You’ve probably heard omega-3 and omega-6 fats referred to as "essential fats." This is because our bodies cannot make them; they must be obtained from food. Both of these polyunsaturated fatty acids are necessary for health, but maintaining a healthy balance of the two is extremely important. Let’s talk about why.
Omega-6s are considered to increase inflammation in the body, whereas omega-3s help to decrease inflammation. Having too many omega-6s and too few omega-3s in the diet has been linked to heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes; improving your ratio of these fats may also help you to balance your hormones and boost the functioning of your immune system.
I ate too little fat overall when I was a teenager and definitely ate too few omega-3s. For me this manifested as unhealthy healthy hair, skin, and nails; it also contributed to depression and adversely affected my metabolism.
Getting omega-6s in the diet is very easy: most people are probably getting way more omega-6s than they need.
Omega-6s are found in nuts, seeds, beans, and grains; they’re also in the vegetable oils that go into a vast array of processed snack foods. Commercial eggs, poultry, and meats are all high in omega-6s, too, because commercial animals are fed grains.
Omega-3 fats are much harder to get through food. This is too bad, because so many of us really need to eat more of them in order to promote a favorable ratio of omega-6s to omega-3s.
Here are the foods that contain omega-3s, so you can work on adding more of them to your diet: