What are Omegas?
“Omegas” are a kind of polyunsaturated fatty acid that the body requires for normal and healthy function.
The most common Omega Fatty Acids you hear people talk about are Omega-3, and Omega-6.
The numbers simply refer to the position of the final double bond in the chemical structure of these fatty acids.
Because the body is unable to create these Omegas on its own, they are required in the diet and so are referred to as “Essential Fatty Acids.”
What do they do in the body?
Omega-3 Fatty Acids are Essential Fatty Acids that are beneficial for things such as heart and gut health, promoting anti-inflammatory responses, brain development and bone health.
The most common Omega-3’s are:
EPA (responsible for the reduction of inflammation in the body)
DHA (responsible for healthy brain function and development - it makes up to 8% of brain weight!)
ALA (used by the body for energy)
Omega-6’s are mainly used by the body as an energy source.
The most common Omega-6 is LA, which can be converted into other Omega-6’s like ARA.
ARA is used in the body to create chemicals called eicosanoids which are responsible for pro-inflammatory responses in the body.
Another Omega-6 Fatty Acid that can be found in some foods is GLA - this Omega is highly anti-inflammatory and has been shown to have significant effects in reducing arthritis and inflammation.
What happens if there is an imbalance of Omega-3 and Omega-6?
The ideal ratio of Omega-6:3 in the body is around 3:1. Studies have shown that more commonly, diets are providing ratios of between 10:1 and 50:1!
It is far easier to find foods that contain too high a level of Omega-6’s. While these Fatty Acids are still highly essential in the body, an imbalance of Omega 6:3 can result in inflammation, increased blood pressure, increased risk of heart attack and stroke, and can cause the body to retain water.
It is important to ensure that the body is receiving adequate Omega-3’s in the diet to create a balance that will be optimal for healthy function! A defacing in Omega-3 can cause red, itchy rashes and inflammations in the body.
How do you find them?
Because Omegas are considered “Essential Fatty Acids,” this means that they must be sourced in the diet, as the body cannot produce them on its own.
Foods that are rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids include:
Oily fish (such as salmon, mackerel and sardines)
Nuts and seeds (including hemp seeds, flax and chia seeds, walnuts)
Plant oils (such as hemp, flax and canola oil)
Foods rich in Omega-6 Fatty Acids include:
Certain seeds (such as pumpkin and sunflower seeds)
Nuts (such as pine nuts and pistachios)
Benefits of feeding hemp in relation to Omega Fatty Acids
Hemp Seeds and Hemp Seed Oil are a rich source of both Omega-3’s and Omega-6’s. Hemp seeds contain an optimal ratio of 3:1, which is beneficial for the body.
Hemp seeds are also a source of GLA which is the Omega-6 responsible for anti-inflammatory responses and highly beneficial for reducing the symptoms of arthritis.
As an all-natural, unprocessed and chemical free food source, hemp seeds are one of the greatest choices to include in the diet to ensure optimal health.
Studies have shown that providing hemp seed as a feed for laying hens can help to boost the Omega-3 content in eggs - which is another rich source of Omegas for your animal.