A Bad Rap for Omega 6?
Is Omega 6 getting a bad Rap? Is Omega 6 better for you than Omega 3?
Is Omega 6 bad for you?
There’s a lot being written about essential fatty acids (EFA’s) over the past
few years. Are they good for you? Of course they are - that’s why
everyone is talking about them.
But, more recently there is talk that Omega 6 can be bad for you.
So, what’s the truth about this bad rap on Omega 6?
Here’s the scoop. Omega 6 is an essential fatty acid. It’s called essential
because you body can not manufacture it from other foods and it’s
essential for your health. Therefore it must come from your diet.
No bad rap there.
There are other EFA’s like Omega 3 and Omega 9. All of these are good for
you. So what’s the negative talk about?
Here is the bottom line right up front –
The most important thing is the ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3.
There is some disagreement as to the exact proper ratio. Experts say that
the range is somewhere between a 1:1 ratio to a 4:1 ratio where you
would get 4-times as much Omega 6 as Omega 3.
But that’s the problem. The average diet in the US has a ratio in the range
of 20:1 to 25:1. That’s a huge problem! The bad rap is that we are out
of balance. We are getting too much of a good thing.
What’s Wrong With That?
Here’s the deal –
Omega 6 promotes inflammation
Omega 3 reduces inflammation
When your diet is in balance, your body functions properly. When you
have a 20:1 imbalance in your diet, you will have chronic inflammation
throughout your body. This causes huge issues for your health.
What’s The Solution?
I could give you a lot of technical stuff to tell you more details, but I’m just
going to lay out the answers for you.
1) You need to reduce the Omega 6 in your diet.
2) You need to increase the Omega 3 in your diet.
Too easy, right? Here is how you do it. Reduce the Omega 6 in your diet
by eating less vegetable oil like corn oil, canola oil, and cottonseed oil.
These have become so prevalent in our diets that we get a lot more than
we need. Cut down on fried foods from restaurants. Don’t use corn or
canola oil at home. I’ll give you some options in a moment.
You can increase the Omega 3 in your diet by either eating fish every day
(sorry, not for me) or by taking a fish oil supplement. Get capsules that
are enteric coated to prevent burping that fishy aftertaste.
If you do those few things, your EFA’s will be in much better balance.
If you want more of the technical details, read my article on chronic
Omega 6 Bad Rap
There is one last aspect of your EFA balance that I need to cover. Sorry,
but this does get a little technical but you can handle it, right?
There are multiple EFA’s (Omega 3, Omega 6, and Omega 9).
Well, there are also multiple components of each category. In general we
get way too much Omega 6 but there is one component of the Omega 6
family where some people can be deficient.
We do not get enough Arachidonic Acid (AA). If we get way too much
Omega-6 in your diet, how can we be deficient in AA which is one type of
It's because we get our over-supply of Omega-6 from vegetable oils which
have very little (if any) AA. We get most of our AA from animals. The best
sources are eggs, fish, and organs (like liver). The next best sources are
beef & chicken. This is one of the problems with a vegetarian diet.
If you eat plenty of meat, you probably get enough AA in your diet. If you
are a vegan, consider supplementing with a small dose of AA. Or, if you
eat vegetarian but not vegan, try eating eggs on a regular basis to get
Is Omega 6 getting a bad rap? Yes….and no.
We need it in our diet for good health but we are getting far too much of it
from vegetable oil sources.
Reduce your consumption of corn oil, canola oil and cottonseed oil. Take a
fish oil supplement every day to balance your EFA’s.
Finally, I promised to give you some options for cooking oils that you can
use at home. Very few oils will not break down and become rancid when
For cooking at home, coconut oil or palm oil are your best choices.
I have personally used unflavored coconut oil for years. I also use olive oil
and butter but only at low temperatures.
If you have questions about coconut oil or palm oil, here are a couple of
links to some good articles:
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A Bad Rap for Omega 6