The Healthy Omega-6 to Omega-3 Ratio
Omega -6 and Omega-3 are also known as the essential fatty acids. These have to be consumed from the diet as the body cannot produce them and are therefore termed “essential”. Both are polyunsaturated fatty acids that vary from each other in their chemical structure and have opposite effect in the body. Omega-6s are pro-inflammatory, while Omega-3s have an anti-inflammatory effect. Due to this opposing effect of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, our diet should contain a balanced omega-6 and omega-3 ratio.
Too much Omega-6 and too little Omega-3 can be fatal and is one of the main reason behind various modern day diseases. Today in most industrialized nations across the world people are consuming way too much Omega-6 as compared to Omega-3. This imbalance is mainly due to the contemporary day food items being too high in Omega-6 and too low in Omega-3.
The damaging effects of too much Omega-6
Omega -6 is essential for human body and is pro-inflammatory in nature. Inflammation is necessary for a healthy living as it protects the tissue from infections, injury and damage. But too much of inflammation can be very dangerous. Inflammation is the chief cause of various diseases like coronary heart disease, asthma, arthritis, Alzheimer’s and many types of cancer. Most of the modern day diet is packed with Omega-6. Any seed oil or processed oil like soybean, sunflower, peanut, corn and canola oils have high amounts of Omega-6 in them. This overabundance of omega-6 is misbalancing the omega-6 to omega -3 ratios and harming our body.The only way to regain the balance is by increasing omega-3 intake.
The Benefits of Omega-3 Intake
Omega-3 fatty acids have numerous health benefits due to its anti-inflammatory properties. Here are some of the ailments where intake of Omega-3 can be very beneficial:
- High cholesterol and coronary heart disease
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Inflammatory Bowel disorder
- Macular degeneration
- Skin issues (eczema and psoriasis)
Omega -3 is also beneficial for maintain overall health and vigor, supports weight loss and is great for hair and skin.
The best way to increase the intake of Omega-3 is to introduce a few Omega-3 rich foods in your daily diet. Some of the foods rich in Omega-3 are sea foods like mackerel, salmon, sardines, herring and oyster. Plant based Omega-3 rich foods are walnut, flaxseed, chia seed and hemp seeds.
How to Balance Omega -3 and Omega- 6 ratio?
According to various researches on fatty acids, most of the early human diet consisted of a balanced Omega-3 and Omega -6 intakes. The ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 fats was probably about 1-to-1. But a typical city dweller now eats more Omega-6s than Omega-3s and the ratio stands at 16:1. The intake of Omega-6 is much higher and this needs to be rectified.
The best way to regain a healthy balance is by increasing the intake of Omega-3. One can eat an Omega-3 rich diet and also consume Omega-3 supplements. The other was to shift the balance is by reducing the intake of Omega-6 rich oils and shifting to monounsaturated oils like olive, canola and sesame.