5 Health Benefits of Balancing Omega-3 and Omega-6
A frequently discussed topic is the importance of omega-3 fatty acids in your diet and the need to balance it with omega-6. For background, humans have evolved eating a diet that contained approximately equal amounts of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
Past Research: The Industrial Revolution
About 100 years ago, the Industrial Revolution introduced technology that allowed for the refining of vegetable and seed oils such as corn, cottonseed, soy, sunflower and safflower. The increased availability of vegetable oils led to a dramatic rise in the consumption of omega-6 fatty acids among the industrialized countries. Similarly, the introduction of animal feeds derived from grains rich in omega-6 fats has resulted in the production of meat, fish and eggs high in omega-6 fats and virtually void of omega-3 fats.
Recent Research: Western Diets & The Ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3
Today, in Western diets, the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids ranges from 15-30:1 instead of the pre-Industrial range of 1-2:1. Scientific evidence has established that a Western diet that provides high levels of omega-6 fats shifts the physiological state to one that promotes thrombosis, vasoconstriction (vein-narrowing), inflammation and poor cellular health.
The physiologic changes that result from high intake of omega-6 fats have been implicated in development of heart disease, diabetes, autoimmune and inflammatory diseases (rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, colitis, multiple sclerosis, lupus, asthma, etc.), depression, dementia and other chronic diseases. Excess omega-6 consumption and the corresponding proinflammatory physiologic state is considered one of the most pressing public health issues of the 21st century.
Suggested Use of Omega-6 & Omega-3’s
It has been suggested that increased intake of omega-3 fatty acids with concurrent reduction in omega-6 consumption is a simple public health intervention that could have significant impact on the health of modern society. This one simple diet change could improve quality of life, reduce health care costs, and promote healthy aging.
The American Heart Association
The American Heart Association recommends eating fish (particularly fatty fish) at least two times (two servings) a week. If you are not getting enough in your daily diet, fish oil supplements are an option.
Always consult with your physician, because he or she can look at your triglyceride levels and recommend the appropriate milligrams per day you need. One tip when shopping for a fish oil supplement is to look on the back label and make sure the EPA and DHA numbers add up to your recommended number.
Our 5 Health Benefits of Balancing Omega-3 and Omega-6:
- Good for your overall health.
- Helps to prevent cardiovascular disease.
- Develops, maintains and protects structures of the nervous system.
- Inflammatory response supports ocular tissue in the eyes and helps to protect against damage.
- Important component for the synthesis of new cell membranes and for the repair of existing cell membrane.
Interested in podcast? Check out Maximum Wellness, Episode 34: The Mediterranean Diet Reduces Breast Cancer Risk