Omega Fatty Acids...
3 vs. 6...
6 is Winning...

Know the Difference Between Your Omega Fatty Acids

Omega 3 versus Omega 6

One of the most important things you can do to improve your overall health is to eat more omega-3 fat and reduce your intake of omega-6 fat.

Both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are essential fats. "Essential" means that you need to eat them because your body can't make them from scratch.

Where Do I Get Omega-3 Fatty Acids?

  • Plant Sources: Flaxseeds and flaxseed oil are the best plant sources, but walnuts and pumpkin seeds also contain omega-3s.
  • Marine Sources: Fish (especially fatty fish like salmon and sardines).

Where Do I Get Omega-6 Fatty Acids?

  • corn oil
  • soy oil
  • canola oil
  • safflower oil
  • sunflower oil

Even if you don't buy bottles of any of these types of oils to cook with, you ingest them unknowingly in processed foods and the restaurant foods you eat.

Although omega-6 is an essential fat, getting enough of it isn't the problem.

Getting too much of it is.

A bad omega fatty acid ratio (too little omega-3, too much omega-6) tends to be a result of eating too many processed foods and not enough fish or flaxseed.

Fish, after all, can be expensive - and some people don't like it - and ground flaxseed is unfamiliar to most people and not really a mainstream food. Similarly, many people don't want the extra calories from eating seeds, nuts and oils.

Eat Food...Not Chemicals!

Looking for other ways
to lighten your toxic load?

Avoid mercury in fish
Consider organics when possible
Use this organic produce priority list
Improve Omega 3/Omega 6 ratio
Steer clear of food additives
Limit processed foods
Drink clean water
Know where toxins hide
Don't let label claims mislead you
Top 10 detox foods
Be scared of Frankenfoods!

The result...

...too much omega-6 fat and not enough omega-3.

Western diets are deficient in omega-3 fatty acids, and have excessive amounts of omega-6 fatty acids compared with the diet on which we human beings evolved.

Omega Fatty Acids: The Ideal Ratio

1 to 1. That's the ratio we evolved on!

So what's the average ratio the way we eat today?

Somewhere between 15 to 1 and 17 to 1!

The consequence?

Poor health. This crazy high omega-6/omega-3 ratio promotes many diseases, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, and inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.

So how can we improve our omega-6/omega-3 ratio? By eating more omega-3 and less omega-6, of course! Here's how...

Omega Fatty Acids: Ways to Increase Omega-3s

  • Have lox (smoked salmon) and toast for breakfast. (Easy on the cream cheese!)
  • Substitute canned salmon for canned tuna when you make sandwiches.
  • Try one of my favorite meals: Mix canned sardines with plain yogurt and sauteed onion. Really, it's great!
  • Sprinkle ground flaxseeds over yogurt or cereal at breakfast or on salads at lunch and dinner.
  • Mix ground flaxseeds with peanut butter or almond butter and make a sandwich.
  • Snack on walnuts or pumpkin seeds (in small ~ 1/4 cup portions).
  • Sprinkle walnuts or pumpkin seeds on cereals and salads.
  • Dress salads with flaxseed oil or walnut oil or pumpkin seed oil.
  • Add flaxseed oil, walnut oil, or pumpkin seed oil to fruit smoothies.
  • Toss walnut oil with (whole wheat) pasta and steamed green beans or spinach. Top with a sprinkling of blue cheese.
  • For Sunday brunch, grill a thick slice of fruit bread, drizzle with walnut oil, top with slices of ripe pear, a few toasted walnuts and a bit of raw honey. Top off with a dollop of nonfat Greek yogurt.

Omega Fatty Acids: Ways to Decrease Omega-6s

  • Eat less processed food.
  • Avoid foods cooked in "vegetable oil."
  • Request foods prepared in olive oil when dining out.

More healthy eating.

More on omega fatty acids from the American Heart Association.

Back to Personal Nutrition Guide Home.