Healthy Omega-3 and Omega-6 Ratios

There is a lot of research that I have come across over the last years that looks at most optimum ratio of Omega 3’s and Omega 6’s for humans.

Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are both essential fats that have a lot of overlap in terms of nutritional importance, but our bodies require them in different quantities for good health.

People living in western societies, such as the United States and the United Kingdom, eat many foods rich in omega-6 fatty acids — so many, in fact, that these regions are thought to eat too many omega-6 fatty acids compared to omega-3 fatty acids, according to research in Biochimie. Ideally, the ratio should be fairly small, but this can be hard if you eat a typical Western diet. Hence, it was long recommended for North American’s to avoid eating too many Omega 6’s as they are contained in most processed foods.

Lowering your ratio of omega-6 to omega-3s might even help with health issues, according to research in Biomedicine and Pharmacotherapy. Omega-6 to omega-3 in the range of 3:1 or 2:1 has been shown to help reduce inflammation in people with inflammatory diseases, while a ratio of 5-to-1 is helpful for those with asthma. In contrast, most Western diets have a ratio of 15:1 to 16.7:1, and ratios as low as 10:1 can have negative effects on your health.

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 higher than what people are genetically adapted to.

An omega-6 to omega-3 ratio that is too high may contribute to excess inflammation in the body, potentially raising the risk of various diseases.

The consumption of vegetable oils high in omega-6 has increased dramatically in the past 100 years. Scientists believe this may cause serious harm and have therefor continuously researched on the optimal ratio.

Scientists suspect that a high intake of omega-6 fatty acids, relative to omega-3, may promote several chronic diseases.

Here is a simple guide to optimize your balance of the omega fats:

  1. Avoid foods high in omega-6 (especially processed foods that contain them).
  2. Eat plenty of omega-3 rich foods
  3. Look for foods with a balance between Omega 3 and Omega 6

The Cold-Pressed Tip

It’s important to look at foods like cold-pressed oils, which most people use on a daily basis. Oils such as flax seed oil have a good ratio omega-3s and omega-6s, while those like walnut oil are much richer in omega-3s.

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