss plans recommend getting plenty of unsaturated fats, or “omega” fatty acids, but did you know there is more than one kind of omega fatty acid? Which ones should you be trying to get more of, and which ones should you avoid?


Omega-3 fatty acids are one of the essential fatty acids. That means that they are necessary for our health, but not naturally made by our bodies. Omega-3 fatty acids are linked to reducing heart disease, cancer, and a variety of inflammatory diseases.

Foods with omega-3 fatty acids: flaxseeds, flaxseed oil, canola oil, hemp, walnuts and walnut oil, salmon, tuna, halibut, mackerel and herring

The FDA recommends 3 grams of omega-3 fatty acids a day from food sources.


Like omega-3 fatty acids, omega-6 fatty acids are technically considered essential fatty acids. However, most Americans consume 10 times more omega-6 fatty acids than necessary. Too many omega-6 fatty acids combined with not enough omega-3 fatty acids can cause chronic diseases. The ideal ratio of omega-6 fatty acids to omega-3 fatty is 4-to-1, while most Americans experience a ratio between 14-to-1 and 25-to-1. Because of this typically high unhealthy ratio, it’s recommended that most Americans attempt to limit their consumption of omega-6 fatty acids while increasing their omega-3s.

Foods with omega-6 fatty acids: sunflower, safflower, corn, cottonseed, soybean oils, egg yolks, meats and poultry


There is a third type of unsaturated fat called omega-9 fatty acids. These are not essential, because the body is capable of making them from other unsaturated fats. However, omega-9 fatty acids are important to your over all health.

Foods with omega-9 fatty acids: olive oil, avocados, almonds, peanuts, sesame oil, pecans, pistachio nuts, cashews and hazelnuts

The FDA does not currently have any recommended amount for daily consumption of omega-9 fatty acids.

As a general rule, unsaturated fats and “omegas” are found in a variety of oils and nuts, but not all oils and nuts are created equal. Opt for oils and nuts that contain omega-3 or omega-9 fatty acids instead of omega-6 fatty acids, especially if you eat a lot of meat and poultry.

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