Omega-3, -6, -9

Nutrition Profile • Compare Omega-3, -6, -9


Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are known by another name: omegas. There are three types of omega fatty acids: omega-3, omega-6 and omega-9. Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are two types of polyunsaturated fats. All three omega fatty acids play specific roles in overall health, which is why they also are considered good fats.

Health benefits include:

  • Preventing coronary heart disease
  • Preventing stroke
  • Preventing diabetes
  • Promoting healthy nerve activity
  • Improving vitamin absorption
  • Maintaining a healthy immune system
  • Promoting cell development
  • Promoting brain development in pregnancy and early years of life
  • Supporting memory and cognitive function in later years

There are several differences in the profiles and health effects of omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fats and omega-9 monounsaturated fats.


Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fats considered essential for human health because the body cannot manufacture them. People must obtain omega-3 fatty acids from foods such as salmon, mackerel, flaxseed, chia seeds, walnuts and some plant-based oils, including canola oil. Unfortunately, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has reported the majority of U.S. diets no longer contain the amount of omega-3 fatty acids needed by our bodies for overall health and wellness.

Omega-3 fatty acids correct imbalances in modern diets that lead to health problems. Eating foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids can help lower the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke and cancer, as well as lower LDL or “bad” cholesterol. Omega-3 fatty acids come in multiple forms:

  • ALA, or alpha-linolenic acid, is found in flaxseed, canola and soybean oils, and walnuts. A diet high in ALA helps reduce risk of heart disease and stroke by lowering cholesterol and triglyceride levels, enhancing the elasticity of blood vessels and preventing build-up of harmful fat deposits in the arteries.
  • EPA, or eicosapentaenoic acid, and DHA, or docosahexaenoic acid, are found in fatty fishes such as herring, mackerel, salmon, tuna and trout. Diets high in EPA and DHA help with brain and eye development, prevent cardiovascular disease, and can help to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. For example, a DHA-rich diet has been shown to protect against retina degeneration and increase problem solving skills in 9-month-old infants.1 A 10-year study found that among those with increased consumption of DHA/EPA, there was approximately 40% less cardiovascular disease and a significant reduction in all-cause mortality.2 All infant formula is now supplemented with DHA.


Omega-6 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats, essential for human health because the body cannot manufacture them. People must obtain omega-6 fatty acids by consuming foods such as meat, poultry and eggs, as well as nut- and plant-based oils, including canola, corn, soybean and sunflower oils.

Omega-6 fatty acids also come in multiple forms:

  • LA, or linoleic acid, is found in canola, corn, peanut, safflower, soybean and sunflower oils. Excessive amounts of linoleic acid can contribute to inflammation and result in heart disease, cancer, asthma, arthritis and depression.3, 4
  • GLA, or gamma-linolenic acid, is mostly delivered in nutritional supplements.
  • AA, or arachidonic acid, is found in red meat, poultry and eggs.

Striking a balance between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in the diet allows both substances to work together to promote health.


Omega-9 fatty acids are from a family of unsaturated fats commonly found in vegetable oils. These monounsaturated fats are described as omega-9 faty acids because the double bond is in the ninth position from the omega end. Unlike omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, the body can produce omega-9 fatty acids, but they are beneficial when obtained in food. The primary omega-9 fatty acid is oleic acid. Oleic acid is commonly found in canola, olive, peanut, safflower and sunflower oils, avocados, olives and nuts, including almonds, cashews, macadamias, peanuts, pecans, pistachios and walnuts.

Omega-9 Canola Oil is uniquely high in monounsaturated fats, which help reduce key factors that contribute to heart disease and diabetes. Research has shown that omega-9 fatty acids are protective against metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease risk factors. Because omega-9 fatty acids have been shown to increase HDL (“good”) cholesterol and decrease LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, they help eliminate plaque buildup in the arteries, which may cause heart attack or stroke.

The latest evidence demonstrates cardio protective effects for diets rich in monounsaturated fats, according to a recently published review paper.5 The paper also suggests omega-9 fatty acids are involved in regulating fat oxidation, energy metabolism, appetite, weight maintenance and cholesterol metabolism. The authors conclude that these favorable effects may indicate omega-9 fatty acids are the preferable choice to use in place of other dietary fatty acids and potential benefits could been seen by increasing intake of monounsaturated fats beyond 20% of total energy.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a Qualified Health Claim for canola oil saying, “Limited and not conclusive scientific evidence suggests that eating about 1½ tablespoons (19 grams) of canola oil daily may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease due to the unsaturated fats in canola oil. To achieve this possible benefit, canola oil is to replace a similar amount of saturated fats and not increase the total number of calories you eat in a day.”


Although omega-3, omega-6 and omega-9 fatty acids all serve different functions within the body, the evidence is clear that incorporating balanced proportions of both essential and non-essential fatty acids are necessary for maintaining overall heart health and general wellness. According to a 2014 position paper on dietary fatty acids and human health from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, adults should receive 20% to 35% of energy from dietary fats, avoid saturated and trans (“bad”) fats and increase omega-3 fatty acids. The paper also states the majority of calories from fat should come from monounsaturated fats, and that these heart-healthy fatty acids should replace saturated fats when possible. To learn more, visit


Omega-9 Canola Oil has a uniquely beneficial fatty acid profile compared to other commonly used, commercially available oils. With zero trans fats, one of the lowest levels of saturated fats and increased levels of its namesake omega-9 monounsaturated or “good” fats, it is helping foodservice operators and food manufacturers meet demand for healthier foods without sacrificing taste, oil functionality or stability.

Fatty Acid Oils Comparison Chart

1Dolecek, T.A. (1992) “Epidemiological evidence of relationships between dietary polyunsaturated fatty acids and mortality in the Multiple Risk Factor Intervention Trial.” PSEBM. 200:177-182.

2Lands, William E.M. (December 2005). “Dietary fat and health: the evidence and the politics of prevention: careful use of dietary fats can improve life and prevent disease.” Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 1055: 179-192. Blackwell. doi:10.1196/annals.1323.028. PMID 16387724.

3Hibbeln, Joseph R. (June 2006). “Healthy intakes of n-3 and n-6 fatty acids: estimations considering worldwide diversity.” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 83 (6, supplement): 1483S-1493S. American Society for Nutrition. PMID 16841858.

4Okuyama, Hirohmi; Ichikawa, Yuko; Sun, Yueji; Hamazaki, Tomohito; Lands, William E.M. (2007). “3 fatty acids effectively prevent coronary heart disease and other late-onset diseases: the excessive linoleic acid syndrome.” World Review of Nutritional Dietetics 96 (Prevention of Coronary Heart Disease): 83-103. Karger. doi:10.1159/000097809.

5Shatha Hammad; Shuaihua Pu; Peter J. Jones (2015). “Current Evidence Supporting the Link Between Dietary Fatty Acids and Cardiovascular Disease.” Lipids. 2015. doi: 10.1007/s11745-015-4113-x.

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