More Omega3 fatty acids is good for you right? So More Omega 6 fatty acids must be good for you too, right? Wrong.

Healthy Omega fatty acids are not just restricted to DHA and EPA. There are in fact a number of Omega fats. One of these Omega  fats is an Omega 6 fatty acid, or LA. You would assume that if Omega 3 fatty acids are good for your health then Omega 6 fatty acids should also be good for your health, and that foods high in Omega 6 should be eaten in larger quantities.

Let’s examine the difference between Omega three fatty acids and Omega six fatty acids and see whether we should also increase our intake of foods high in Omega 6.

Omega 6 fats are what is known as essential fatty acids. Essential fatty acids are acids which the body needs and which cannot produce itself and therefore must come from the food that we eat. This includes both the Omega 3 fats as well as the Omega 6 fats.

All the Omega 3  and Omega 6 fatty acids are important to our health however our intake of our Omega6 fats has increased dramatically in the last 100 years. The US Department of agriculture has estimated that our intake of Omega 6 fatty acids has more than doubled in the last 100 years. Other estimates are even higher than this. Unfortunately our intake of Omega three fats has reduced dramatically during the same period.

The American Heart Association estimates that during this same period rates of heart disease in our population have increased dramatically. It draws a link between the decrease in intake of Omega 3 fatty acids and an increase in the intake of Omega 6 fatty acids and this increase in heart disease rates.Omega 6 Fatty Acids

Why would this be so? During the same period the Omega 3 Omega 6 ratio has changed dramatically in some of our most important food sources. Foods that traditionally had reasonable levels of beneficial Omega 3 fats have now become foods high in Omega 6. An example is meat.

In the past cows ate a diet of grass. This is a diet rich in Omega three fats found in the grass. Therefore the food products that are produced from cows, namely meat and dairy products, were high in Omega 3 fats. However cows now are mainly fed in feedlots and are fed a diet high in grains like corn and soy which produce a much higher level of Omega 6 in the meat and dairy products that result.

The same applies to chickens. Traditionally chickens ate grass and insects that ate grass and both of these produced chicken and eggs that were high in Omega 3. Now chickens are fed grains high in Omega 6 and the resultant meat and eggs are also higher in Omega six fatty acids and lower in Omega three fats.

Scientists also discovered around the middle of last century that some foods high in Omega 3, when processed, went rancid due to a process of oxidation of the Omega 3 fats. Rather than work out a way to stop the process of oxidation they simply removed the Omega threes from the foods not understanding at that time the importance of those healthy fats. So many of our foods declined in their normal Omega 3 content.

As you can see the Omega3 Omega6 ratio changed dramatically in the last 100 years so that we are now eating a diet much higher in Omega6 fatty acids. Accordingly the average American adult is not deficient in Omega six and should not be seeking to eat more foods high in Omega 6. In fact most American adults eat from 10 to 20 times more Omega 6 fatty acids than Omega threes.

The Omega 3 Omega 6 ratio has changed to the point where there is now recommendations that adults should reduce their intake of foods high in Omega 6 and increase their intake of foods high in Omega 3.

So what do you do? Where possible substitute corn and soy fed beef for grass fed beef. Often this is not possible. In this case it is worth reducing the intake of meat. The same applies to chicken and eggs. Where possible source organic or free range chickens and eggs that have been fed a diet that is high in more natural leafy foods such as grass and salad greens and a diet lower in grains.

And to redress the imbalance of intake of Omega 3 fatty acids like DHA and EPA you should be taking fish oil supplements daily, or eating more oily fish.

It always helps to eat a diet higher in oily fish and where possible grain fed beef should be reduced and fish intake increased to replace the beef. However the FDA advises us not to eat a lot of fish because fish is generally contaminated with toxins found in the ocean and ought not to be eaten in excessive quantities for this reason.

Accordingly the best way to have a good daily intake of Omega 3 fatty acids is to take fish oil supplements. The best fish oil supplements are totally free of toxins, however not all fish oil supplements are the same.

If you’re interested in finding more details about choosing the best Omega three supplements to read our article about how to compare fish oil supplements.

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