What Is The Healthy Ratio Of Omega-3 To Omega-6?

Omega-3 fats are constantly in the news, and by now almost everyone has at least some awareness of the health benefits these fatty acids can provide.

But have you ever given a second thought to Omega-6 fats? And what about your body’s ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6? If you’re like most of us, probably not, but we intend to change that in this article, so read on.


What Is Omega-6?

Omega-6 fatty acids are considered to be essential, your body needs them to maintain health, but it cannot manufacture them and you must get them through foods.

Omega-6 sources include nuts, seeds, and the oils that are extracted from them. Heavily refined vegetable oils, such as canola, corn, and soy oil, are ubiquitous in the American diet and are a major source of Omega-6.


In fact, it’s estimated that 20 percent of our calories come from soybean oil in the snacks and fast foods we consume on a regular basis.1

Omega-3 Sources

When it comes to Omega-3 there are few sources in our normal diet. Most of our Omega-3 comes from the fat of cold water fish, such as mackerel, sardines, bluefish, herring, and of course salmon. These sources supply the critical fatty acids our bodies need, EPA and DHA.


There are also plant-based sources of Omega-3, such as flaxseeds and walnuts, which supply alpha-linolenic acid that your body must convert to DHA and EPA.

Omega-6 To Omega-3 Balance

You may not give much thought to Omega-3 and Omega-6, but your body needs both of these fatty acids to survive. Additionally, these fatty acids work together to keep things in balance in your body.


For instance, Omega-6 tends to work towards increasing inflammation, while Omega-3 is well known for reducing inflammation.

That’s why the ratio of these two fatty acids is so critical in maintaining optimum health.


Optimum Omega-6 To Omega-3 Ratio

Over time, our Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio has crept up to alarming levels. Years ago, the ratio was thought to be pretty equal, and researchers recommend maintaining a balance of 4:1 to 1:1 to keep things running right.

However, our modern diet has caused our ratios to rise sharply. In fact, it’s estimated that in North America and Europe the Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio is anywhere from 10:1 to 30:1!


Why Are We So Out Of Balance?

How did we get this way, you might ask? Well, the answer is pretty obvious. Since we get these fatty acids directly from our diet, we have no one to blame but ourselves.

The modern American diet is loaded with saturated animal fats and mostly devoid of lean protein like fish, seeds, and nuts.


In addition to that, all the processed, fried, and conveniently packaged foods we consume to accommodate our face-paced lives is loaded with Omega-6. All this adds up to make our bodies out of whack with respect to our Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio, and it has the potential to make us very unhealthy.

How To Fix The Ratio?

In theory, the answer is pretty simple, but in practice, it’s a bit harder to pull off.

Reduce Processed Food Consumption

Instead of relying on something from a fast food drive-thru or a package that you toss in the microwave, buy fresh foods and go back to cooking again. Yes, it takes a bit more effort and planning, but you’ll be rewarded with great tasting meals and a boost in your energy levels and overall health.

Become A Label Reader

When I first started reading nutrition labels, it took me 3 times as long to do my food shopping. I’ve gotten better at it now, and I’ve also cut way down on buying packaged foods.

When learning to read labels, look for anything that has hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated in the list of ingredients, and then pass these by.2 Also, look for soybean oil, or any words ending in -ose, as these are usually added sugars.

Embrace Good Fats

Bad fats are not usually found in nature. It’s what we do to foods that create the bad fats. The low-fat craze of the last few decades has ruined the health of many people by adding processed sugar in huge amounts to the American diet.

Healthy fats such as those from tree nuts, avocados, olive oil, and cold-water fish are all good for you in moderate amounts. Be sure to check with your doctor before adding or changing anything in your diet.

Modify Diet To Reduce Chronic Inflammation

We all make dietary choices every day, and these choices have the potential to seriously impact our health. When trying to reduce chronic inflammation, many people seek to increase their intake of Omega-3 fatty acids, but few people give any thought to the ratio between Omega-6 and Omega-3.

By making sound choices when it comes to what you’re eating, reducing the amount of Omega-6 and thereby lowering the ratio between these two essential fatty acids will enable you to bring chronic inflammation under control.