There is so much literature on the importance of fat in our diets, whether we should have it or not, what kind is the best and what proportions of fat to consume in dietary intake. The argument that takes the cake is battle between Omega 3 and Omega 6. Instead of shedding light, we end up feeling confused on what to do. To part the troubled waters, we bring you a definitive guide to eating your fats and which Omega fatty acids you should patronize.
Omega 3 and Omega 6 are both important as they are both essential fatty acids. The human body cannot synthesize them naturally but needs them for metabolic processes. Therefore, low-fat diets cause more harm than good as they reduce the body to a stage where it must work without these essential components to function efficiently, making it vulnerable to many diseases.
Both these fatty acids serve different purposes. But the body can use them both only up to a certain amount. So, each begins to compete with the other. More research was done in both after a spike was found in obesity and cancer. The culprits were found to be vegetable oils that are rich in Omega 6.
Omega 3 fatty acids are very beneficial for the body. They are important constituents of cell membranes and affect the cell receptors. The hormones of our body, those biological messengers that ensure the body runs smoothly, need Omega 3. These hormones are responsible for optimal heart and brain function and efficient genetic expression. Wait, it doesn’t end here. Omega 3 also prevents lupus, eczema, rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease, stroke and even cancer. Some good sources of Omega 3 are salmon, sardines, beef, walnuts, flaxseeds, and cauliflowers.
Omega 6 fatty acids are found mostly in vegetable oils. They cause inflammation in the body and contribute towards many diseases. Our ancestors struck a balance when consuming both these fatty acids. A ratio of 1:1 doesn’t cause adverse effects on health. Both compete for the enzymes needed for digestion. Our diets have become rich in Omega 6 because we eat a lot of grains and many products have vegetable oils like corn oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil and soybean oil is hidden in them.
These oils don’t cost much, and therefore, they are added to processed foods like cookies, popcorn, margarine, frozen food and many such other snacks. Many of these oils are genetically modified even. These oils when cooked at high temperatures, like frying, oxidize the fat and make the body prone to cardiac problems, mutations in DNA, and cancer.
The best way to ensure that you are taking in ample amounts of Omega 3 and Omega 6 is by following a 1:1 ratio. You can achieve this by eating more of Omega 3 foods and doing away with processed food and hydrogenated vegetable oils. Eat more of fish, at least twice a week, and have an Omega 3 supplement to cover all bases.