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#6 The importance of omega-3 and omega-6 balance

Omegas are a type of essential fatty acids that our body cannot synthesize and therefore we have to ingest them through the diet. Among many functions, they send signals to the body to carry out certain functions related to the modulation of cellular inflammation. The importance of the balance between omega 6 and omega 3 lies in the fact that these signals generated – called prostaglandins – are different depending on whether they come from one type of fatty acid or another; thus, depending on their origin, they will be pro-inflammatory (if they are from omega 6) or anti-inflammatory (if they are from omega 3).

Nowadays there is a very erroneous and nonsensical ratio between these essential fatty acids, where we find ourselves with a reality totally far from the diet followed by our ancestors. The correct ratio between omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids should be, according to official recommendations, 1:5 respectively, but we are finding values of 1:15 in the best cases. With industrialization, many products with saturated fats have been included in our diet and, above all, in trans forms – hydrogenated forms – which did not exist many years ago. In the last 100 years, as the amount of trans fats in the diet has increased, the consumption of omega 6 has also increased even more. At the same time, omega-3 fat has decreased.

High intakes of foods rich in omega-6 are associated with an increase in the incidence of inflammatory diseases such as cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes, asthma, autoimmune diseases, cancer and depression, among many others.
If our diet is too high in omega-6-rich foods, we will not only have to increase omega-3 levels to compensate, but also decrease their intake.

In this way we can help our body to recover the balance between these fatty acids, which are essential to prevent and treat chronic diseases, as well as to synthesize hormones and other lipid molecules.

  • Foods with omega 6: sunflower oil, corn oil, peanuts, animal fat, nuts, sausages, eggs, margarine and soybeans.
  • Foods with omega 3: flax seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, oily fish -salmon, sardines, tuna, mackerel, anchovies-, shellfish, seaweed and avocado.

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