Omega 6 vs Omega 3…which one do you need more of? Both are essential fatty acids that are important to our health but that we cannot produce on our own. These fatty acids both have to be obtained from our diet and the foods that we eat.
Both are also important to our health and in years gone by, before the days of such heavy reliance on processed foods, it is thought that we consumed roughly equal amounts of these two types of fatty acids, which is the ideal scenario. However, these days there is a massive imbalance in the levels of Omega 6 and Omega 3 fatty acids that we consume, with most people getting too much of the Omega 6 and far too little of the Omega 3.
Omega 6 vs Omega 3 – The Problem With Our Modern Diets
This is partly down to our modern diets. With today’s fast pace of life many of us have switched from fresh foods to tins, packets, fast food – anything that saves us time. Many of these processed foods contain Omega 6, which means that many people are consuming high levels of Omega 6 on a daily basis. Omega 3, on the other hand, is not nearly as easy to access as part of your diet, with only a few sources of Omega 3 fatty acids including flaxseeds, walnuts and cold water fatty fish.
The Health Implications of A High Omega 6 Diet
These two different essential fatty acids have a different chemical make up and also have different effects on the body. In a nutshell, Omega 6 fatty acids are actually pro-inflammatory, whereas Omega 3 acids are anti-inflammatory. It is thought that the increased intake of Omega 6 fatty acids compared to the low level of Omega 3 intake could be a contributory factor in the high level of diseases such as coronary heart disease, asthma, neurodegenerative diseases, and cancer.
It is important to get some Omega 6 in the diet as it can benefit our health in a range of ways, although most of us continue to get too much of it. However, it is also important for most of us to get more Omega 3 in our diets, which is more difficult to come by in our day to day diets.
How Can We Increase Our Omega 3 Intake?
In addition to adjusting our diets to try and regulate the levels of Omega 6 fatty acids that we are consumingin our diets and increase our Omega 3 intake, it is also possible to boost Omega 3 intake through taking appropriate supplements.
The most important omega 3s for your overall health are EPA and DHA, and those are only found in cold water fish such as cod, salmon and sardines. If you’re not a big fish eater, your best bet is to supplement with a high quality fish oil.
So the next time someone asks you about Omega 6 vs Omega 3, now you’ll know the real answer!