Last semester in my macronutrient metabolism class, I learned the importance of and difference between omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. These are essential fatty acids, which means that our bodies cannot produce them on their own and it is crucial we consume them in our diets. Essential fatty acids are important for cellular membrane structure and function, vision, function of the nervous system, regulation of inflammation and immune function.
Omega-6 fatty acid (Linoleic acid) is a precursor to arachidonic acid which can be further metabolized into pro-inflammatory regulators.
- Found in poultry, eggs, nuts, avocado, cereal and wheat, corn oil, seeds, soybeans, and some vegetables
Omega-3 fatty acid (Alpha-linolenic acid) is a precursor to EPA and DHA which can be metabolized into anti-inflammatory regulators.
- Found in walnuts, flaxseed and flaxseed oil, and fatty fish
So, why am I telling you this? The typical American diet favors omega-6 fatty acids rather than omega-3’s at a ratio of 10 to 1. This means that our bodies are favoring the pro-inflammatory response. It is advised that we try to decrease our omega 6 levels and increase our omega 3 levels in order to favor the anti-inflammatory response, which is beneficial to heart health and it is good for your joints. Research showed that there was a lower risk for sudden cardiac death when there are higher levels of omega 3s in the blood (due to its anti-inflammatory role).
- eat a few walnuts every day (great on oatmeal or salads)
- incorporate flaxseed into the diet (smoothies, in peanut butter, on toast)
- take fish oil supplements
I definitely don’t recommend cutting out omega-6’s completely, because that would be difficult and unnecessary. I do recommend swapping out some foods in an attempt to receive the benefits that omega-3’s have to offer. I wanted to share this information with you because I find it to be important information!
“If you don’t take care of your body, where are you going to live?” – Unknown