Yes, Omega 6 Fats are Paleo, but..
Balanced Ratio of Omega 3 and 6 is Recommended
Omega-6 fatty acids (also known as n-6 fatty acids) are also polyunsaturated fatty acids that are essential nutrients. This means that our bodies cannot make them and we must obtain them from food. They are abundant in the Western diet; common sources include safflower, corn, cottonseed, and soybean oils which are not Paleo.
Omega 6 has been known to be pro-inflammation. Therefore it is vital that the ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 should be balanced. The normal ratio should be 1:1 up to 3:1 but it is not followed in a common modern diet.
Both Omega 3 and Omega 6 are used and transformed by the body but an excess of one can restrain the absorption or transformation of the other.
The right combination of Omega 6 and 3 can improve one’s health. They can act together to fight inflammation and other diseases such as heart, brain and illnesses like arthritis. Ensuring the balance within Omega 3 and 6 can provide all the best possible benefits.
Types of Omega 6
There are two main types of Omega 6 fatty acids: Linoleic acid (LA) and Arachidonic acid (AA).
Linoleic acid is the parent in omega 6. It is considered as essential fatty acid and so it must be obtained from food. It is abundant in vegetable oils except olive and coconut oils.
Arachidonic acid on the other hand is abundant in meat, egg and dairy products. It can also be derived from linoleic acids in vegetable oil.
Benefits of Omega-6
Like Omega 3, Omega 6 comes with health benefits too including the following:
- Omega 6 plays an important role in cell growth and essential in brain and muscle development.
- It promotes bone health
- It promotes healthy skin and relief from eczema and atopic dermatitis
- In women, omega 6 can help with menstrual disorders and other related symptoms
- Omega 6 has been associated in reducing symptoms of diabetic neuropathy, allergies, arthritis and high blood pressure
Too Much Omega 6 Is Bad For You!
Nowadays, the rate of Omega 6 consumed by the human body through vegetable seed oils is way higher compared to Omega 3. Excess n-6 consumption is detrimental to the body and can result to long term problems.
Omega 6 is important like Omega 3 but this is required in lower quantities. Lower levels of Omega 3 and higher levels of Omega 6 consumption can lead to greater risk of many diseases such as heart disease. Excessive linoleic acid in the body can increase the threat of inflammation. Too much inflammation can be the leading drivers of the serious diseases including diabetes, Alzheimer’s and many types of cancer. High Omega 6 intake is associated with depression too.
It is recommended to decrease Omega 6 intake to keep the ratio to Omega 3 balanced. Linoleic acid is abundant in refined vegetable oil that’s why it should be avoided.
Free-range eggs and grass-fed meat normally offer a balance on both. Olive oil and coconut oil are also good source of these fatty acids and will help keep a good ratio. It is also best to consume fresh fish and seafood as they are rich in Omega 3. Limiting the amount of nuts and seeds in your diet can also help in balancing the ratio of the essential fatty acids.
Click here to see what other oils are good and bad from a Paleo perspective.
What Experts Say About Omega 6 Fats.. Are They Paleo?
“Omega-6 is pro-inflammatory, while omega-3 is neutral. A diet with a lot of omega-6 and not much omega-3 will increase inflammation.” – Chris Kresser
“Omega-6 fats are inflammatory, omega-3s are anti-inflammatory.” – Mark Sisson
All you ever wanted to know about Omega 6 Fats and Paleo
Chris Kresser. Essential Fatty Acids, Fish & Fish Oil
Chris Kresser. How too much omega-6 and not enough omega-3 is making us sick
Ultimate Paleo Guide. The Ultimate Paleo Guide To Fish Oil: Omega-6 & Omega-3
Mark’s Daily Apple. Dear Mark: Nuts and Omega-6s
The Paleo Diet . OMEGA-3 VS. OMEGA-6: RETHINKING THE HYPOTHESIS
The Paleo Leap. THE MANY DANGERS OF EXCESS PUFA CONSUMPTION
Mark’s Daily Apple. Why the Omega-3/Omega-6 Ratio May Not Matter After All
Julianne’s Paleo & Zone Nutrition. Omega 6 and 3 in nuts, oils, meat and fish. Tools to get it right.
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photo credit: Sesame Oil, Rice Bran Oil, Hemp Seed Oil. Trendy. Tasty.