Internationally-renowned registered dietitian, Ashley Koff, has answered some questions on Omega-3 and Omega 6.
What are Omega-3 and Omega-6?
Ashley Koff: Omega-3 and Omega-6s are essential fatty acids (EFAs). Both are essential to the structure and function of our cells, and regulate critical aspects of brain function, metabolism, and immune-system health. We cannot make omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in our bodies, so we have to get them from foods or supplements.
We need omega-3s in our diet to help prevent chronic inappropriate inflammation. Insufficient omega-3s are associated with a lengthy list of health problems including heart attacks and stroke. Unfortunately, most Americans get a high percentage of pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids in their diets but not enough omega-3s. In fact, the average American diet now provides 20 or more parts omega-6s to one part omega-3s. That’s about seven times higher than the three-to-one intake ratio shown to deter major diseases and promote optimal health. We need to bring that back into a healthful balance.
There’s an easy, at-home way to check your own levels with a Vital Omega-3 and -6 HUFA Test kit. It’s available through VitalChoice.com, and is discounted to participants of the 100 Days to Better Heart Health Program. It’s a great way to know your omega balance starting point, as you challenge yourself to improve your ratio.
What are some common food sources of omega-6 that should be limited?
Ashley Koff: Omega-6 fats are found in the vegetable oils, such as corn and soy, that started replacing butter and lard in the 1960s. They are also found in most margarines, and in most baked goods as well as in fast-food meals and other restaurant dishes.
What are some top food choices you recommend to boost daily omega-3 intake?
Ashley Koff: There are two primary types of omega-3. The only type your body needs is long-chain (EPA and DHA) which is found in seafood. You can get short chain omega-3s (ALA) from plant sources such as flax, but the body can only convert less than 10 percent of dietary ALA into EPA, and less than one-half of one percent into DHA. That’s why it is best to try for two servings a week of fatty fish, such as wild salmon, sardines and tuna.
Do you recommend omega-3 supplements? Continue reading ‘Are you balancing omega-3 and omega-6?’ »