The importance of the balance between omega-3 and omega-6 in our diet
February 04, 2020
Linoleic acid (omega-6) and alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3) are polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are known as "essential fatty acids" (EFAs) because our body does not produce them, so we must incorporate them daily through our diet.
A balanced lipid intake should follow the omega-6: omega-3 ratio of 4: 1. That is, for every 4 grams we consume of omega-6, we should consume 1 gram of omega-3. However, the modern diet that we currently have, rich in vegetable oil sources of omega-6, produces an imbalance close to 40: 1.
When fatty acids are in balance and are metabolized correctly, they give rise to very valuable biochemical components such as prostaglandins, especially PG1 and PG3. These decrease platelet aggregation, prevent the formation of thrombi, lower blood pressure, and reduce fat circulating (cholesterol and triglycerides). They also dilate blood vessels, help the renal cleansing work, prevent inflammation, and improve the nervous and immune systems.
However, some elements hinder the metabolism of these fats and prevent the generation of prostaglandin PG1 and PG3, such as tobacco, alcohol, excess sugar, aspirin, anti-inflammatories, and the deficit of vitamins and minerals. Therefore, to receive the benefits of essential fatty acids, we must eliminate these substances or, at least, reduce them to the maximum.
If in our lipid in-take we alter the 4: 1 ratio in omega-6 and omega-3, we will have an increased risk of heart attacks, osteoporosis, obesity, and cancer, among other diseases. Therefore, it is essential to reduce our intake of vegetable oil rich in omega-6, such as soybeans, corn, and increase the intake of omega-3 through the consumption of flax seeds and chia oil. To achieve the correct balance that our body requires.
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