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Omega-3 & Omega-6 Fatty Acids
Last Reviewed: 01/03/2022
Time To Read: 3mins
Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Acids are a polyunsaturated fatty acid, which the body is unable to make and therefore need to be obtained from food.
There is evidence that replacing saturated fatty acids with polyunsaturated fatty acids reduces cardiovascular disease risk.
Current recommendations are to replace saturated fat in the diet with polyunsaturated fatty acids, including both omega-3 & omega-6 fatty acids, to reduce cardiovascular disease risk. The upper limit recommendation of omega-6 fatty acids is 9% of energy (calories) daily. In most countries, intakes of omega-6 fatty acids are between 3-7%.
Food Sources of Omega-6
- safflower oil,
- sunflower oil,
- corn oil,
- soybean oil,
- sunflower seeds,
- pumpkin seeds
Omega-3 fatty acids have been associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. Fish intake has been associated with lower risk of stroke, however more studies are needed to understand if this is due to omega-3 fatty acids.
Recommended amounts of Omega-3 is shown below (in grams).
Recommended Amount of ALA
Birth to 12 months*
Children 1–3 years
Children 4–8 years
Boys 9–13 years
Girls 9–13 years
Teen boys 14–18 years
Teen girls 14–18 years
Pregnant teens and women
Breastfeeding teens and women
*As total omega-3s. All other values are for ALA alone
Food Sources of Omega-3
A diet with a variety of foods should be adequate to meet your omega-3 requirements. Foods rich in omega-3 are shown below
- Fish and other seafood (especially cold-water fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, tuna, herring, and sardines)
- Nuts and seeds (such as flaxseed, chia seeds, and walnuts)
- Plant oils (such as flaxseed oil, soybean oil, and canola oil)
- Fortified foods (such as certain brands of eggs, yogurt, juices, milk, soy beverages
Replacing saturated fat in your diet (fat from foods like butter, cream, cheese, meat fat) and replacing them with unsaturated fatty acids (like nuts & seeds, plant-based oils, and fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel and tuna) may help to reduce your cardiovascular disease risk. Small changes in your diet can make a difference so start with one thing at a time and gradually make small changes that will help to improve your overall health.
We hope you found this article useful.
Thanks for reading.
The team @ The Food Cruncher.
NZ Nutrition Foundation. Dietary Fats and Oils. 2015.
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