Consuming a wholesome diet that covers all the important nutrients can seem complicated and even a little exhausting if we get into researching what kind of nutrients are essential for our well-being. Vitamins, minerals, fats, proteins and carbohydrates are some of the nutrients that most of us are familiar with, and we know that they are crucial when it comes to a healthy diet and lifestyle. In the vast orchestra of nutrition, where each nutrient plays its unique note, few compositions are as melodious and intricate as the omega 3-6-9 trio.
Published in Nutrition · 13 min read · Oct 03, 2023
Published in Nutrition
13 min read · Oct 03, 2023
When it comes to fats, you often hear about “good” fats and “bad” fats, and the numbers that come along with them can make everything seem even more dubious. Today, we are here for you to shine a light on the omega fatty acids.
CARE dedicates this article to the Omega-3-6-9 fatty acids that play a vital role in your general health. We will showcase what sets them apart from one another and why it is recommended that you keep track of your blood levels to maintain a nutritious and healthy diet.
Fats are an important part of a healthy diet, but it is important that we balance certain fats against one another and divide between “good" and "bad” fats. As a rule of thumb, foods that contain unsaturated fats are considered “good” and healthy. Foods high in saturated fats should be consumed in moderation, while trans fats are “bad” fats that should be avoided altogether.
So, what are those Omega-3, 6 & 9 Fatty Acids, how do they fall into these categories, and how are they essential for your body?
Omega fatty acids are a group of fats that are vital for various biological functions in your body. The term “omega-3-6-9” is often used to refer to supplements or foods that contain a combination of the three types of fatty acids: Omega-3, Omega-6, and Omega-9. The three types of omega fats do not necessarily have to be present as a “trio” in foods and often are present on their own in different food sources.
While omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are considered essential because our body cannot produce them and they must be obtained from our diet, omega-9 fatty acids are not classified as essential because our body can synthesize them. 
The key differences between the omega fatty acids lie in their food sources, their chemical structures, and their specific health benefits.
Let's take a closer look at each type:
Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fats renowned for their anti-inflammatory properties and numerous health advantages. The name "omega-3" is derived from the location of the first double bond in the carbon chain of the fatty acid molecule, counting from the methyl (CH3) end of the molecule. 
Omega-3s are considered essential because your body cannot produce them independently and must acquire them from your diet. Omega-3s are considered as “good” fats and are found primarily in fatty fish and plant-based sources. 
Omega-6 fatty acids represent another category of polyunsaturated fats that our bodies require. Like in omega-3 fatty acids, the name "omega-6" is derived from the location of the first double bond in the carbon chain of the fatty acid molecule, counting from the methyl (CH3) end of the molecule. In the case of omega-6 fatty acids, the first double bond is located six carbon atoms away from the methyl end, hence their name. 
They are commonly present in oils such as soybean oil, corn oil, and sunflower oil, along with nuts and seeds.
Omega-6s are essential for various bodily functions but should be balanced with omega-3s to prevent excessive inflammation. 
Omega-9 fatty acids, which are monounsaturated fats, differ from omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in that they are not deemed essential, only partially essential, since the body can synthesize them naturally. 
They are monounsaturated fatty acids with the first double bond located nine carbon atoms away from the methyl (CH3) end of the fatty acid molecule, which gives the fats their name.
The synthetization process of omega-9 in the human body is called de novo lipogenesis, where your body can convert excess carbohydrates and some other dietary components into omega-9 fatty acids, specifically oleic acid.
However, consuming foods rich in omega-9s, such as olive oil and avocados, should be done in moderation since the fats are nutrient-dense and can lead to weight gain if consumed excessively.
There are numerous health benefits to Omega fatty acids, and each group of Omega fatty acids has its own health benefits. Whereas all omega fatty acids do have healthy benefits to them, it is important that they are consumed according to the suggested dosages, which vary between each group of fatty acids. 
Omega-3 fatty acids are well known for their ability to protect the heart. They have been extensively studied for their capacity to lower triglyceride levels, decrease blood pressure, and improve overall cardiovascular function. 
Specifically, two important types of omega 3s called EPA and DHA play roles in preventing heart disease. They contribute to the maintenance of blood vessels, reduce inflammation, and enhance optimal blood flow. These combined effects can significantly reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes. 
Moreover, omega-3 fatty acids possess anti-inflammatory properties that help alleviate inflammation in the body. This provides relief from inflammatory conditions and helps in preventing them from occurring in the first place. 
