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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.





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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