We all know that some fats are essential to the body. There are some fats that our body cannot produce which means that we must get them from our food. Perhaps you’ve heard of omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids. These are both considered essential and must be supplied by the foods we eat.
What do they do? Well, the omega-3 fatty acid, for example is used for the production of healthy cell membranes and for the production of a class of hormones called prostaglandins. You know how aspirin and acetaminophen are anti-inflammatory? So are the prostaglandins that our bodies produce from omega-3 fatty acids.
Now, we need the omega-3 and the omega-6’s to be in the proper combination to be most effective to us. Empirical evidence shows that the proper ratio is about 4:1 between omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. What do you suppose our average diet gives us? About a 20:1 and up to a 40:1 ratio; not even close to the optimal ratio.
Why is the balance so out of whack? Well, our normal diets are rich in omega-6 fatty acids. We get them from meats, dairy products, and processed foods. We eat a lot of those foods on average. We get omega-3 fatty acids from certain vegetable oils such as flaxseed, canola, and soybean. And we get omega-3 fatty acids from cold-water fish such as mackerel, sardines, salmon, and tuna.
And now you know why we have been encouraged to eat more fish, especially the salmon. It is especially rich in the beneficial omega-3 fatty acids. Salmon or any of the other omega-3 rich fish should be consumed at least once a week. In order to get the omega-6 vs. omega-3 ratio in order, decrease your consumption of the saturated fat from meats and dairy products and increase your consumption of fish such as salmon.
Do you know how else you will benefit from increased consumption of omega-3 fatty acids? Your cholesterol level will improve. You see, the essential omega-3 fatty acids have the ability to help decrease your total cholesterol and your LDL cholesterol level. The LDL cholesterol is the so-called bad cholesterol. So you will improve your cholesterol levels by adding a better balance of omega-3 fatty acids to your diet.
Not surprisingly, the omega-3 fatty acids can be heart healthy. Several diseases show improvement when patients increase their intake of these essential fats. So, eat well, take appropriate supplements, and stay healthy.