We’ve all heard that Omega-3 Fatty Acids are super good for us, but what is Omega-6 you ask? Omega-6 is a fatty acid that us Americans have an overwhelming abundance of, and not in a good way. The ideal ratio for your Omega-6 : Omega-3 intake is 1:1, however researchers estimate that today our Omega intake is more like 20:1. This is not good because Omega-6 fatty acids have an inflammatory effect on our bodies and chronic inflammation plays a BIG, nasty, role in autoimmune diseases.
The process of balancing out your Omega’s can take time… so be patient. Here’s what you can do to start balancing your omega’s.
How to Lower Your Omega-6
1. Stay away from vegetable oils.
The number one, most saturated Omega-6 food out there is vegetable oil. By simply switching to coconut oil, olive oil, tallow, lard, or ghee, you are drastically cutting down your Omega-6 intake. This also includes sunflower oil, canola oil, grapeseed oil, soybean oil, and safflower oil.
2. Avoid processed foods.
Aside from the fact that processed food contains little to no nutritional value, it contains lots of vegetable oils.
3. Make your own condiments.
Mayonnaise and salad dressings are the biggest condiment offenders and yet so easy to make from home! Check out my recipe for homemade mayo HERE. I also have a really good ranch recipe HERE. If you’re looking to buy a healthy dressing, I have only found one brand of salad dressing that contains ZERO vegetable oils, Primal Kitchen. This brand also makes a really good, vegetable oil free, mayo.
4. Watch your nuts & seed consumption.
Nuts and seeds are loaded with nutrients! They are so densely packed that you don’t need to eat a whole lot to reap in the benefits. However, they do contain high amounts of Omega-6 . Which remember, Omega-6 from a quality source is not bad and we are looking for that 1:1 ratio. What’s bad is when the omega-6 come from a bad source (like vegetable oil and processed foods) and the amount of omega-6 far out balance your omega-3.
5. Buy grass-fed meats whenever possible.
Conventionally raised beef contains an omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of 17:1; Lamb 5:2; and Pork & Chicken 10:1. These ratios drastically change when the animals are pasture raised. Beef for example drops to 3:1 when cows are grass-fed.
How to Raise Your Omega-3
There are three kinds of Omega-3:
- ALA (plant source)
The Omega-3 in ALA are from plant sources such as flax seed, dark leafy greens, and walnuts. ALA must be converted to EPA/DHA in the body to be useable. Unfortunately, us humans are inefficient converters of ALA, thus the amount of usable Omega-3’s after the conversion is so insignificant that you really aren’t benefitting from it. One study found that women convert about 21% of ALA to EPA and only 9% ALA to DHA.
The conversion percent for men is even lower!
1. The best way to get Omega-3 is from an animal source.
Here are some animal sourced foods to boost your Omega-3
- Fish Oil (I take, and highly recommend, this brand of Fermented Cod Liver Oil)
- Seafood (Eat 1-2 times per week. Fatty fish, like wild caught salmon, is best)
- Pastured Eggs (not to be confused with cage-free) *
- Butter & Ghee (from Grass Fed Cows)*
*It is important to make sure your animal sources are grass-fed. Numerous studies have proven that animals fed grass-fed diets contain significantly higher levels of Omega-3 in their meat (or eggs). The Omega-3 in eggs are found in the yolks, so don’t go eating a plate of scrambled egg whites thinking you’re doing the body good.
 Burdge, G.C. and S.A. Wootton. 2002. Conversion of α-linolenic Acid to Eicosapentaenoic, Docosapentaenoic and Docosahexaenoic Acids in Young Women. British Journal of Nutrition (2002), 88:411-420.
Burdge, G.C., A.E. Jones, S.A. Wootton, 2002. Eicosapentaenoic and Docosapentaenoic Acids Are the Principal Products α-linolenic Acid Metabolism in Young Men. British Journal of Nutrition (2002); 88:355-363.