Why are omega-3 fatty acids essential in your diet compared to omega-6s?
Omega-6 fatty acids are associated with pro-inflammatory effects, while Omega-3 fatty acids are associated with anti-inflammatory effects. Why does this matter to you? An increase in omega-6s is correlated with diabetes, atherosclerosis, and obesity, inflammatory bowel disease, arthritic joints, and rheumatoid arthritis. The build up of plaque in the arteries, known as atherosclerosis, is caused by low-grade chronic inflammation. When you provide omega-3 fatty acids to your diet, your body turns off the inflammatory-building enzymes.
Omega-6s are commonly found in plant oils, such as sunflower, corn oils, cereals, animal fat, and whole-grain bread.
Omega-3s are commonly found in green leafy vegetables, flaxseed, chia seeds, fish, and nuts (walnuts in particular).
The optimal ratio of omega-6:omega-3s for humans is 4:1. This is the ratio that our body has evolved for thousands of years to operate most efficiently. However, in typical western society, our intake is closer to 16:1. Another study showed that the same acid found in omega-6s (linoleic acid) is found in excessive concentrations in arthritic joints. In our liver, there is a competition over which fatty acids your body will absorb. When you supplement your diet with omega-3 fatty acids, you are increasing the chances that your body will absorb the omega-3s rather than the omega-6s.
So that means that you should avoid omega-6s at all costs? It would be nearly impossible to omit omega-6s from our diet, however a balance can be achieved by consciously substituting foods heavy in omega-6s with those that are rich in omega-3s.
I’ve attached the two cited articles below as well as a bonus third one.
Thank you for reading!