Is eating too much Omega-6 bad for you?

by Justin Casey

Omega 3,6 and 9 get a lot of press as they help maintain a lot of processes in the body. We try to eat them or take a good supplement but did you know most of us consume too much Omega 6?

Omega 6 is essential in small quantities. It is a polyunsaturated fat that our body cannot produce so we need to ensure we take in an adequate amount from our diet. It carries important benefits, it reduces nerve pain, it supports bone health, it decreases blood pressure, it alleviates symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis but too much Omega 6 is believed to cause problems for your body.

Statistics show the average person consumes 20 times more Omega 6 than their body is capable of processing. Too much Omega 6 in your body has an inflammatory effect on the body. Inflammatory responses within the body are linked to common diseases including heart disease, stroke, type-2 diabetes, obesity, irritable bowel syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis and certain forms of cancer.

Too much Omega 6 in your diet also prevents Omega 3 uptake. Omega-3 and Omega-6 are structurally similar and are processed by the same enzymes. This means if you eat too much Omega-6, any Omega-3 you ingest will not be absorbed. This is unwelcome as Omega-3 brings many valuable benefits. It is anti-inflammatory, it boosts your mood and prevents heart disease.

Scientists advise your body should have an Omega 3:Omega-6 ratio of 1:1. The average person has a ratio 1:20. The Omega 3 we ingest is unable to help us due to too much Omega-6. If you’re grumpy and depressed, it could be you’re not getting enough Omega-3 because any Omega-3 you do ingest isn’t being processed.

So what can you do to bring down the amount of Omega-6 in your blood.

Know what to avoid

Omega 6 is found in nuts, seeds and vegetable oils. Foods with a high content of Omega-6 are foods that have been fried or processed with seed oils, most commonly corn oil, soybean oil and sunflower oil.

by Gary Meulemans

Fast Food, Fried Food and Processed Food tends to have a high content of Omega-6, especially if eaten in large quantities. Foods to eat less of include Crisps, Baked Goods, French Fries, and Foods fried in too much Oil. To lower the amount of Omega-6 you consume, you need to bring down your intake of these types of food.

Keep eating Omega 6

You still need to ensure you keep eating Omega 6. Your body needs it to function properly and this is why it is termed an “essential” fatty acid, but be aware of the amount you ingest.

Good food sources of Omega 6

  • Safflower Oil
  • Sunflower Oil
  • Soybean oil
  • Corn
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Walnuts
  • Pumpkin Seeds

If you typically eat 2000 calories per day, you should aim to take in 11–22 grams of Omega-6 fats per day. One tablespoon of safflower oil will give you 9 grams of Omega-6 fats. 2 tablespoons of walnuts will give you 11 grams of Omega-6 fats.

Improve the ratio of Omega –3 to Omega-6

Above all you should eat more Omega-3 than Omega-6, specifically eat more Omega 3 EPA and DHA. Compared to Omega-6, Omega-3 is more beneficial, and is less likely to cause you health problems as long as it is from a non-polluted source. Your best source for Omega-3 is oily fish such as Salmon, Mackerel and Trout.

Ultimately your goal should be to eat more Omega-3 EPA and DHA and minimize the amount of fried and processed food you eat.

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