DHA, a key omega-3 fatty acid, is essential for the structure of your brain. It supports function, memory retention, and overall brain health. Additionally, omega-3s have been linked to a reduced risk of age-related decline and neurological disorders such as Alzheimer's disease. 
It is also interesting to know that DHA is concentrated in the retina of our eyes. Therefore, consuming amounts of omega-3s promotes good eye health by reducing the risk of age-related macular degeneration and maintaining clear vision as you grow older. 
Omega-6 fatty acids play a role in supporting growth and development, as well as maintaining healthy skin and hair. One specific type of omega-6 fatty acid called linoleic acid (LA) is crucial for the structure of your cell membranes. By preserving the integrity of these membranes, these omega-6 fatty acids ensure that they remain functional and flexible. This, in turn, enables important cellular processes like nutrient transportation signaling and receptor functioning. 
Furthermore, omega 6s contribute to the formation of the skin's protective barrier. The barrier helps prevent water loss and shields against external irritants. By ensuring an intake of omega-6 fatty acids, you can promote healthy and well-hydrated skin. Since we are sure you are not a superficial person, it is also worth noting that omega 6s are not only beneficial for your skin but also for brain development, particularly during infancy and early childhood stages. 
When it comes to Omega-6 fats, maintaining a balance with omega 3s in your diet is crucial since excessive consumption of omega six compared to omega 3 can lead to inflammation. There are different opinions out there regarding the ratio that one should maintain, but many scientists agree on a 4:1 ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3. 
Omega-9 fatty acids are monounsaturated fats, and while they are not considered essential because the body can synthesize them, they still offer several notable health benefits when included in your diet.
First and foremost, Omega 9s are renowned for their capacity to lower LDL (cholesterol levels). Primarily in the form of oleic acid, they are a cornerstone of the heart-healthy Mediterranean diet. They have been shown to help reduce levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol while increasing HDL (good) cholesterol, effectively improving overall cholesterol profiles. This contributes to a lower risk of cardiovascular diseases like heart attacks and strokes. 
Furthermore, Omega-9s possess anti-inflammatory properties that can help combat chronic inflammation, a common factor in various chronic diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis. By reducing inflammation, omega-9s support overall health and well-being. 
Omega-9 fatty acids may also aid in stabilizing blood sugar levels, which is particularly important for individuals with or at risk of type 2 diabetes. By improving insulin sensitivity, omega-9s can contribute to better glucose control. In a blood analysis with CARE, we can take a closer look at your blood levels to see how you can profit from an Omega-3-6-9 improved diet.
A balanced diet that includes a variety of whole foods rich in the three groups of omega fatty acids is the best way to ensure you get the right balance of omega-3, omega-6, and omega-9 fatty acids for optimal health.
But in reality, we can sometimes struggle to balance all the right nutrients with our busy schedules or to prioritize whole foods in our diet. 
Therefore, CARE has summarized good and nutrient-dense sources of Omega-3, 6, and 9.
A great food source for Omega-3 fats are fatty fish, certain seeds & nuts, and edamame beans.
Does a certain dish come to mind?
Yes, a Poké bowl is basically the epitome of an Omega-3 dish, and it is not only delicious but also healthy.
Particularly, wild-caught salmon is rich in omega-3 fats, especially EPA and DHA. Both Atlantic and Pacific mackerel are excellent sources of omega-3s as well as sardines. Rainbow trout is another good source of omega-3s. 
Ground flaxseeds are another excellent source of ALA (Alpha-Linolenic Acid). Grinding them enhances their digestibility and nutrient absorption. To incorporate flaxseeds into your diet, you can add a tablespoon of ground flaxseeds to your morning smoothie, yogurts or cereal. They'll blend in smoothly and add a nutty flavor and a nutritional punch of Omega-3s.
Edamame contains a moderate amount of ALA omega-3s. If you'd like to retain the vibrant green color of edamame and minimize nutrient loss, you can briefly blanch or steam them.
Walnuts are a convenient and tasty source of ALA omega-3s, making them a great addition to various dishes or just as a snack on their own. The nutrient-dense nuts are packed with various beneficial compounds that can support cognitive function.
After all, they look like a brain, right?
It's important to consume omega-6 fatty acids in moderation and strive for a balanced intake with omega-3s to maintain a healthy ratio between the two. Vegetable oils typically contain a high amount of omega-6. Many salad dressings and sauces, including mayonnaise, are made with vegetable oils high in omega-6s as well.
