I have been on the keto lifestyle a while now, and I never did understand what all the fuss was about the omega 3 vs omega 6 fatty acids.
I did some extensive research and WOW, when they are used in the right ratio they can and probably will change the way you feel about nutrition.
I also found out something that is crucial for my kids up bringing and development and it made me feel like I am a bad parent for not knowing this sooner.
To get all the important information I did have to go to multiple websites to get all of them and for your convenience will be written in on post.
Let’s get going shall we?
What is an essential fatty acid?
Our bodies cannot exist without these fatty acids and can not be made or synthesized by the body and therefore are called essential.
These categories of fats is not only used for energy, it used to replace body parts. Your nervous system and brain are mostly made out of fat. So in order for your body to stay healthy you need to eat fat.
There are 2 main categories of essential fatty acids:
- ALA: Alpha Lenolenic acid (OMEGA 3)
- EPA and DHA ( 2 additional omega 3)
The foods to eat to get ALA are:
- leafy greens
- flax ( the best according to many articles, but it needs to convert and that is only about 5%, so not much)
The foods to eat to get EPA and DHA: omega 3
- salmon (wild caught)
- cod liver oil
- caviar ( especially great for fertility in men and women)
- fatty fish
- grass fed beef (4:1 ratio) 4 omega 3 / 1 omega 6 (very good!!!)
omega 6 fatty acid foods: LA, Lenoleic acid
- vegetable, corn, soybean, canola and other GMO oils
- salad dressing
- most mayonnaise
- most foods that are fried in these oils, like potato chips and other processed foods.
Is omega 6 really so bad compared to omega 3 ?
Omega 6 fatty acids are inflammatory and omega 3 are anti-inflammatory.
The short answer is yes, but with a twist.
Omega 3 and 6 do work together but only if their ratio is not far apart, because omega 6 tend to block the benefits of omega 3.
The ratio for omega 3 to 6 is 1:20 in the US and other countries that are following a western diet.
The grocery store is filled with about 90% of omega 6 (and carbohydrate) containing foods.
But, omega 6 is not as evil as everyone makes it out to be, the main problem is that it is too much in abundance in our diets.
Omega 6 is needed for some health and healing benefits, but we are over doing it. When your body is fighting an infection or has a like a cut or bruise, it is in inflammation mode. We need it to be so that we can heal.
There is an Acid called Arachadonic Acid, which is building block for Prostaglandins. This helps with healing of the body and fighting off infections.
So as bad as omega 6 fatty acids sound we do need them.
What can we do reduce omega 6 in our diets?
It is crazy easy to over eat on omega 6 foods.
To give you a perspective on this. If you have 2 Tbsp of grape seed oil you van eat seafood all day long and can still not offset the amount of omega 6.
It is easier to limit your omega 6 foods than raising your omega 3 intake. Also, there are lot of people that just don’t eat seafood whether there allergic or not.
Nowadays almost no (fast food) restaurant cooks and fries with beef tallow and lard anymore because it is to expensive versus the soy, corn, peanut oils.
So eating out to keep your omega 6 down is a no no.
Coconut oil, olive oil, palm oil, lard and butter fat are all relatively low in omega 6 and can be used for cooking. Just look at the proper smoke point to keep these oil and butter benefits.
Omega 3 is crucial for kids and their brain development.
When I heard of this I really did feel like a bad parent and ran to the market to get some cod liver oil and seafood.
According to studies, if you deprive your child in DHA, their brain will not develop as it should and that will lower the I.Q. of the child.
The vision of the child will also be poor by limiting these fatty acids and even sex hormones. Made me wonder about all the sex and gender confusion there are these days.
DHA and EPA is essential in brain function and can even help prevent Alzheimers, dementia and even help with mild memory loss.
Why this is not on the news every day or thought in every school astonishes me.
On YouTube I did see that the BBC news had a short film on omega 3 supplementation on kids in middle school. There were two groups. One group was given an omega 3 supplements, and the other group a placebo for 6 months. Neither the students nor teachers knew who got what.
The results were quite eye-opening. Many students who did get the omega 3 supplements did show improvement in focus, concentration, memory and even hand writing.
Why this is not considered to be an essential daily supplement is beyond me, especially with the foods we eat today. But now you and I know and will do something about it.
Symptoms of omega 3 deficiencies.
Symptoms of omega 3 deficiencies include:
- lower I.Q.
- retina problems (poor vision)
- hearth problems, inflammatory conditions
- blood pressure problems
- bad mood/depression/anxiety
- decrease sperm count
- skin problems ( dry and scaly skin)
To me this is also worrisome because of the spike in depression/anxiety in our society. Maybe a poor diet is a leading cause and or factor in much of the physical and mental health issues plaguing our society.
Are you a vegan and do not eat seafood?
The fats from ALA, leafy greens, nut etc, can be converted to EPA at a rate of about 5%.
The EPA conversion to DHA is about 0 to 4%.
In other words you get almost no omega 3 in your diet as a vegan.
So for vegans out there, look for the symptoms mentioned above and maybe you will have to add these supplements to your diet.
Omega 3 deficiencies on keto?
Sometimes people who are on the keto diet think they are super healthy because they are not eating inflammatory carbohydrates anymore, right? I did.
By eating the wrong types of fat and oils you can still be in an inflammatory state. You are way better off of course eating no carbs, but you need to check the quality of your fats too. Exhausting isn’t it? (sigh).
You can get a “keto rash”, this may come from loading too much on the omega 6. Your still eating too much of that bad quality mayonnaise or eating too many seeds and nuts. Macadamia is the best of all by the way (and the most expensive of course).
So it also important to supplement or eat more omega 3 fatty acids.
To eat or to supplement?
Now eating fish almost every day to up your omega 3 daily intake is not the most effective and cost friendly way. My wife would kill me if I made fish every day. I honestly would not mind at all. I do live in the Caribbean by the way.
So supplements are OK but you need to have the high quality ones because the lower quality tend to be oxidized and do not have good affect.
A good cod liver oil is also a good way to go.
Salmon with the skin on it has the most omega 3, not the fillet with no skin in the frozen section. It’s like a freaking scavenger party right?
Which fish are the best in omega 3?
These are the fish you can eat with high omega 3 fatty acids.
- Cod liver
After eating all these fish, you might be wondering the following:
Should I be worried about mercury in fish?
Yes mercury is toxic and should be avoided by pregnant mothers.
But you can offset mercury by eating foods that are high in Selenium. Selenium acts like a mercury magnet. It is critical that we maintain a surplus of selenium in the body to effectively neutralize mercury.
But eating a moderate amount of fish will not be a mayor problem.
It might seem like the pro and cons never end, You have to eat this and not that, and when you do eat this be sure to supplement that and so on.
My take on it is, do not overdo anything just try to eat as healthy as possibly, cheat once in a while and enjoy life.
I like to keep a balance in life on almost everything, and that includes what I feed me and my family.
If you have any concerns or questions about this article, please leave them in the comment section below.