What You Need to Know About the Omega 3 to Omega 6 Ratio
We talk a lot about Omega 3’s and Omega 6’s and ratios, but do you really know what they mean for you and your health? The first article in our What You Need to Know series covered the conversion of ALA into EPA and DHA click HERE to read
Omega 3 essential fatty acids and Omega 6 essential fatty acids are important nutrients, and both play an important part in how your body functions. Omegas 3’s are anti-inflammatory and Omega 6’s are pro-inflammatory. Inflammation sounds bad, but it’s also an essential function in your body. When you stub your toe, for example, inflammation is the signal to your body that there is a problem that your body needs to focus on healing.
Omega 6’s can get a bad rap, but that is only due to the extremely skewed ratio of Omega 3 to Omega 6 that exists in the typical North American diet. A correct ratio of Omega 3 to Omega 6 is 1:1, but someone eating a typical western diet may have a ratio of 1:10. This can lead to an excess of inflammation in the body, an increase in inflammatory diseases, and depression, as well as a decrease in immune function.
Fish is a great source of the short chain omega 3 fatty acids like EPA and DHA that are essential for your health. However, fish can be expensive and consuming too much can mean an increase in mercury levels and other pollutants in your body. It simply may not be safe to consume enough to maintain a correct ratio especially if you eat foods high in omega 6’s regularly (most processed foods are high in omega 6 due to corn or sunflower oil).
This leads people to seek out dietary supplements like fish oil or krill oil, but they often have the same drawbacks as fish, as they can both be expensive and have a higher mercury level then is ideal. There are vegan alternatives using algae as well but they also come at a high cost and as they’re marine based they don’t completely negate the drawbacks regarding pollution from the ocean.
Credit to Global Health Watch
Plant-based options high in Omega 3’s like flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts and even leafy greens are a great compliment, and alternative to fish. They’ll increase your Omega 3 intake while replacing some of your Omega 6 intake. Your body is capable of converting the long chain fatty acids (ALA) found in plant sources into the EPA and DHA your body needs and there is no need to worry about pollution or contamination from a plant-based source.
Flaxseeds contain the most ALA of any plant-based source. For example, just one tablespoon of Alligga Flaxseed Oil contains 8 grams of Omega 3’s, and its applications as a cooking oil make it a great alternative to traditional cooking oils like canola, and sunflower that are high in Omega 6. Ground flaxseeds are also a great source of ALA and as a further benefit provide a substantial dose of fiber into your diet!
Here’s a supercharged, inflammation busting smoothie (with the powers of flax, ginger, and turmeric!)
- 2 handfuls of dark leafy greens like Kale or Collard Greens
- 1-2 teaspoons of Turmeric
- A thumb of peeled ginger (grate the ginger if you don’t have a high-speed blender)
- Handful of blueberries
- 1 tablespoon of ground flax
- 1 teaspoon of Alligga Orange Flavoured Flaxseed Oil