Consuming omega-6 fatty acids in the form of a dressing in balance with a healthy salad is a good example of striking the balance between omega-3 and omega-6 fats.
Meat and poultry, especially when raised on grain-based diets, contain omega-6 fatty acids. Chicken and pork tend to have higher omega-6 content than grass-fed beef or game meat. 
Olive oil is a rich source of oleic acid, making it one of the most well-known dietary sources of omega-9s. Extra virgin olive oil is especially prized for its high oleic acid content.
Avocados are naturally high in oleic acid, which contributes to their creamy texture and heart-healthy reputation.
Almonds, pistachios, cashews, and macadamia nuts contain significant amounts of oleic acid as well and are part of a healthy diet. Additionally, seeds such as sunflower seeds, chia seeds, and pumpkin seeds contain oleic acid, along with other beneficial nutrients.
Omega-3-6-9 supplements, which typically contain a combination of omega-3, omega-6, and omega-9 fatty acids, are available in the market and are marketed as a way to provide a comprehensive source of essential and non-essential fats.
Omega-3 supplements, particularly those containing EPA and DHA from sources like fish oil or algae oil, can be beneficial for individuals who have difficulty obtaining enough omega-3s through their diet, such as vegetarians or those who don't consume fatty fish regularly. 
When you are looking for omega-3-6-9 supplements, consider well-established brands like Nordic Naturals and Carlson Labs for quality fish oil options. Krill oil alternatives are a good source of EPA and DHA and are often considered more sustainable than traditional fish oil, with Viva Naturals being a reputable choice. 
For omega-9 fatty acids, focus on incorporating foods like olive oil and avocados into your diet, as omega-9 supplements are generally non-essential.
Your recommended dosage of omega-3, omega-6, and omega-9 fatty acids will vary depending on your individual factors like your health, age, weight, and dietary preferences.
While all three types of fatty acids have health benefits, maintaining a proper balance among them is crucial. The typical Western diet often contains an overabundance of omega-6 fatty acids compared to omega-3s, which can lead to an imbalance and potential health issues.
The American Heart Association recommends consuming at least two servings of fatty fish per week, which provides about 500 milligrams (mg) of EPA and DHA combined per day. 
For individuals with specific health conditions, higher doses may be recommended under medical supervision.
There is no specific recommended daily intake for omega-6 fatty acids because they are widespread in the Western diet, and deficiency is rare.
It is generally recommended to focus on achieving a balance between omega-3 and omega-6 intake rather than targeting a specific daily dose of omega-6s.
The ideal ratio is a matter of debate, but most experts agree that reducing excessive omega-6 consumption relative to omega-3s is beneficial for health, and a ratio of 1:1 to 4:1 is desirable.
Omega-9 fatty acids are not considered essential because your body can synthesize them. Therefore, there is no recommended daily intake of omega-9 fatty acids.
Including foods high in omega-9s, such as olive oil and avocados, as part of a balanced diet can provide health benefits without the need for specific dosages.
And how can CARE help you to get an insight into your Omega fatty acids consumption? How do you know if you eat enough of each of those fatty acids? Our extensive blood tests can provide you with valuable information about your omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid levels, which can help assess whether you are consuming an adequate amount of these essential nutrients.
For example, the Omega-3 Index is a blood test that measures the levels of two important omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), as a percentage of total fatty acids in red blood cell membranes. A higher Omega-3 Index percentage is generally associated with better cardiovascular health. An index level of 8% or higher is often considered optimal.
Furthermore, by taking a look at your triglyceride levels, we can evaluate your balance of omega-3s to Omega-6s. High triglyceride levels in the blood can be associated with an imbalance between omega-3 and omega-6 intake.
Please do not hesitate to reach out to our team of healthcare specialists at CARE, who will go above and beyond to help you take charge of your health and live your best life.
Elena is an enthusiastic Health Coach and blog writer at CARE, with a passion for holistic medicine and health. Previously, Elena worked for almost five years as a coach leading retreats, workshops, and seminars. These included mind-body therapy: breath work, meditation, and massage; as well as energy force therapy: reiki, and qi gong; and third expressive therapy: movement, writing and support groups. Elena shares exciting articles on the blog, on the topic of where the alternative and traditional medicine intersect with Western Medicine. Elena is also the driving force behind the CARE community. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, traveling to remote locations and dancing. You might also see her on the lake of Zurich as a coast guard. Join her on her journey to learn more about health and discover the world of preventive medicine! Visit all articles written by Elena!