Omega 3 and Omega 6

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Omega 3, 6, and 9 Nutrition Guide

A vital nutrient for decreasing inflammation and improving your health

Get Started: Nutrition Coaching Alexandria

Types of fat Omega 3 Omega 6
Infographic explaining the basics of dietary fat intake, their ratios and whole food sources.

Omega 3 is vital polyunsatured fat… are you certain you’re getting enough?

There are three main types of Omega 3 that you should be concerned about consuming and that includes ALA, EPA, and DHA. Most polyunstatured fats are Omega 3, Omega 6, or Omega 9. Most of the nutritional buzz around Omega fatty acids involve just Omega 3 and Omega 6. This is because Omega 3 and Omega 6 fats are considered essential fatty acids (EFA) while your body can generate Omega 9. Common types of Omega 9 acids in the American diet include Oleic acid (included in olive oil, macadeamia nuts, etc.) and Erucic acid (rapeseed, wallflower, and mustard seed.)1

So if you eat enough Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids, your body can produce enough Omega 9 on its own (unless you have special dietary conditions.) Common sources of EPA include safflower, corn, cottonseed, and soybean oils and livestock that consume these products. 2 This should come as no surprise since cattle is supposed to eat grass, but instead us humans have found it cheaper to feed them grain (i.e. corn.) Corn fed cattle can have an Omega 6 : Omega 3 ratio of 20-25 : 1 compared to grassfed cows coming closer to 3:1. Ibid. This isn’t just true for cattle, it’s true for eggs, bison, chickens (which generally eat insect, vegetables, etc. – not just corn, etc.) So, if you feed the animals the food they are supposed to eat, the meat produced by these animals is healthier to eat. Problem is, the American food industry has realized it’s cheaper to feed them grains and inject them with hormones and antibiotics (to deal with the infections) than to feed them the food they are supposed to eat.

While both Omega 3 and Omega 6 are EPAs, Americans primarily need to be concerned about eating more Omega 3 fatty acids, because most Americans eat too many Omega 6 fatty acids in their diet.

Golden Ratio is 1:2 – Omega 3: Omega 6

There is ample literature from dietitians and nutritionists that explains why maintaining a ratio of Omega 3 and Omega 6 fats around 1:1 is the healthy way to go (although some researchers suggest 1:2 or 1:4 is safe enough3). Just to name a few of reasons to eat Omega 3, unbalanced Omega 6 consumption has been linked to heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, premature aging, and some forms of cancer. Omega 6 imbalances have also been linked to inflammation4, blood clotting, and tumor growth. However Omega 3 fatty acids act as the complete opposite. So, to counter the negative effects of Omega 6, you’ll want to consume the same amount of Omega 3 (or at least 25%-50% depending on which researcher you trust.) While Omega 6 imbalances cause a host of health issue, a balance Omega 3/6 profile leads to lowering of triglycerides, heart disease risk, high blood pressure, arthritis, stroke risk, kidney issues, weight loss, etc.

So How Much Omega 3 Do you Need?
2-4 Grams plus extra to compensate for rich Omega 6 Foods

It really depends on your diet. The short answer is enough to counterbalance the Omega 6 you are consuming. Some health professionals like Dr. Oz recommend 1 gram of fish oil a day, 5 but dietitians and researchers tend to indicate around 2-4 grams of fish oil a day is good too.  Again, it’ll depend on whether you are attempting to treat a specific disease, how much you weigh, and what your current diet looks like.

We also have to keep in mind that there are three types of omega 3 fatty acids we need to consume ALA, EPA, and DHA. 6 So how much of each? Assuming you are ingesting 4 grams of omega 3 per day (if you are an average size male) 1.6 grams of ALA,7 2 grams of EPA, and 1.2-1.4 grams of DHA (note people having specific medical conditions should consult a dietitian, because these ratios should be changed to treat different conditions.)

