By Jacqueline Schwartz

If it seems like every product on the market is claiming to have Omega-3 fatty acids, well, you’re pretty much right on target. But while the advertisements for many of our favorite foods may now claim to have Omegas “for our health” (of course), what really is the deal with Omegas and are they really as healthy as the labels say? It’s time to get to the bottom of it… So, here’s the deal:

Fatty acids are essential. While fat is the “f word” to many women out there, fatty acids are an essential part of an healthy diet since they do everything from building healthy cells to maintaining brain and nerve function to promoting heart health. Omega fatty acids are essential fats and serve as a vital part of our diets. Unfortunately, Omega fatty acids are not produced naturally within our bodies, meaning we need to get them from the food we eat or from supplements.

Know your fats. Not all fatty acids are created equal. The key is to be aware of the difference between the Omegas and how to get what we really need from our food.

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The deal on Omega-3s. It is no secret that Omega-3 claims are everywhere. Each time we look around, a new food is claiming to be packed with these fatty acids.  Well, here’s the low down.  Omega-3 fatty acids are extremely beneficial to our health.  They help with growth, stimulate blood circulation and reduce blood pressure, triglyceride levels and inflammation, all of which may help reduce our risk of heart attacks and coronary artery disease.

How to get your Omega 3s. Fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel and canned light tuna; herring; sardines; walnuts; flaxseed. Many foods are now also fortified with Omega-3s, which can serve as good sources of this nutrient if the above foods are not a feasible part of your day.

Make this Omega-3 rich salmon recipe!

All about Omega-6s. Omega-6 fats, on the other hand, should be consumed in smaller quantities. Research has shown that higher consumption of these fats (particularly in relation to your consumption of Omega-3s) may increase risk for certain health complications such as stroke, heart attacks, arrhythmia, arthritis, inflammation, mood disorders, obesity and even cancer.  Although Omega-6 fats are still essential and we do need them in our diet, in larger amounts they may also interfere with the health benefits of Omega-3s.  So, as usual, portion control is everything!

Sources of Omega-6s Palm, soybean, rapeseed and sunflower oils; poultry; eggs; avocado; nuts and cereals; most vegetable oils; acai berry and pumpkin seeds.

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