The Omega 6 & 3 Debate – Demystified!Lloyd Siewert
Theres a bit of a debate out there discussing Omega 6 and Omega 3..
In short our diets now seem to have a very high omega 6 to 3 ratio (between 10 and 20:1) whereas in pre industrial times it was though to be closer to 1:1 or 4:1. A casual link has been made between these excessive omega 6 ratios and various inflammatory diseases such as heart disease so what should we do? Stop eating Omega 6? Goodbye Avocados nuts and olive oil right?
Well it looks likes humans have over complicated it again..
as it turns out the vast majority if the excess omega 6 in our diets is coming from you guessed it – Fried foods, and processed packaged foods.
To quote Mark Sisson:
Americans get almost 70% of their PUFA (mostly omega-6) from oils, shortening, and margarine and just 6% from beans, seeds, and nuts, 1% from eggs, and 13% from meat, poultry, and fish as of 2004 (PDF).
So when we talk about omega-6 intake, we’re really talking about french fries (cooked in vegetable oil), packaged pastries (made with shortening), and processed, high-sugar, high-(vegetable)fat junk food intake.
If most of our omega-6 is coming from the linoleic acid found in cooking oils and processed baked goods, most of the omega-6 we’re eating is highly oxidized, rancid, and maybe even worse. – Mark Sisson (full article below).
Ok so what can we do? Well heres the rub, quality omega 6 such as the kind you find in uncooked natural sources like olive oil, nuts avocado and grass fed meat is great, its essential and has many of the same benefits as omega 3.
Omega 3 is also essential and should also be sought for in the diet in uncooked forms. But another great way to assist here would be to supplement with between 1000mg to 6000mg of fish oil per day to help correct the imbalance and also ensure your getting enough omega 3 period! unless you eat a lot of oily fish and flaxseeds your modern diet is possible a little low and theres a host of health benefits you could be missing out on particularly from the EPA and DHA content. World health organisations recommend a minimum 250mg and up to 3000mg of combined EPA/DHA. So depending on your supplements concentration thats anywhere from one to 6 gel caps daily.
Heres a quick rundown of what foods contain each of these essential fatty acids:
Omega-6: Vegetable oils (eg, peanut, soybean, sunflower, safflower, corn, cottonseed, grapeseed), salad dressings, mayonnaise, margarines, most nuts and their butters
Omega-3: Flaxseeds, hemp, chia seeds, walnuts, Fish (especially cold-water fatty fish), algae, grass-fed meat.
Another pro tip is to combine your Omegas (or any fats really) with Vitamin E to further reduce the potential for oxidisation.
Oxidisation of heat sensitive omega 6 oils is where the inflammatory markers seem to come into play, previously it was though that the Arachadonic acid content of the excess omega 6’s was the cause of the negative health effects however new research shows this to be unlikely and the known health risks of deep fried and hydrogenated oils which become trans fats. So if you’re deep frying your chips in vegetable oil, yes you will drive up your omega 6 ratio but you will also be exposed to high oxidised unstable trans fats that are known to drive up negative health markers such as bad cholesterol and inflammation – make sense?
EPA / DHA Ratio in my Omega 3?
Health organisations indicate that an overall combined EPA/DHA content is all that really matters, but for those of you that want to look at the fine print heres some proported benefits of different EPA/DHA ratio’s:
A 2:1 EPA:DHA ratio seems to more effectively address inflammatory risk factors.
However, a 1:1 EPA:DHA ratio was more effective at alleviating liver damage, evidenced by lower liver enzyme levels.
The focus on DHA for cognitive health has led to an emphasis on a higher DHA:EPA ratio. This ratio may be ideal for those concerned about their cognitive health, but for others attempting to modulate inflammation, a higher EPA:DHA ratio may be best.
How to live long by tweaking your omegas?
1. Lower your fried foods and packaged / processed foods (look for the word “hydrogenated” on the back.
2. Get 6000mg of fish oil a day like a boss (coining for 3000mg EPA/DHA
3. Add some vitamin E alongside your omega 3 supplements or fatty meals
And don’t cut out healthy sources of Omega 6 such as Olive oil, Avocados and nuts, they have plenty of health benefits too!
Now lets kick it till the year 3000 #liveforever
Resources I pulled this information from: