Omega-3 and Omega-6. What is the difference and does it really matter to you?

While natural remedies and supplementation have been under the microscope lately, you won’t find many people that disagree with this one. Omega-3 fatty acids are one of the most important diet additions to improve health and prevent chronic disease. Many clinical trials have shown the benefits in reducing the risk for cardiovascular disease including a reduction in arrhythmias, blood clots, triglycerides, blood pressure, plaque formation, and inflammation. The decrease in inflammation is really the big one in my opinion. Inflammation in the body is the cause of  many disease states. You can make the connection that increasing your omega-3 consumption may help prevent or treat any inflammatory diseases in the body. That is pretty huge! Unfortunately, most people do not have enough Omega-3 fatty acids in their diet to reap these benefits but have plenty of Omega-6. This is actually making the situation even worse.

Here are the basics:

Omega-3 and Omega-6 are essential fatty acids that our bodies cannot make on their own.

Omega-3 are found in cold water fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines. The most important Omega-3 Fatty acids for health are EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). A precursor to these fatty acids is ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) which can be converted into EPA and DHA. ALA can be found in flaxseeds and walnuts. DHA and EPA are important building blocks for hormones that control blood clotting, immune function, and cell growth.

Omega- 6 fatty acids can be found in many places in our modern diet. They are found in seeds, nuts, vegetable oils, and processed food. Omega-6 also helps build hormones but these hormones can be detrimental to health by increasing inflammation in the body, blood clotting, and cell proliferation. They have the opposite function from our Omega-3 friends.

Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids can balance each other out when consumed in the right amount but with today’s modern diet, Omega-6 consumption is usually off the charts. This imbalance leads to inflammation and disease.

While supplementing your Omega-3 fatty acids by increasing your fish consumption or taking fish oil supplements is important and definitely recommended there is an even better option. Decrease your Omega-6 consumption! Get rid of the processed food and vegetable oils. Cook your organic produce, wild caught fish, and grass fed meat in healthy fats like coconut oil or ghee. The exciting part about all of this is that you have control over what you put in your body, so make the right choices! ~Emily~

 

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