Who has not heard of omega 3 fatty acids? Considered to be among the essential fatty acids, their name has now been promptly displayed on many food labels so as to cause consumers who are becoming more health conscious to purchase the products that contain them. While the ingestion of fatty acids is a time honored solution to an inability to synthesize them within the body, the trans fatty acids in fast food have given the term fatty acids somewhat of a bad name, and many consumes are becoming quickly and hopelessly confused over which fatty acids are good and healthy, and which are unhealthy and need to be avoided.

Trans-fatty acids are the bad boys of the fatty acid world. Build up of these substances in the body is directly linked to heart disease as well as atherosclerosis. Found in foods such as snack foods – chips – and fried food – doughnuts – it is not surprising that these food choices have come under serious scrutiny as of late, leading even to the change in cooking methods of leading fast food purveyors.

The good guys of the fatty acids are called the omega-3 fatty acids, and they are found in fish, canola oil, seeds, leafy veggies, and also nuts. Benefits of omega 3 fatty acids include increase cardiac health as well as stabilization of neuron receptors regulating moods. Foods containing omega 3 fatty acids naturally are always preferred over those that contain a 3 acid fatty omega supplement, such as orange juice that is now being sold supplemented with fish oil. While the latter is impossible to detect by taste, the benefits of the former when combined with the omega 3 fatty acid from fish packs a double punch for heart health.

While it is easy to take for granted fatty acids and especially omega 3 fatty acids from fish and other sources, it is important to understand that not all acids are created equal. For example, the tall oil fatty acid is not indicated for human consumption but instead plays a valuable role in soap and lubricant manufacture. Furthermore, keep in mind that the omega 3 fatty acid source is just as important as its ingredient. Thus, while omega 3 fatty acids may be found in fish, so are mercury and other heavy metals. Overindulging in fish so as to supply the body with an adequate amount of the healthy substance may have adverse effects in the long run.