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What should you know about omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids?

Salmon – a food containing omega 3 fatty acids beneficial for our health and weight loss. Recipe on KetoDiet.cz.

Is there a lack of omega 3 in your diet? And why do you perhaps have an excess of omega 6? If you want to improve your healthy diet a little bit more, focus your attention on unsaturated fatty acids.

This is a topic for a book as Jiří Skála, our nutritional specialist says. But today we will try to present omega 3, -6 and -9 fatty acids in a brief and clear way. You will not miss anything important and your weight loss will continue to go smoothly.

Do you have omega 3 unsaturated fatty acids in your diet?

Omega 3 are very important, even indispensable, for our body. You can find them in foods containing healthy fats that are an essential part of KetoDiet reduction diet as well as regular healthy diet.

What are omega 3?

Now, a brief chemistry lesson. ”Omega 3 are present in foods in the form of fats, which are composed of individual triacylglycerols. Triacylglycerols as their name suggests, contain three molecules of fatty acids attached to one molecule of glycerol,” explains Jiří Skála and adds that omega 3 belong to the group of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA). The most important representatives of omega 3 fatty acids are:

  • α-linolenic acid (ALA) – contained in e.g. flaxseed oil, hemp or blackcurrants,
  • clupanodonic acid (EPA) – found in fish oil or eggs,
  • docosahexaenoic acid – (DHA) – also found in fish oil.

Effects of omega 3

According to the nutritional specialist, omega 3 fatty acids have a number of positive effects, so it is worth keeping an eye on them in your diet.

  • They have an anti-inflammatory effect,
  • Boost immunity,
  • Reduce blood clots,
  • Have antimicrobial effects,
  • Support correct brain function,
  • Dilate blood vessels and thus prevent strokes.

Foods rich in omega 3

What food does contain omega 3 fatty acids? The best quality sources are:

  • Flaxseeds,
  • Chia seeds,
  • Hemp seeds,
  • Walnuts,
  • Seafood and fish (salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring, sardines),
  • Eggs.

In the 1980s, Dr. Donald O. Rudin gave his patients high doses of flaxseed and fish oil for two years. After that time, overall health, including cardiovascular diseases, mental health, irritable bowel syndrome, skin and joint problems, schizophrenia and mood swings have improved in most people. The patients’ immunity has strengthened and premenstrual symptoms were positively affected in women.

Omega 6 or How to deal with the “bad” fatty acids?

Sunflower seeds – a food containing omega 6 in the KetoDiet dietary recipe for avocado spread.

Apart from omega 3, omega 6 is often mentioned in relation to the diet. The biggest difference between these fatty acids is in their benefits and different functions in our body. “While omega 3 are referred to as “anti-inflammatory”, omega 6, on the other hand, as PRO-inflammatory. Therefore, it is very important in what proportion these fatty acids appear in our diet,” explains Jiří Skála.

What are omega 6?

Omega 6, as well as omega 3, are polyunsaturated fatty acids. Their main representative and only source of omega 6, which or body cannot produce, is linoleic acid.

Other representatives of omega 6 include:

  • arachidonic acid (AA), which is found for example in breast milk,
  • gama-linolenic acid (GLA), which is found in eggs and evening primrose oil.

Effects of omega 6

Omega 3 have clear benefits for our body. However, with omega 6 we should beware of potential adverse effects. “Effects of omega 6 are currently assessed very differently. In fact, they are easily subject to oxidative changes and by their chain elongation arachidonic acid is obtained, which may be co-responsible for increased incidence of heart attacks, stroke, asthma and arthritis,” warns our nutritional specialist. The gamma-linolenic acid, however, has been shown to reduce elevated blood fat levels and increase HDL (good) cholesterol. Together with zinc and selenium, it can effectively suppress inflammatory processes, reduce blood pressure and blood clots. So how do we get the best out of omega 6? The key is to keep good ratio of omega 6 to omega 3.

Foods rich in omega 6

Most vegetable oils contain omega 6 fatty acids. The most common sources of omega 6 are:

  • Sunflower oil,
  • Sunflower seeds,
  • Rapeseed oil,
  • Soybean oil,
  • Peanut oil,
  • Palm oil,
  • Sesame,
  • As well as some types of margarine.

What are omega 9? Their effects and foods containing them

In contrast to omega 6 and omega 3, omega 9 are not classified as essential fatty acids, which means our body can produce them on its own, if needed. The most important fatty acid of this type is oleic acid. “It has the ability to positively influence the composition of blood fats in our body thus reducing the risk of developing atherosclerosis, it also has very beneficial antioxidant properties, strengthens immunity and supports the immune system,” enumerates its positive effects Jiří Skála. Oleic acid is less likely to be stored in fat reserves compared to saturated fatty acids, and thus it is beneficial for weight loss. The main source of omega 9 is olive oil.

