Most people are eating 10 to 15 times more Omega-6 fats these days. On the flip side, the healthy Omega-3 fats consumption is at an all time low. Having an unbalanced ratio of these polyunsaturated fatty acids leads to excessive inflammation in the body and increased risk for heart disease, diabetes, cancer and autoimmune diseases.
Keep in mind Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids don’t have the same effect on the body. Omega-6’s are pro-inflammatory increasing inflammation and Omega-3’s are anti-inflammatory decreasing inflammation!
The body doesn’t have enzymes to produce fatty acids so we must get them from our diet or vitamin supplements.
I was surprised to learn that the fatty acids in one of my favorite snack foods almond butter is unbalanced.
One tablespoon of almond butter equals:
- 67.7 mg or .07 grams omega-3 fatty acids
- 1901 mg or 1.9 grams omega-6 fatty acids.
Here’s my go to website to look up food nutrition data > Self Nutrition Data, Know What You Eat
Calculate the fatty acids in your food from the nutrition data using this site: Convert from MG to G
Omega-6 Foods to Minimize or Completely Avoid
- Nuts & Seeds – sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, peanuts, pine nuts, almonds, pecan, walnuts, pumpkin seeds
- Dairy – whole milk, cream cheese, processed cheese and cheddar cheese
- Meat – beef, lamb, luncheon meats
- Poultry – chicken wings and thighs with skin, turkey bacon, ground turkey and turkey meat with skin
- Pork – ham, sausage, bacon, ground pork, spareribs, pork loin and pork chops
- Trans Fats – blueberry muffins, chocolate cake, danish pastry, brownies, graham crackers
- Fast Foods – onion rings, chicken fingers, hash browns, french fries, popcorn chicken
- Snacks – potato chips, popcorn, barbeque chips, corn chips, cheese puffs, tortilla chips
- Oils – grape seed oil, safflower oil, canola oil, corn oil, vegetable oil, margarine
- Salad Dressings & Mayonnaise – French, Caesar, honey mustard, thousand island, Italian salad dressings
The concern is the ratio of omega-6 fatty acids to omega-3 fatty acids more than the amount of omega-6 fats being consumed in the diet.
Recommended daily intake of essential fatty acids on average for adults:
- Omega-3 fatty acids – 1.5 grams/day
- Omega-6 fatty acids – 14 grams/day
Are your fatty acids staying balanced?
Ask your doctor for a blood test to measure your red blood cells. If the ratio Omega-6 (total) / Omega-3 (total) is higher than 10, your body is in a state of inflammation. Ideally your ratio should be below 3 to reduce the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases.
The Mediterranean diet has a healthy balance of both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids focusing on fish, vegetables, olive oil, garlic and red wine.
Learn more from Dr. Andrew Weil on Balancing Omega-3 and Omega-6
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