I found some interesting research on the Omega 3 and Omega 6 ratio. Today we’ll focus on docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), alpha linolenic acid (ALA), and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and the Omega 6s.
It’s really interesting because Omega 3s and Omega 6s have almost the opposite effect on our health, even though we need both. So it’s important to know the correct ratio of them in your diet to help with inflammation, a big cause of brain diseases, obesity, and diabetes.
We’ll talk a bit about the Omega’s in general and what they are, more on the specifics of Omega 3s and 6s, and then talk about the proper ratio of Omega 3s to 6s for the best health benefits.
A Bit of Background on The Omegas
The important fats are Omega 3s, 6s and 9s. Omega 3 and 6 are polyunsaturated fats. The difference is that Omega 3s have 3 carbon atoms at the tail end of their molecular chain and Omega 6s have 6 carbon atoms at the end of their molecular chain.
There is a big difference between the two in how they function in the body however. Omega 3s and 6s are considered ‘essential’ because our body doesn’t make them, at least not in enough quantities that are beneficial. So they are often called essential fatty acids (EFAs).
Then there are the Omega 9s. They are nonessential monounsaturated fats. They are really good for you! But our body does make some so they are considered nonessential. Sources included in Omega 9s are avocado oil, almonds, olive oil and more. It’s still a good idea to add some to your diet because they are so good for you, according to Robertson (2017).
Omega 3 Fatty Acids, Your Brain’s Ally
DHA, EPA and ALA. They are of particular benefit to your heart and brain. And remember, if it’s good for your heart, it’s good for your brain. These are primarily found in fatty fish like salmon but can also be found in algae Omega 3 supplements, a vegan form. Other sources are flaxseeds and chia seeds. Read the below article for more on Omega 3’s for the brain.
Related Article: DHA for the Brain – Best Omega 3 for Your Brain
Enough can’t be said about Omega 3 EFA’s. They reduce inflammation, promote brain development, prevent dementia, help weight control, reduce fat in the liver, support mood and mental health, promote heart health and bone health. No matter what your diet, you’ll want to include either fatty fish (salmon, tuna) a couple of times a week in your diet or add a supplement.
Omega 6 Fatty Acids, Energy Source
Omega 6 fatty acids are a good source of energy. The problem is that over the last 100 years, we’ve increased our consumption of Omega 6s. They are found in corn oil, sunflower, safflower, cottonseed, and soy bean oils. As we ate more processed foods with these in them, the more we gained weight (Simonopoulos and DiNicolantonio, (2015), and our epidemic of dementia and Alzheimer’s increased (although I haven’t seen a direct reference to this, inflammation is a cause of dementia and Alzheimer’s).
While they are a good source of energy, they also promote weight gain and inflammation. Almost the complete opposite of Omega 3s.
Don’t completely remove Omega 6 fatty acids from your diet. They are important. We have just eaten too much of them. So let’s talk about the proper ratio of Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids.
The Best Omega 3 and Omega 6 Ratio
Simonopoulos and DiNicolantonio (2015) have been studying the ratio of Omega 3s and 6s for at least 20 years. I found a 1991 article by Simonopoulos. He hasn’t changed his stance. According to him, our evolutionary diet had the better ratio for health. The best ratio of Omega 3 to Omega 6 should be 2:1.
But researchers have found that our diet in the last 100 years has been closer to a ratio of 1:10! That’s a huge disparity for health benefits. So you can be getting some Omega 3s, but if your diet is on the higher end in Omega 6 fats, you get little benefit from the Omega 3s.
One of the keys to benefiting from Omega 3 fatty acids is to reduce your corn, safflower, sunflower, soy bean, and cottonseed oils.
A way to replace some of these Omega 6s with a more healthful option is to use olive or avocado oils (Omega 9s) instead of the above oils for frying, salads, or baking. Another option is to use MCT (medium chain triglycerides) like coconut oil. This is brain food and shown to help with inflammation and helps with weight control.
Related Article: Brain Octane Oil Review
We’ve heard so much about adding Omega 3 fatty acids to our diet for our heart health. But they are also great for reducing inflammation, mood and mental health, brain health and bone health. Omega 6 vegetable oils are good too, we have just had too much in our diets for the last 100 years or so. The key for getting the most benefits of both of these is to reduce the vegetable oils we’ve come to rely on and increase our Omega 3s and even Omega 9s, as an alternative.
I hope this helped clarify the essential fatty acids and how important the Omega 3s are for your health. Also a confirmation that, yes, olive oil is a Great option to other vegetable oils. Olive oil and coconut oils are absolutely great alternatives to help get you back to a healthy Omega 6 and 3 ratio so you can get the best benefits from Omega 3s.
Now you know how important Omega 3s are to your health. I’m including some links to some Omega 3s I really like to make it easier for you, including a Vegan form.
Thank you for reading about the Omega 3 and Omega 6 ratio. This isn’t talked about a lot but it’s super important to know about. If you have any questions or comments about this article, please leave them in the Comments section below. Thank you!
Robertson, R. (2017). Healthline. Omega 3-6-9: A Complete Overview. Retrieved February 19, 2020 from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/omega-3-6-9-overview
Simonopoulos, A. and DiNicolantonio, J. (2015). Openheart: BMJ Journals. The importance of a balanced ω-6 to ω-3 ratio in the prevention and management of obesity. Retrieved February 19, 2020 from https://openheart.bmj.com/content/3/2/e000385.full