Linolenic acid and linoleic acid are similarly named omega fatty acids that have different roles in human health and nutrition.
Linolenic acid most commonly refers to alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fatty acid found in many nuts, vegetables and cold-pressed oils.
Linoleic acid is the most common type of omega-6 fatty acid, an essential polyunsaturated fatty acid. Some linoleic acid foods include certain nuts, seeds and oils. Omega-6 fatty acids are an important part of a healthy diet and are particularly beneficial for your immune system and metabolism.
There is also Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) which is the conjugated form of linoleic acid that's more commonly found in animal-based foods like meat and milk products. Factors that influence CLA content include whether the animal has multiple stomachs and what kind of foods the animal was fed with.
Linoleic acid and conjugated linoleic acid are similar, but they behave differently in the body due to their different origins and small structural differences. Linoleic acid from cold-pressed oils is much easier to get than CLA from foods.
GLA & DGLA
There are also two types of fatty acids that have linolenic acid in their names: gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) and dihomo-gamma-linolenic acid (DGLA). They're found in various cold-pressed nut and seed oils. Such as cold-pressed, raw Flax Seed Oil and Walnut Oil. You can read more on them in other blog posts!
Chefs and home cooks have plenty of options when it comes to choosing which type of cold pressed oil to sauté, bake and drizzle with. Some oils, like coconut oil, are well known, and others, like sesame or poppy, are less familiar.