The Skinny On Essential Fats – What You Need To Know About Omega 3 and 6Posted by FJ Leto on August 25, 2021
Fats, both good and bad, are often in the headlines these days, and as usual, with this eruption of press comes an overload of conflicting and confusing information about what to put in our bodies.
From a broad perspective, there are three types of fats: unsaturated fat found mainly in plants, saturated fat found mainly in animals and trans fat found solely in processed foods since they do not occur organically in nature.
Of these three types of fat there are a variety of subcategories, but probably the most popular almost magical subcategory we hear about today are the Omega Fats, also known as Essential Fatty Acids, which are part of the unsaturated fat family.
What Is An Essential Fat?
Omega fats are called essential because we need them to keep our bodies functioning properly and thriving, yet we are not able to produce them internally and therefore need to absorb them from the food that we eat.
Essential fatty acids aid in the prevention of cardiovascular disease by lowering cholesterol, and are vital for brain and nerve function, cell health and the regulation of systemic inflammation.
However, if we eat too little of one omega or too much of another it throws our body out of balance, causing all types of problems.
The ideal ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 is 1:1 – 4:1, but the average Westerner is at 20:1 – 50:1.
This imbalance is the root cause of so many health issues now affecting over 50% of Americans at one point or another in their lifetime.
The good news is, it’s very simple to get your body back to homeostasis with a little knowledge of the Omega family.
Most Americans get more than enough omega- 6 as it is found in baked goods, cooking oils, grains and poultry.
This is mainly due in part to the high concentration of omega-6 in vegetable oils, some of which are eaten directly, like oils on salads or on stir fries, but mostly they are consumed as main ingredients in almost every processed food.
Since most Westerners consumed processed foods on a daily basis – processed food meaning almost anything in a box, bag , can or wrapper – they intake much more omega-6 than omega-3 causing the imbalance.
Don’t get me wrong, we definitely need omega-6, as it is critical for the health of the body. Omega-6 helps the body combat infection, regulates systemic inflammation, promotes blood clotting, and cellular communication.
However, too much omega-6 can cause those bodily functions to go on overdrive, creating chronic inflammation, “sticky blood”, and communication breakdown between our cells, all of which can lead to serious conditions like heart disease, heart attacks and strokes as well as dry eyes, macular degeneration and arthritis.
Sources of omega-6 that are best to avoid are certain foods with vegetable oils such as soy, canola, safflower, sunflower and corn. As well as meat and poultry skin.
Omega-3 is the primary component of your brain cells, retina and other cells of the body. In addition, it also regulates the systemic inflammation to keep the body in balance in conjunction with omega-6.
A proper balance of omega-3 is associated with the reduction in the risk of just about every chronic degenerative disease out there today.
Omega-3 is found in flax, chia and hemp seeds, as well as other nuts like walnuts, olive oil and avocados to name a few.
Many people associate omega-3 with cold water fatty fish like salmon, sardines and anchovies, however those fish do not make omegas, they need to consume their omegas just like us.
The root source of animal based omega-3 is algae (aka seaweed).
The algae that small fish eat is where the omega-3 in their body originates, which is then transferred to larger fish as they are eaten, and eventually to us if we eat those fish.
Sources of omega-3 that are best to avoid are certain are over the counter fish or krill oil supplements, as they can contain many of environmental toxins and quickly become rancid inside the bottle. Also be cautious of any non-wild-caught fish, as they are usually fed corn or chicken containing no omega-3 and therefore are low in omega-3 since they need to consume it just like us.
Are You In Omega Balance?
Take a look at your skin. While this isn’t a tell all, it can be a good indicator.
Skin that is dry, flaky, inflamed (red), or prone to whiteheads may be indicative that may have an omega imbalance.
Internally, if you have achy joints, dry eyes or high cholesterol, you may want to experiment with a more balanced diet of omegas. As with anything, if you’re concerned, please contact your health professional for further testing.
Should I Just Take A Omega-3 Supplement To Fix The Imbalance?
Many people take fish oil supplements, but the truth of the matter is, it is a sub par way to address the omega imbalance in the body for several reasons:
- The main reason is it does not solve the problem! Supplements bump up the omega-3 to 6 ratio by introducing a high dosage of omega-3 to an omega-6 saturated environment. This is a bandaid on an internal wound. Eating less omega-6 is the solution.
- Most fish oil is full of harmful toxins found in the fish and the ocean in general.
- Fish oil goes rancid, meaning it oxidizes after touching the air and goes bad, after being encapsulated which is why you may experience those lovely “fish burps” after popping the pill.
- Producing fish oil is unsustainable. No matter what the bottle says, millions of fish are literally squished to fill those pills, and many of the species have been reduced to less than 10% of their natural population numbers and will soon be extinct.
- Fish oil is unnecessary if you eat a whole foods diet and/or take an algae supplement high in EPA and DHA omega-3.
Eating less processed food and vegetable oil as well as increasing foods such as, seaweed, flax, avocado, or walnuts, is the best way to restore omega balance in the body.
If you think you need a supplement, be sure to look for a company selling algae oil high in EPA and DHA omega-3. This algae is what the fish eat to get the omega-3 into their body, so we can go right to the source!
Don’t think you will like an omega balanced diet? Here is one of our favorite sweet treats that is rich in omega-3’s and sure to satisfy your sweet tooth!