Οmega-3 vs omega-6 fatty acids. Which is good for you?

Οmega-3s vs omega-6s

Both omega-3s and omega-6s are necessary for good health. We should consume equal amounts of each. On the contrary, the modern Western diets provide huge amounts of omega-6s, causing chronic inflammation and disease.

What are omega-s3 and omega-6s?

Both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). They both are necessary for good health. Omega-3s and omega-6s are considered essential fatty acids, as they must be obtained from food. The human body can’t synthesize them.

Omega-3s and omega-6s provide energy to the body and are vital for the good function of cardiovascular, pulmonary, immune, and endocrine system.[1]

Furthermore, omega-3s are necessary for good vision and fertility. For instance, DHA which is a type of omega-3 is pretty high in the retina, brain, and sperm. Most noteworthy, omega-3s may reduce the risk of certain types of cancer!

Are omega-6s bad for you?

Omega-6s are necessary for good health. Too much is a problem, though. Both omega-3s and omega-6s compete for the same enzymes in the body. When we consume more omega-6s than omega-3s, inflammation may occur!

Balance is the key. We should consume the same amounts of omega-6s and omega-3s. Unfortunately, modern Western diets are pretty high in omega-6s. Due to the high consumption of vegetable oils.

For instance, processed foods contain high amounts of low-quality vegetable oils. Vegetable oils, along with salt and sugar make foods taste great. Moreover, they’re pretty cheap!

On the other hand, modern Western diets are deficient in omega-3s. People rarely consume foods that contain omega-3s. Actually, most processed foods don’t contain any omega-3s.

The importance of omega-6s to omega-3s ratio

You need to remember that both omega-3s & 6s are vital for good health. Above all, we’ll benefit the most if we consume the same amounts of omega-3s, along with omega-6s!

The ratio of omega-6s to omega-3s should be 1. According to studies, people evolved consuming the same amounts of omega-6s and omega-3s.[2]

Nowadays, modern Western diets may provide even 17 times more omega-6s than omega-3s! Excessive amounts of omega-6s seem to cause inflammation and chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, autoimmune diseases, and even cancer!

So, reducing the consumption of omega-6s and increasing the intake of omega-3s is good for you. For instance, according to studies, an omega-6s to omega-3s ratio of:

  • 4/1 has been linked to 70% decreased in total mortality,
  • 3/1 suppressed inflammation in people with rheumatoid arthritis,
  • 5/1 helped people with asthma.

Moreover, a low ratio seems to reduce the risk of breast cancer!

Therefore, you better avoid vegetable oils high in omega-6s. You’ll get more than enough omega-6s from other foods. Secondly, you should consume regularly foods high in omega-3s.

Which foods high in omega-6s should you avoid?

Above all, you should avoid consuming vegetable oils which are particularly high in omega-6s. For instance, grape seed oil, sunflower oil, corn oil, and cottonseed oil contain extreme amounts of omega-6s. Unfortunately, they’re pretty cheap oils, so they’re in almost every processed food.

omega-6s
(g/100g)
omega-3s
(g/100g)
grape seed oil69,60
sunflower oil65,70
corn oil53,51,2
cottonseed oil51,50
almond oil17,40
Safflower oil12,70
avocado oil12,50
olive oil9,80,8
palm oil9,10
Vegetables oils are high in omega-6s.

What’s the recommended daily dosage for omega-3s & 6s?

We consume enough omega-6s from food. Most nuts, seeds, grains, vegetable oils, along with egg and poultry contain omega-6s. It’s highly unlikely for healthy people to ever need omega-6 supplementation.

But, how much omega-3s do we need per day? The recommended daily intake of omega-6s is 1.6g for men and 1.1g for women.

You can get this dosage of omega-3s from food. For instance, just 1 tbsp of whole flaxseeds contains 2.3g of omega-3s! Flaxseeds are the best plant-based source of omega-3s.

Although, there isn’t an official upper daily dosage for omega-3s, the FDA recommends not exceeding 5g of omega-3s per day.[1]

Foods rich in omega-3s

Foods particularly high in omega-3s are flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts, hemp seeds, and canola oil. See the whole list here.