Be sure to also check out:

  1. Omega 3 Breakfast Boost Recipes
  2. Peanuts vs Cashews: the Great Nut Showdown
Food typeFoodServing sizeALA (g)EPA/DHA (g)
EggsEggs, cooked2 eggs0.150.07
EggsOmega-3 eggs fortified with DHA*2 eggs0.520.2
Fats and OilsCanola oil1 TSP0.420
Fats and OilsFlaxseed oil1 TSP2.580
Fats and OilsSoybean oil1 TSP0.310
Fats and OilsWalnut oil1 TSP0.480
FishCanned Anchovies5 Ounces0.023.08
FishCaviar5 Ounces0.023.92
FishClams5 Ounces0.020.42
FishCod5 Ounces00.22
FishCrab5 Ounces0.020.72
FishEel5 Ounces0.840.28
FishHalbut5 Ounces0.11
FishHerring5 Ounces0.143.2
FishLobster5 Ounces0.020.84
FishMussels5 Ounces0.061.18
FishOctopus5 Ounces00.26
FishOysters (cooked Eastern)5 Ounces0.080.76
FishOysters (cooked Pacific)5 Ounces0.12.08
FishSalmon (farm raised)5 Ounces0.22.9
FishSalmon (wild)5 Ounces0.52.5
FishSalmon Sockeye5 Ounces0.121.8
FishSardines5 Ounces0.51.8
FishScallops5 Ounces00.54
FishShrimp5 Ounces0.020.48
FishSnapper5 Ounces00.5
FishTilapia5 Ounces0.060.2
FishTrout5 Ounces0.161.5
FishTuna light water canned5 Ounces00.42
FishTuna white water canned5 Ounces0.11.3
LegumesBlack eye Peas3/4 Cup0.110
LegumesNavy or Pinto Beans3/4 Cup0.20
LegumesSoybeans3/4 Cup0.760
LegumesTofu3/4 Cup0.350
Nuts, Seeds, and breadAlmonds1/4 Cup0.150
Nuts, Seeds, and breadChia seeds1 TBSP1.90
Nuts, Seeds, and breadFlaxseed, ground1 TBSP2.460
Nuts, Seeds, and breadHickory nuts1/4 Cup0.320
Nuts, Seeds, and breadPecans1/4 Cup0.270
Nuts, Seeds, and breadPumpkin seeds1/4 Cup0.060
Nuts, Seeds, and breadSoy nuts1/4 Cup0.420
Nuts, Seeds, and breadWalnuts, black1/4 Cup0.640
Nuts, Seeds, and breadWalnuts, English, Persian1/4 Cup2.30
Soy MilkSoy milk1 Cup0.190
VeggiesEdamame1 Cup0.60
VeggiesRadish seeds1 Cup0.840
VeggiesWinter squash1 Cup0.360
YogurtYogurts fortified with Omega 31 cup0.60
  1. Wikipedia
  2. Mercola
  3. University of Maryland
  4. Although some researchers indicate the opposite. “Omega-6 fatty acids lower LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol) and reduce inflammation, and they are protective against heart disease.” but even that article advocates balancing Omega 3 and Omega 6 is very important.
  5. Dr. Oz Show
  6. U Maryland
  7. Canada’s Dietitian’s Association

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Paul Roberts: Personal Training, Mobility, Yoga, Nutrition

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BioMedical Engineering - Johns Hopkins University.
Juris Doctorate - Rutgers.
Yoga, M|WOD, CrossFit Level II, 3DMAPS, FMT, FMSII, YBT, RKC, TRX, PN.

Paul has trained over 3000 clients and more than a 100 personal trainers over his 10 years as a mobility and strength coach.  He emphasizes safety and corrective exercises in all programming (strength, weight loss, conditioning, etc.)  His practice focuses on improving flawed movement patterns to prevent injury and improve skeletal-muscular function.  Paul employs a balanced approach in training utilizing his training Yoga, CrossFit, Powerlifting, and Movement Courses to systematically strengthen weakened muscles and mobilize joints and muscle tissue.  Move Better ... Train Better.

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Omega 3 and Omega 6

by Paul. Personal Trainer time to read: 4 min
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