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When researching a previous post about healing fats, I learned that the balance between omega 3 fats and omega 6 fats is another health concern. Most of us consume too many omega 6s and not enough omega 3s. Read on for the ideal ratio and how to achieve 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.
While omega 6s are found in the foods within a common modern daily diet, omega 3s are usually supplemented. Both Omega 3s and Omega 6s have health benefits and drawbacks.
Omega 3s 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 3s can result in conditions such as depression and mood swings, poor memory, fatigue, poor circulation, dry skin, and more.
- cold water fish (sardines, salmon, herring etc) and fish oil
- fresh fruit and vegetables
- garlic, flax seeds, walnuts
- extra virgin olive oil
While omega 6s are helpful in treating the symptoms of arthritis, diabetic nerve pain, menopause, high blood pressure, multiple sclerosis, eczema, and even allergies, too much omega 6s can cause depression, dyslexia, obesity, hyperactivity, and other health problems.
- wheat, whole-grain bread, and cereals
- grain fed chicken and their eggs
- refined vegetable (soy, corn, sunflower, safflower) and grape seed oils
- meat from grain fed animals
- processed and fast foods
Ideal Ratio of Omega 6s to Omega 3s
The problem comes when too much omega 6s, especially from vegetable oils and grain-fed (as opposed to grass-fed) meat, outweigh and overtake the benefits of omega 3s. This happens because the omega 3s and omega 6s compete for the same enzymes to aid in their metabolism.
Although a ratio of 1:1 between omega 6s and omega 3s is the ideal balance to strive for, studies have shown modern diets to be as high as 16:1 This higher proportion of omega 6s 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 paying attention to the ratio of omega 6 fatty acids to omega 3 fatty acids in your diet and make some changes before your health takes a turn for the worse!