Omega 6 Fatty Acids

Omega-6 Fatty Acids are one of the two types of essential fatty acids we need to consume to stay healthy.  Omega-6 fatty acids belong to a group of “good fats” called Polyunsaturated fats and can be beneficial to your health.  Unfortunately, these “good fats” cannot be produced by the body.  The most beneficial Omega-6 fatty acids are ones that contains linoleic acid, which converts to gamma linoleic acid (GLA).  GLA eventually turns into hormone-like molecules to regulate inflammation and blood pressure as well as heart, gastrointestinal, and kidney functions.  Some good Omega-6 fatty acid food sources include cereals, eggs, poultry, most vegetable oils, whole-grain breads, baked goods and margarine.  Mediterranean diets are best to follow because they consume generous amounts of whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, olive oil and garlic and they consume minimal amounts of meat, which is extremely high in Omega-6 fatty acids.

Nutritionists have found out that in order to get the maximum benefits from both Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, you must consume a balance of the two.  Unfortunately, most of our diets are heavy in Omega-6 and lack in the Omega-3 fatty acids.  Consuming an excess of Omega-6 fatty acids can result in increased water retention, raised blood pressure and the increased risk of blood clotting.  The ideal ratio of Omega-6 versus Omega-3 fatty acids should be 3:1 (three Omega-6 to one Omega-3 fatty acids).  The imbalance of essential fatty acids contributes too many long-term diseases, including heart disease, cancer, asthma, arthritis and depression.  The average American diet provides more than 10 times the necessary amount of Omega-6 fatty acids and almost no Omega-3 fatty acids.  Most of our diets consist of processed foods and cooking oils which break down when heated. 

If you are to consume any supplements, it is important to discuss first with your physician.  Dietary supplements can interfere with certain medications.  People with seizure disorders should avoid any supplements containing Omega-6 or Omega-3 fatty acids.  Pregnant women should avoid consumption of Borage seed oil and other sources of gamma-linoleic acid because they may cause harm to the fetus and induce early labor.

Some dietary tips on how to boost your intake of Omega-3 fatty acids to make your consumption of essential fatty acids more complete:

  • Use fresh seeds sprinkled on salads, such as hemp, pumpkin and sunflower.
  • Use nuts in salads or mixed with raisins as snacks, especially walnuts, pecans and hazelnuts.
  • Switch to whole-grain bread and pastas, as well as brown rice.
  • Eat whole-grain cereals, such as Shredded Wheat rather than refined cereal, such as Cornflakes.
  • Use cold-pressed seed oils in salad dressings, but make sure it’s fresh and has been packaged in an opaque container so light won’t alter the oil.
  • Eat fatty fish a minimum of once a week, the best suggestions, mackerel, trout, unfarmed salmon and herring.
  • Avoid lowfat and diet foods and shakes for meals, these are low in essential fatty acids.
  • Choose free-range chicken and wild meats whenever possible, they contain higher amounts of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids.
  • Choose organic, free-range eggs if you can.  Free foraging hens feed on natural food and lay eggs containing up to 30% more essential fatty acids.


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