What is Omega 1

Omega-3 fatty acids

What are omega-3 fatty acids?

Omega-3 fatty acids, together with omega-6 fatty acids, belong to the group of polyunsaturated fatty acids and are essential for life. Essential fatty acids have to be taken in with food because the body cannot produce components of them itself. That is why omega fatty acids are also considered to be "good" fats: They provide important building materials for the organism.

The fatty acids consist of a carbon chain, oxygen and hydrogen atoms. Polyunsaturated fatty acids have two or more double bonds in their chemical structure. The position of the first double bond determines whether it is an omega-3 or an omega-6 fatty acid. With omega-3 fatty acids, the first double bond is on the third carbon atom, with omega-6 fatty acids on the sixth.

There are several omega-3 fatty acids, including:

  • Alpha linolenic acid
  • Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA)
  • Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA)

The body can convert alpha-linolenic acid into eicosapentaenoic acid, docosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid, but does so only to a small extent. The remodeling is inhibited by the presence of omega-6 linoleic acid, which is normally consumed more than linolenic acid.

Omega-3 fatty acids: effect

Among other things, unsaturated fatty acids serve the body as a component of cell membranes. There they ensure that these remain permeable and flexible. The brain is also largely made up of fat. The polyunsaturated docosahexaenoic acid is the most important fatty acid in the brain. In addition, some polyunsaturated fatty acids have an anti-inflammatory effect, are precursors of hormones and support cell division - this is especially true for omega-3s.

The omega fatty acids are particularly effective in heart health (which is why they are also considered "good"):

  • Positive influence on blood lipids: lower triglyceride and LDL levels, increase HDL cholesterol
  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Promotes blood circulation
  • Preventive cardiovascular diseases

Omega-3 fatty acids: Occurrence

Alpha-linolenic acid is mainly found in plant-based foods such as flax, rapeseed, walnut and their products. Chia seeds also contain alpha-linolenic acid. Eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid are mainly found in fatty sea fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring, tuna and sardines.

Omega-3 fatty acids: daily requirement

The German Nutrition Society (DGE) recommends covering 0.5 percent of total daily energy intake with the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid. The ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids should be 5: 1, i.e. five parts of omega-6 fatty acids to one part of omega-3 fatty acids. At the moment, however, the average ratio that one consumes is around 8: 1, because on average people eat more foods (fat, eggs and meat) that contain omega-6 fatty acids.

Like all unsaturated fatty acids, omega-3 fatty acids react quickly with oxygen. Protection against this is provided by antioxidants. So if you increase your intake of omega fatty acids, you should also consume more antioxidants, such as vitamin E.