Some supplement manufacturers talk about Omega 3 6 9 benefits, claiming that a supplement with a balanced content of the three types of polyunsaturated fats are good for your health. Those claims are not supported by medical literature. Here’s what we know about the numbers.
Omega-9s are non-essential in most humans, because we possess the enzymes necessary to create them within the body. The nines include oleic and erucic acid. Oleic may have some positive health effects, although the evidence is unclear. It is known that switching to olive oil seems to be helpful for people with high blood pressure. Oleic acid may be responsible for that effect.
Erucic acid may lead to increased accumulation of fat in the body’s cells and tissues. Intake of the fatty acid is associated with a blood disorder in which there are fewer than normal platelets in the blood. This effect led to the European Union’s ban of mustard oil for food use. Mustard oil contains a very high percentage of erucic acid.
Most people get more than enough 6s in their diets, because most of the polyunsaturated fats in cooking oil and foods are omega-6s. For example, corn oil, which was at one time hailed as a healthy choice, contains 40 times more omega-6s than omega-3s. Examining the fatty acid content in the typical American diet has led many researchers to conclude that the imbalance is unhealthy.
Companies might talk about the omega 3 6 9 benefits, because of the unhealthy imbalance. But taking a supplement with a balanced amount of each fatty acid would not improve a person’s health. It is usually necessary to reduce the amount of 6s in the diet while increasing the amount of 3s. Avoiding excessive intake of the nines is not that difficult.
The risks associated with high levels of 6s in the diet include heart disease, cancer, stroke, arthritis, osteoporosis, mood disorders and obesity. Although it is necessary to get some 6s in your diet, supplementation is not necessary.
When talking about the omega 3 6 9 benefits, companies are actually trying to compete with the threes. For decades, researchers have known that people whose diets were rich in omega-3 fats were healthier and happier.
A lot has to do with food selection. The populations included in the studies ate a lot of fatty fish and seafood. Their diets were actually very high in fat, which made researchers think there would be a lot of heart disease in the populations. They found the opposite to be true.
So, when it comes to the omega 3 6 9 benefits, the threes are the obvious winner. If you want to increase your intake of omega-3s, the easiest thing to do is to take a good fish oil supplement.
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