Omega-6 fatty acids, just as important as Omega-3

Omega-6 fatty acids, just as important as Omega-3
Omega-6 fatty acids, just as important as Omega-3

We’re sure you hear about omega-3 fatty acids all the time. Seems like the buzzword in the world of nutrition! Omega-6 fatty acids seem like the underdogs and not many people know about them. In the post, we tell you why you need them and how you can get them from your daily diet.


Although omega-6 fatty acids are available in the form of supplements, they can be easily obtained from various dietary sources. As these are categorized as fats, foods containing high amounts of omega-6 fatty acids are oils, non-vegetarian foods and nuts.

Oils – Known as healthy fats, omega-6 fatty acids are present in high amounts in various types of seed oils and vegetable oils like soy nuts, canola oil, sunflower, corn, safflower, soybean, cotton seed, primrose and olive oil.

Nuts – Although these fats can be obtained from various dry fruits and nuts, the ones that contain high amounts of fat include walnuts, almonds, Brazil nuts and peanuts.

Seeds – There are few seeds that fulfil the dietary requirement of omega-6 fatty acids. These include safflower seeds, sesame seeds and pumpkin seeds.

Non-vegetarian foods – The non-vegetarian platter for obtaining high amounts of omega-6 fatty acids include all types of fish, namely, salmon, mackerel and tuna, meat and poultry.

7 health benefits of omega-6 fatty acids

Just as omega-3 fatty acids are good for health, omega-6 fatty acids are known to play important functions in the body. Although both the fatty acids are needed to maintain overall well-being, experts suggest that omega-3/omega-6 ratio has to be maintained to increase their effectiveness. Also it is important to consume omega-6 fatty acids only in required amounts, as research studies have proved that high intake of these fats may render negative effect on your health. However, omega-6 fatty acids are packed with myriad health benefits, some of which are listed below.

1. Helps in weight loss

Linoleic acids, important omega-6 fatty acids, improve lean body mass along with reducing body fat. In this way, these fats are known to be effective in weight management.

2. Reduces risk of heart disease

Omega-6 fatty acids play a significant role in lowering the risk of lower heart disease. It reduces LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) and also decreases inflammation in the body, thereby protecting against health complications.

3. Relieves skin problems

Although there is no scientific evidence stating the fact that primrose oil (rich in omega-6 fatty acids) reduces symptoms of allergies and eczema, it is widely used to relieve skin problems [2]. GLA (gamma-Linolenic acid) present in these fats acts as anti-inflammatory reducing skin irritations and rashes.

4. Improves brain function

It is a well-known fact that consumption of omega-6 fats improves brain activity and behavioural function. The presence of gamma-Linoleic acid in these fats helps in the development of healthy cells and maintains nerve activity, thereby improving your brain health.

5. Helps in cancer treatment

It is the presence of GLA and arachidonic acid in omega-6 fatty acids that help in breast cancer treatment. It is found that GLA improves the response of tamoxifen (drug used to treat breast cancer) and also inhibits tumour activity, thereby aid cancer treatment.

6. Improves ADHD symptoms

According to latest clinical studies, children with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) were found to have low levels of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids [4]. As omega-6 fatty acids help in brain development and function, consumption of foods contain these fats might help in improving the symptoms. Studies related to this are still in their initial stages.

7. Prevents osteoporosis in women

Women taking omega-6 fats supplements along with omega- 3 fatty acids are at a lower risk of osteoporosis. Hence, women are recommended to include foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids in their diet to increase bone density and prevent related complications. Also, consumption of foods rich in omega-6 fats protect against rheumatoid arthritis.

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