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While both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are important to health, the balance of these two types of EFAs in our diet is extremely important. Most experts believe the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids in a healthy diet should be 4-to-1 or lower.
Unfortunately, the typical American diet, characterized by significant amounts of meat and processed foods, tends to contain 10 to 30 times more omega-6 than omega-3 fatty acids. This imbalance of omega-6 (“bad”) fatty acids to omega-3 (“good”) fatty acids appears to be a contributing cause of a number of serious health problems, including heart disease, cancer, asthma, arthritis and depression.
One of the BEST STEPS YOU CAN TAKE to improve your diet is to eat more foods that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and fewer that are high in omega-6 fatty acids.
Although your body needs both in order to function and thrive, most people take in much more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3s.
The typical Western diet is estimated to contain as much as 20 times more omega-6s than omega-3s due to high amounts of refined vegetable oils and processed foods. Source: An Increase in the Omega-6/Omega-3 Fatty Acid Ratio Increases the Risk for Obesity
For reference, the ratio of omega-6s to omega-3s in a traditional hunter-gatherer diet is closer to 1:1.
Source: The importance of a balanced ω-6 to ω-3 ratio in the prevention and management of obesity
Diets high in omega-3 fats have been linked with lower incidences of diabetes, heart disease, dementia and obesity, while diets high in omega-6 fats have been shown to increase the risk of these diseases.
Source: A fish a day, keeps the cardiologist away! – A review of the effect of omega-3 fatty acids in the cardiovascular system,
Source – An Increase in the Omega-6/Omega-3 Fatty Acid Ratio Increases the Risk for Obesity,
Source: Dietary omega-3 fatty acids and fish consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes.
Source: The omega-6/omega-3 ratio and dementia or cognitive decline: a systematic review on human studies and biological evidence.