Omega-3 fatty acids play a vital role in keeping cell structures strong throughout the body, but because we can only synthesize a small amount, we need to get these needed fats from our diet. Omega-3s can be found in fatty fish such as tuna or mackerel. But many Americans do not eat fish in high enough quantities.
Instead, we tend to consume more omega-6 fatty acids from canola, sunflower, corn, and soybean oil. That means people often don’t get needed amounts of omega-3s in their diet. This nutritional shortfall can lead to an imbalance in the body between omega-3s and omega-6s.
Structurally, these fatty acids are both polyunsaturated fats. Meaning they’re chemically made of double bonds and they’re not used for storage or energy, like other types of fatty acids. But functionally, they are like oil and water: while omega-3s have anti-inflammatory properties, omega-6s are pro-inflammatory, which is why we want fewer of these and more omega-3s.1