Walnuts contain omega 3, 6 and 9 fatty acids apart from protein and fibre. Source: inyucho/Flickr
Not all kinds of fats are bad for the body. Saturated fats are what you need to stay away from as they lead to complications including risk of heart diseases, weight gain and other health issues. Polyunsaturated fats, are the complete opposite and are actually good for you as they are essential for normal functioning of the body. Classified as omega 3, 6 and 9 fatty acids, these saturated fats are found in different foods and are required to maintain the respiratory system, circulatory system, skin and organs in top condition. Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids are classified as essential fatty acids (EFAs) but cannot be synthesized by the body and need to be sourced from food consumed.
Once consumed, omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids are converted to compounds of unsaturated fats that aid in vision development and brain function of infants.
Omega 3 fatty acids are essential for brain function and also help maintain cardiovascular health. Mostly found in fatty fish like sardines, tuna and salmon, this class of fatty acid is an essential dietary supplement for those suffering from asthma, diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, skin disorders, among others.
Vegetarian and vegan diets can sometimes be deficient in omega 3 acids. It would be ideal to consume foods like mustard seeds, whole grains, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds as well canola oil that are non-meat based sources of omega 3 fatty acids.
Omega 6 fatty acids need to be consumed along with omega 3 fatty acids, for optimal health benefits. This class of EFA is found in olive oil, sesame oil, sunflower oil, raw seeds and nuts including pistachios.
Olive oil on salads is a great way to include good fats in your diet. Watch how to make olive oil salad dressing:
While all natural oils contain some combination of the three fatty acids, there aren’t any that contain it all. So, make sure to include a mix of foods containing all three types of fatty acids for optimal health benefits.
Omega 9 fatty acid, is a non-essential acid that is produced by the body when there’s a steady supply of either of the EFAs. It is naturally found in foods like almonds, avocados, olives and olive oil.