Omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids are called polyunsaturated fats because they need many double bonds. Your body doesn’t have the enzymes to supply them, so you want to get them from your diet.
If you don’t get any from your diet, you develop a deficiency and become sick. That’s why they’re termed “essential” fatty acids.
However, these fatty acids are different than most other fats. They’re not simply used for energy or stored, they’re biologically active and have important roles in processes like blood coagulation and inflammation.
But omega 6 fatty acids and omega 3 fatty acids don’t have an equivalent effects. Scientists believe omega 6 fatty acids are pro-inflammatory, while omega 3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory.
Of course, inflammation is important for your survival. It helps protect your body from infection and injury, but it also can cause severe damage and contribute to disease when it’s chronic or excessive.
In fact, chronic inflammation could also be one among the leading drivers of the foremost serious modern diseases, including heart condition , metabolic syndrome, diabetes, arthritis, Alzheimer’s and lots of sorts of cancer.
Scientists have hypothesized that a diet high in omega 6 fatty acids but low in omega-3s increases inflammation, while a diet that has balanced amounts of every reduces inflammation.
Those who follow a Western diet are typically eating way an excessive amount of omega-6s relative to omega-3s. Many believe this is often a significant ill health .
An omega-6 to omega-3 ratio that’s too high may contribute to excess inflammation within the body, potentially raising the danger of varied diseases.
How Much Omega 6 Did Non-Industrial Populations Eat?
According to Dr. Stephan Guyenet, typical omega 6 to omega 3 ratios for pre-industrial populations ranged from 4:1 to 1:4.
Hunter-gatherers who ate mostly land animals consumed these fats at ratios of 2:1 to 4:1, while the Inuit, who ate mostly omega 3 rich seafood, had a ratio of 1:4. Other pre-industrial populations were somewhere in between.
Anthropological evidence also suggests that the ratio citizenry evolved eating was somewhere around 1:1, while the ratio today is about 16:1.
Although these populations had a lower anticipation than modern people, some researchers estimate that chronic lifestyle diseases, like heart condition and diabetes, were much less common.
Not only did pre-industrial populations get much less omega 6 from their diets, they also got more workout , ate less sugar and didn’t have access to modern food .
All of those factors could explain their lower rates of recent lifestyle diseases. However, the effect can’t be solely attributed to a lower intake of omega 6 fatty acids.
People who ate a pre-industrial diet had an omega 6 to omega 3 ratio of about 4:1 to 1:4, most falling somewhere in between. The ratio today is 16:1, much above what people are genetically adapted to.
The Problem with the Western Diet
Western populations are eating large amounts of processed seed and vegetable oils. A number of these oils are loaded with omega-6s.
The technology to process these oils didn’t exist until about 100 years ago, and other people haven’t had time to genetically adapt to the high amounts of omega-6.
In the graph below, you’ll see the dramatic increase in soyabean oil consumption within the US, from zero to 24 pounds (11 kgs) per person per annum . This amounted to a whopping 7% of total calories within the year 1999.
Soybean oil is currently the most important source of omega 6 fatty acids within the US because it’s really cheap and located altogether kinds of processed foods.
In the graph below, you’ll see how the quantity of this fatty acids found in body fat stores has increased by quite 200% (3-fold) within the past 50 years alone.
Thus, the fats people are eating today are resulting in actual changes in their bodies, both in terms of their body fat stores and cell wall health.
A high amount of omega 6 in cell membranes is strongly related to the danger of heart condition , which makes perfect sense given their potential pro-inflammatory effects:
However, no high-quality controlled studies have investigated the consequences of omega 6 fatty acids on heart condition.
Also, controlled studies show that carboxylic acid “> linolic acid — the foremost common omega 6 fatty acid — doesn’t increase levels of inflammatory markers.
In fact, it remains unclear whether a high intake of omega 6 fatty acids has any effects on the danger of chronic lifestyle diseases.
