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Not all fats are created equal. We all know this by now, so we’re not going to teach you a lesson on good fats vs. bad fats. What we are going to focus on, however, are the omega fatty acids. That sounds kind of gross, but we promise, you want these guys — they’re unbelievably beneficial.

First of all, are the Omega-3s, which are polyunsaturated –the good fat. They are precursors to prostaglandins, and they help reduce arthritis, eczema, headaches, migraines, high blood pressure, ADD and ADHD symptoms, inflammation, auto-immune diseases, osteoporosis, breast cancer, and other conditions. Omega-3s help lower your risk of heart disease by creating more stable arterial plaque. They also have been shown to increase the growth of neurons in the brain, which is directly linked to higher intelligence and memory function. And a University of California study found that men who ate dark fatty fish, high in omega-3s (Tuna, Salmon, etc.), one to three times a week had a 36% reduced risk of prostate cancer compared to those who did not eat fish.

Omega-3s aren’t just found in deep water fish. They can also be found in:

  • flax seeds, chia seeds, and hemp seeds
  • walnuts
  • green leafy vegetables
  • pastured eggs
  • olive oil, flax oil, and walnut oil

Next up is Omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-6s are not as popular as their cousins, the 3s, but they are also vital as they lower harmful LDL cholesterol and boost protective HDL. They help keep blood sugar in check by improving the body’s sensitivity to insulin. According to Harvard Health, “Many studies showed that rates of heart disease went down as consumption of omega-6 fats went up. And a meta-analysis of six randomized trials found that replacing saturated fat with omega-6 fats reduced the risk of heart attacks and other coronary events by 24%.”

Omega-6 can be found in:

  • corn oil 
  • soybean oil
  • safflower oil
  • sesame oil
  • sunflower oil
  • nuts, seeds, and legumes

Lastly are the omega-9s. Unlike their more reputable cousins, Omega-9 fats are not essential fatty acids. That means that you don’t need to get them in your diet – if your body needs them, it can make its own, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t play a considerable role in staying healthy.

Omega-9 fatty acids include:

  • Oleic acid: a monounsaturated fat found in olive oil, macadamia oil, poultry fat, and lard. It has been found to help strengthen the immune system
  • Mead acid: a polyunsaturated fat that may have some anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Nervonic acid: a monounsaturated fat important for healthy brain function. It’s found in salmon, nuts (especially macadamias), and seeds.

Make sure you’re getting enough of these fatty acids in your diet. It may help to eat at least two portions of oily fish per week and use olive or avocado oil for cooking and in salad dressing, but if you suspect you may not be getting enough omegas, it’s a good idea to look into taking a supplement.