Recently we hear a lot about the so-called good fats, the Omega 3 fatty acids, and their important role for the functioning of the brain and for the prevention of neurodegenerative diseases.

I have heard about supplementation advices of these fats for vegetarian diets.

Did it happen to you? Probably yes.

Well, let’s start to see what these fats are and then you can answer to this question by yourself.

Omega 3 are ESSENTIAL polyunsaturated fatty acids, which means that the body can not synthesized, but it must introduce them through diet.

In the human organism Omega 3 play very important roles as precursors of a complex group of molecules with anti-inflammatory properties, the eicosanoids, and as fundamental constituents of cell membranes.

The presence of Omega 3 fatty acids indeed induces fluidity and plasticity to the cell membrane, essential characteristics for the correct function of the cells, especially for the cells of the nervous system: the neurons!

Recent studies indeed found a higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease in the elderly with a diets low in polyunsaturated Omega 3 fatty acids.

It is therefore very important to know how to assume these fats with food and how to avoid some dangerous mistakes that could damage our health, like an unbalanced ratio of ingested Omega 6 versus Omega 3 fatty acids.


In fact, Omega 6 are also essential polyunsaturated fatty acids, but they are precursors of another series of molecules this time with a “pro” inflammatory function.

To simplify a lot, and only in relation to Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, we can write this equation:

Omega 3 :  Omega 6  =  anti-inflammation :  pro-inflammation

Then, in order to correctly balance the production of anti-inflammatory and pro-inflammatory molecules, the ratio between Omega 3 and Omega 6 should be approximately 1 : 4

BUT this ratio is often completely unbalanced toward the Omega 6 fatty acids and therefore toward inflammation!

The American diet, rich in fried, baked cakes, snacks and various sweets, has reached a ratio of 1 : 20 !

How is it possible ???

This is due to the fact that in nature the Omega 6 fatty acids are much more common than the Omega 3, so it is easy to unbalance this ratio with very important consequences on health.

Indeed, by ingesting almost only Omega 6 fatty acids, as in fast food and in general in the american diet, the signals of inflammation are excessively stimulated. These trigger out a series of metabolisms modifications in the organism  that eventually lead to many diseases, recently widespread in the so-called industrialized countries.


Diabetes, hypertension, obesity, cardiovascular diseases, metabolic syndrome …

These diseases are reaching vertiginous peaks not by chance!

They are becoming a huge business for the pharmaceutical companies, along with chemotherapeutic drugs!

.. but this is not the right place to deal with this topic!


What I want to point out here is that, as free and smart citizen, we can actually make the difference, we can modify these tendencies and stop these “epidemics”!


Knowledge is the best defense… and the biggest fear of those who want to control the trade at the expense of the health.

Learn and then choose how and what to eat!

Coming back to our fatty acids, Omega 3 versus Omega 6, as I said Omega 6 can be found almost everywhere, especially in seed oils, packaged products, ready meals, baked cakes … while Omega 3 fatty acids, in vegetarian foods, are present in abundance mainly in the following aliments:

  • flaxseed and linseed oil (the excellence source of these fats!)
  • chia seeds
  • hemp seeds
  • walnuts
  • soy
  • green leaves
  • seaweeds

So, for a correct daily intake of Omega 3 fatty acids you can choose between the above-mentioned foods and above all be also careful to limit the seeds oils, the hydrogenated and trans fats (such as margarine!)

Instead, choose extra virgin olive oil.

A good habit is to add 4-5 walnuts a day, for example at breakfast together with some wholemeal biscuits.



And what about the fish as a Omega 3 source?

Fish is rich in Omega 3 simply because it eats seaweeds! 🙂

So, if you like them, the best choice is to add seaweeds to your diet, varying different types and choosing them always from the Atlantic ocean. In this way you will also introduce the long chain Omega 3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA, without need for any other supplementation!

Concluding, with a varied vegetarian diet rich in the previous foods, you does not need integration of Omega 3 polyunsaturated fats.

A special attention must be paid to the elderly, pregnant women and people with any liver problems. In this cases a supplementation of long chain Omega 3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) may be required.

Finally, remember that Omega 3 fatty acids are extremely sensitive to temperature!

In fact, flaxseeds oil must be bought and kept always in fridge.

… and fish then?

Well, you have to just eat it raw or better choose other sources 🙂

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