For ages, olive oil has had its culinary usage in traditional Mediterranean cuisine. However, in the recent years, this oil has gained widespread popularity as one of healthiest cooking oils. Wondering if olive oil is high in omega 3 fatty acids? Go through the following piece of read to understand the nutrient content of heart-healthy olive oil and to know if olive oil is high in omega 3.
Is Olive Oil High In Omega 3?
Olive oil has gained much popularity in recent times and is widely used for healthy cooking. Olive oil is also available in the form of capsules and tinctures. Not only is it low in low density lipoprotein (LDL), but contains many essential nutrients which are vital for the healthy functioning of the body. To know whether olive oil is high in omega 3 fatty acids or not, it is important to understand the nutrient content of this heart-healthy oil.
Do vegetable oils contain essential fatty acids? Well, most producers of vegetable oils market their products as rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. This suggestion makes people believe that these oils contain essential acids like ALA, EPA and DHA, but this is however not true. Actually, natural vegetable oils do not contain omega-3 fatty acids like eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These acids are only found in marine oils. However, certain vegetable oils do contain the fatty acid, alpha linolenic acid (ALA).
Olive oil is one such exception. It contains up to 15% of ALA. Other sources of ALA are soybean, canola and linseed oils. Some foods which contain good amount of ALA are walnuts and chia seeds.
The question, is olive oil high in omega 3, can be answered after knowing about the fat content on olive oil. Olive oil contains both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, but the percentage of omega 6 is more than omega 3. Omega-3 fatty acids are vital for preventing cardiovascular disease. This fatty acid is specifically present in high amounts in oily fish like salmon and in flax seed oil. While olive oil contain omega 3, it is not that high in omega-3.
According to the medical experts, essential fatty acids should make up 1 to 2% of the dietary calories for adults, with a recommended ratio of omega-6: omega-3 fatty acids being 10:1. If only olive oil is used as the source of dietary fat by a person, and fats make up for 30% of the calories in their diet, then they would be getting 3% of their dietary calories in the form of essential fatty acids in a 10:1 ratio. Recent studies have suggested that a lower ratio of 5:1 can be more beneficial.
Why are EPA and DHA Useful for the Body?
EPA and DHA are important for proper metabolism, but the human body cannot produce them on its own. These fatty acids need to be acquired from the diet. The body uses shorter-chain omega-3 fatty acid, ALA, to form the more essential long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, EPA. Similarly, EPA is used to form the most crucial, DHA. But the rate of conversion is very limited and the ratio is less than 15%. So, the direct intake of EPA and DHA is more practical. The food one eats affects their overall health.
Hence, a person should be watchful about the quality of their diet.
Thus, while olive oil contain both omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, it is not high in omega 3. Olive oil does contain healthy fats and nutrients, which are good for health. Moreover, olive oil is better than saturated fats but if your are looking at a dose of omega 3 fatty acids, olive oil may not be able to offer much.