How much omega 3 and omega 6 do we need? We have an illustrative example for you

Our diets usually lack unsaturated fatty acids and since our body cannot produce them on its own, it is necessary to watch their intake. Even when losing weight with KetoDiet based on higher content of fat in the diet. “Traditional health organisations such as World Health Organisation (WHO) and European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) recommend a minimum of 250–500 mg EPA and DHA per day for healthy adults” says the nutritional specialist and adds that this is why it is recommended to eat oily fish at least twice a week to provide for optimum intake of omega 3 to prevent heart and other diseases. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should even add 200 mg EPA and DHA more.

The proportion of omega 6 and omega 3 in the diet

Although some form of inflammation is necessary in the body since it acts as a barrier against infection and injuries, an excess of “pro-inflammatory” omega 6 in the diet may cause problems with chronic inflammation. And that is one of the most severe diseases today. Therefore, we should supplement omega 6 in our diet with omega 3 fatty acids in a ratio of 4 – 6 : 1, which is approx. 7% of total energy intake.

Did you know that in today’s diets the ratio between omega 6 and omega 3 often goes up to 20 : 1, while it would be ideal to reduce it to 2 : 1?

Example of foods with the right ratio of omega 3 and omega 6 in a daily menu

For a woman (80 kg, daily fat intake set to e.g. 90 g fat = ketogenic diet)

Sources of fatty acids per day:

  • 3 eggs,
  • 20 g chia seeds,
  • 30 g walnuts,
  • 200 g salmon,
  • 20 ml olive oil.

The foods listed are those containing omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, not the entire daily menu. You can add more foods according to your taste and current stock.

TIP after the diet! If you already have a classic diet (with approx. half of the fat intake – 45 g), just reduce the amount of the food listed to a half.

Recipes with omega 3

Broccoli egg bake – food rich in omega 3 fatty acids. Recipe on KetoDiet.cz.

You don’t have to remember chemical formulas but it is good to know how to increase the amount of omega 3 fatty acids in your diet. Try for instance one of our dietary recipes with foods containing omega 3. They will be suitable when on keto diet and you will not give them up even after you finish with the diet.

Food supplements with omega 3. Are they needed?

With a balanced diet containing good quality sources of fatty acids you do not need to add anything. However, Jiří Skála warns that if we omit omega 3 from our diet in the long term, we could plant the seeds of a future problem. Do you not like fish, eat nuts or do you do a lot of sports? Then you may need a supplement. “This applies to all types of diets, so tablets, drops or oils as food supplements can be used also when on keto diet. As with everything, nothing should be overdone. We should stick to the recommended daily amount. Excess of omega 3 might lead to stomach discomfort, increased blood thinning or excessive bleeding. If you take blood thinners you should consult your doctor about supplementing omega 3 with food supplements,” concludes the nutritional specialist.

Did you know that you can easily detect the ratio of fatty acids using the Zinzino test? It detects the fatty acid content directly from the blood and is very accurate.


What are omega 3 fatty acids?

Omega 3 are polyunsaturated fatty acids found in foods in the form of healthy fats that are beneficial for our health. You should watch their amount in your diet while on keto diet as well as when you have an active healthy lifestyle since your body cannot produce them on its own.

What are the effects of omega 3 fatty acids?

Omega 3 fatty acids have a positive effect and are anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, boost immunity, reduce blood clots, support correct brain function and dilate blood vessels and thus prevent strokes.

What foods are rich in omega 3?

Good quality sources of omega 3 fatty acids are flaxseed, chia seeds, hemp seeds, walnuts, seafood, fish (salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring, sardines) and eggs.

What are the effects of omega 6 fatty acids?

Omega 6 fatty acids in the right ratio with omega 3 are beneficial for your health. But when consumed in excess, they can be harmful – cause chronic inflammation or be one of the causes of a heart attack, stroke, asthma or arthritis.

What foods are rich in omega 6?

Omega 6 can be found in most vegetable oils. In particular, in sunflower oil and sunflower seeds, rapeseed oil, soybean oil, peanut oil, palm oil, sesame as well as some types of margarine.

The ratio of omega 3 and omega 6 in the diet

Omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids should complement each other in the diet. In the recommended ratio 4 to 6 : 1. If you reduce the ratio to 2 : 1, your body will be grateful to you. However, nowadays the ratio is going up, frequently to 20 : 1, which is alarming given the risks.

Author: Nikola Nevečeřalová, Jiří Skála

Foto: KetoDiet

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