Our ancestor’s diets were rich in omega-3 (good fats) – found in fatty fish, chia seeds, walnuts, fish eggs, soybeans, and spinach. But the Industrial Revolution (about 140 years ago) brought about significant changes to our diet, including the introduction of omega-6 oils like safflower oil, sunflower oil, corn oil and sesame oil.
Why is it a problem?
When added to food, omega-6 oils add flavour and longevity, which is why they are high in packaged and convenience foods. (Think about how long packaged foods last compared to homemade ones.)
However, when fragile omega-6 oils are heated, processed or hydrogenated, their structure can change and create free radicals and trans fats, which can have catastrophic effects on our bodies. In fact, higher intake of some omega-6 oils is thought to lead to increased inflammation and may contribute to conditions like heart disease, depression and Alzheimer's, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, and ulcerative colitis. Watch out for oils like canola, corn, soy, sunflower and safflower.
It’s important to note that not all oils in the omega-6 family are harmful - it really depends on how they’ve been treated. For instance, some oils – like high-quality extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, avocados, and organic butter – are beneficial when consumed raw.
An omega-6 oil known as Gamma-Linolenic Acid (GLA) is also essential to good health. This is because the body converts GLA into an anti-inflammatory substance called prostaglandins, which controls virtually every organ in the body. It’s particularly beneficial to the heart, circulation, skin, immunity, and inflammation levels. (1)
Evening primrose oil, used to help manage PMS symptoms, eczema and dermatitis, is a great source of GLA. The University of Mississippi Medical Centre (UMMC) recommends 3-4gms of evening primrose oil daily for breast pain and arthritis, and 4-8gms daily for eczema and dermatitis. Other good sources of GLA include blackcurrant oil and borage oil.
How to reduce your intake of non-beneficial omega-6s
Minimise your use of cooking oils, salad dressings or snack foods that contain safflower oil, sunflower oil, corn oil or soy oil. These oils are high in linoleic acid (an omega-6 fat). Some fragile oils change when heated, so opt for oils that can be heated safely like macadamia, rice and coconut oil.
Get the balance right
Too much omega 6 can cause an imbalance with omega 3 oils, which can spark various health conditions – so, get the balance right!
You can help balance your omega 3/6 ratio by consuming more foods that are high in omega-3, such as flaxseeds, walnuts, and oily fish like sardines and salmon. Most experts say a that a diet with a 4:1 ratio can reap great health benefits and, these days, is far more realistic than a 1:1 ratio.(2)
PAT is a non-invasive holistic therapy, which:
This blog is intended as general information only. PAT cannot diagnose or cure allergies – it is intended to decrease reactions and help manage symptoms. It is not intended to raise unrealistic expectations. If symptoms persist, consult your GP.
Photo credit - https://www.eatrightontario.ca/en/Articles/Fat/What%E2%80%99s-the-difference-between-omega-3-and-omega-6