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Omega 3, 6, 9 How to achieve the correct ratio

Updated on October 14, 2012

There has been much written about the benefits of Omega essential fatty acids and there are plenty of supplements out there but what are they and what is the correct balance?

These essential fatty acids are required by the body for various functions but cannot be made by the body so our diet needs to provide them. However, the modern western diet provides far too much Omega 6 which is actually inflammatory and can cause heart attacks, strokes and cancers instead of preventing them. In the USA it is estimated that the diet can contain as much as 20 times the recommended amount of Omega 6.

Omega 3 is found in flax seed and fish oils. Flax seed contains ALA (alpha linoleic acid) which lowers cholesterol and prevents heart disease and strokes. Fish oils contain EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). EPA protects from heart attacks, strokes, diabetes and cancer. DHA protects the brain and nervous system function, it helps children's brains grow and immune systems develop. In adults it helps with antisocial behaviour, ADD and Alzheimers.

Omega 6 is found in vegetable oils such as canola, grapeseed, corn, maize and sunflower. We consume TOO many of these in our diet and although we think we are being healthy, too much Omega 6 is highly inflammatory resulting in heart attacks, strokes, arthritis and cancer, the very things we are trying to avoid!

Omega 9 is found in macadamia, almond, pistachio nuts and oils, avocados and olives (olive oil must be cold pressed and not heated to cook with). These contain Oleic acid which protects the cardiovascular system, reducing the chance of heart attacks and strokes.

In order to provide the right balance it is important to reduce Omega 6 and increase Omega 3 and 9. One way to do this is to make sure your meat is from grass fed and not grain fed herds (try local, organic meat).

Here are 4 more ways to improve the balance:

1. Eat more fish such as sardines, mackerel, salmon (not farmed which is grain fed).

2. Take EPA/DHA supplements

3. Don't heat olive oil, use nut oils to cook.

4. Reduce your Omega 6 intake by restricting canola, grapeseed, corn etc oils.

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