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Why We Need Omega-3s

THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN OMEGA-3S + OTHER FATTY ACIDS

Article by Hayley Hyer

Photography by Stock Images

There are three different types of omega fatty acids: omega-3, omega-6, and omega-9. Omega-6s and omega-9s are pretty easily found a little less important than omega-3s, so that's why you see so much focus on that one. Omega-3 is labeled an essential fatty acid, and the only way to get it in our bodies is through the food we eat.

As a vegetarian, I have to be even more intentional about my omega-3 intake because it is easiest to get in fish. In fact, many people take fish oil supplements to insure they get enough omega-3s each day. But don't worry! There are also plenty of vegetarian and vegan ways to get this essential fatty acid. You just have to be intentional about the foods you eat.

What are the health benefits of omega-3s?

This science-backed list was written by Freydis Hjalmarsdottir, MS at Healthline.

  • Omega-3s Can Fight Depression and Anxiety
  • Omega-3s Can Improve Eye Health
  • Omega-3s Can Promote Brain Health During Pregnancy and Early Life
  • Omega-3s Can Improve Risk Factors for Heart Disease
  • Omega-3s Can Reduce Symptoms of ADHD in Children
  • Omega-3s Can Reduce Symptoms of Metabolic Syndrome
  • Omega-3s Can Fight Inflammation
  • Omega-3s Can Fight Autoimmune Diseases
  • Omega-3s Can Improve Mental Disorders
  • Omega-3s Can Fight Age-Related Mental Decline and Alzheimer's Disease
  • Omega-3s May Help Prevent Cancer
  • Omega-3s Can Reduce Asthma in Children
  • Omega-3s Can Reduce Fat in Your Liver
  • Omega-3s May Improve Bone and Joint Health
  • Omega-3s Can Alleviate Menstrual Pain
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids May Improve Sleep
  • Omega-3 Fats Are Good For Your Skin

READ MORE: 17 Science-Based Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

As you can see from this list, omega-3s have a lot to do with our brains. They help fight a variety of mental illnesses and improve overall brain health and function. To me, my brain is a pretty important part of my body that I want to do my best to take care of!

How do you get omega-3s in your daily diet?

In order for omega-3 fatty acids to do their job most efficiently, you should be eating foods that have them as close to every day as you can. Here are some great meat and vegetarian options with lots of omega-3s.

These lists were written by Kat Gál and medically reviewed by Natalie Olsen, R.D., L.D., ACSM EP-C at Medical News Today.

Meat

  • Mackerel
  • Salmon
  • Seabass
  • Oysters
  • Sardines
  • Shrimp
  • Trout

Vegetarian

  • Seaweed and algae
  • Chia seeds
  • Hemp seeds
  • Flaxseeds
  • Walnuts
  • Edamame
  • Kidney beans
  • Soybean oil

READ MORE: What are the Best Sources of Omega-3?

Tip: If you eat eggs every morning, a super easy way to get omega-3s in your diet is to buy eggs from hens that were fed a diet enriched with flax seed. You can easily find these at most health food stores!

Follow Hayley Hyer @hayhyer

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