On the opposite hand, many evidence supports the positive health effects of omega 3 fatty acids. For instance , their heart benefits are significant.
Omega-3s can also improve all kinds of mental disorders like depression, schizophrenia and manic depression.
Nonetheless, excessive intake of polyunsaturated fatty acids, including omega-3 and omega-6, has several risks. The double bonds within the carboxylic acid molecules are very reactive.
They tend to react with oxygen, forming chain reactions of free radicals. These free radicals can cause cell damage, which is one among the mechanisms behind aging and therefore the onset of cancer.
If you would like to enhance your ratio of omega-6 to omega-3, it’s probably a nasty idea to eat tons of omega 3 to compensate. Having a comparatively low, balanced amount of every is best.
The consumption of vegetable oils high in omega-6 has increased dramatically within the past 100 years. Scientists believe this might cause serious harm.
Avoid Vegetable Oils High In Omega 6
The single most vital thing you’ll do to scale back your omega-6 intake is avoid processe d seed. And vegetable oils that are high in omega 6, also because the processe d foods that contain them.
You can see that butter, copra oil , lard, vegetable oil and vegetable oil are all relatively low in omega-6.
In contrast, sunflower, corn, soybean and cottonseed oils contain the very best amounts.
For more information on healthy cooking oils, read this text .
It’s important to understand that taking advantage of a diet low in this fatty acids may be a long-term process and requires permanent lifestyle changes.
Most people store immense amounts of omega 6 fatty acids in their body fat, and it can take a short time to urge obviate them.
If you’re concerned about omega-6 fatty acids, use vegetable oils that contain low amounts of omega-6 fatty acids, like vegetable oil . Also, consider taking omega-3 supplements or eating fatty fish twice per week.
The most important thing you’ll do to scale back omega-6 intake is to eliminate processed vegetable oils from your diet, also because the processed foods that contain them.
Eat Fish Foods That Are High In Omega 3
Fish foods are among the simplest sources of the preformed omega 3 fatty acids EPA and DHA.
One problem today is that animals are usually fed grain-based feeds containing soy and corn.
This reduces their omega 3 contents, therefore the polyunsaturated fats within the meat are mostly omega 6.
Therefore, if you’ll afford it, grass-fed meat is certainly optimal. However, even conventionally raised meat is healthy, as long because it isn’t processe d.
Even some conventionally raised meats like chicken and pork could also be high in omega 6. If you would like to decrease your omega 6 intake the maximum amount as possible. Choose meats from the leaner parts of these animals.
It’s also an honest idea to shop for pastured or omega 3 enriched eggs. Which are higher in omega 3 fatty acids, compare d to eggs from hens raise d on grain-based feeds.
One effective thanks to increase your omega 3 intake is to eat seafood once or twice per week. Fatty fish like salmon are particularly good sources.
If you eat tons of conventionally raised meats and/or don’t eat much seafood, consider taking a animal oil supplement. Cod liver oil may be a good selection that contains added vitamins D and A.
There also are some plant sources of omega 3, including flax and chia seeds. However, these contain a kind of omega 3 called ALA. The physical body is inefficient at converting ALA into the active forms — EPA and DHA.
For this reason, animal sources of omega 3 fatty acids, like fish and grass-fed animals, are usually better choices. However, vegan-friendly supplements containing EPA and DHA from algae are available.
You can increase your intake of omega 3 fatty acids by taking supplements or eating grass-fed meat or fatty fish.
The Bottom Line
Scientists suspect that a high intake of omega 6 fatty acids, relative to omega 3, may promote several chronic diseases.
However, there’s still no compelling evidence to support this theory. More high-quality studies are neede d to research the potential health effects of excessive omega-6 fat intakes.
If you’re concerned, this is often an easy guide to optimize your balance of the omega fats:
Avoid vegetable oils high in omega 6 (and the processed foods that contain them).
Eat many omega 3 rich fish, including something from the ocean a minimum of once or twice every week .
If needed, supplement with an omega 3 source like fish oil .