Omega 3 vs 6 Fatty Acids

omega 3 vs 6

When researching a previous post about healing fats, I learned from Unlockfood.ca that the balance between omega 3 vs 6 fats is another health concern. Basically, most of us consume too many omega 6’s and not enough omega 3’s. Read on for the ideal ratio between the two fatty acids, and how to tip the balance to ensure you are achieving it.

What’s the Difference?

First of all, you have to know the difference between omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. Both are important for maintaining a healthy body and neither is manufactured by our bodies, so must be obtained from our diets. The trick is knowing which foods provide which fatty acid so you can alter this very important ratio between them in your diet.

While omega 6’s are found in the foods within a common modern daily diet, omega 3’s are usually supplemented. Both omega 3’s and omega 6’s have health benefits and drawbacks.  

Omega 3’s:

Omega 3’s are crucial for our brain, hormone, and immune function,  good vision and hair, skin, cell, and tissue growth. They are helpful in treating symptoms of lupus, asthma, osteoporosis, arthritis, diabetes, breast and colon cancers, and irritable bowel disease.  A deficiency in omega 3’s can result in conditions such as depression and mood swings, poor memory, fatigue, poor circulation, dry skin, and more. Avoiding these adverse, unhealthy conditions is a great reason to learn how to do so.

For maximum doses of omega 3’s, choose from this list:

  • cold water fish (sardines, salmon, herring etc) and fish oil
  • fresh fruit and vegetables
  • garlic, flax seeds,  walnuts
  • extra virgin olive oil

Omega 6’s

Omega 6’s are helpful in treating the symptoms of arthritis, diabetic nerve pain, menopause, high blood pressure, multiple sclerosis, eczema, and even allergies. Too many omega 6’s on the other hand can cause depression, dyslexia, obesity, hyperactivity, and other health problems.

For doses of omega 6’s, (in moderation to achieve the healthiest ratio of omega 3 vs 6) choose from this list:

  • wheat, whole-grain bread, and cereals
  • grain-fed chicken and their eggs
  • refined vegetable (soy, corn, sunflower, safflower) and grape seed oils
  • nuts
  • meat from grain-fed animals
  • processed and fast foods

Ideal Ratio of Omega 3 vs 6 Fats

The trick is to strive for the correct ratio between omega 3 vs 6 fatty acids. The problem comes when too many omega 6’s, especially from vegetable oils and grain-fed (as opposed to grass-fed) meat are consumed. These outweigh and overtake the benefits of omega 3’s.  This happens because the omega 3’s and omega 6’s compete for the same enzymes to aid in their metabolism.

Although a ratio of 1:1 between omega 3 vs 6 is the ideal balance to strive for, studies have shown modern diets to be as high as 1:16.   This higher proportion of omega 6’s is leading to the increase of many disease states within our modern societies including arthritis, heart disease, autoimmune diseases, and other inflammatory processes, as well as numerous types of cancer.

Start getting healthier by paying attention to the ratio of omega 3 vs 6 fatty acids in your diet. Then make some changes before your health takes a turn for the worse.

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