Omega-3 And Omega-6 -What’s The Difference?

 Omega 3 and 6


If you were to listen to the popular media, it would be pretty easy to get confused about the small amount of information you might hear swirling around here and there about what we should and shouldn’t be eating. 


I do see a lot of confusion from the questions I get asked in general and from concerned clients, about the relationships between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. I find that the reason is because popular media recommend that we eat more omega- 3 fats and limit omega-6 fatty acids, and from that many people assume that this means omega-3s are good and omega-6s are bad. This is not necessarily true. The key is get the ratio right, as both types are really essential for your health.  Let me explain why! 



Huh! What Are Fatty Acids? –  Essential fatty acids (EFAs) that is, Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids are the product of the breakdown of dietary fat. The cells use them for energetic and metabolic processes. You must get these fatty acids from the foods you eat in order to sustain good health.


The Omega-6 Role- Omega-6 fatty acids play many roles in cell regulation, structure and protection. These functions are critical. Some of the functions of omega-6 fatty acids in the body include:


  • Regulates metabolic function


  • Promotes immune response, including inflammation


  • Promotes platelet aggregation (essential for blood clotting)


Foods containing Omega-6 fatty acids are pretty much everywhere without even trying to seek them out specifically. It is in foods such as nuts, whole grains, seeds, cereals, avocados etc. But the reason the average western diet contains too much omega-6 fatty acids is the massive consumption of vegetable oils such as Sunflower, Soybean, and Corn oils – not only for cooking, but also through the eating process, of which a shockingly high percentage contain those oils. Go and check your labels of your snack foods! It’s in stuff like Chips, Crackers, Frozen food, etc. etc.   




The Omega-3 Role- Omega-3 fatty acids are less common in the typical Western diet. Omega-3 fatty acids:


  • Keeps blood from excessive clotting


  • Reduces and regulates inflammation


  • Keeps blood from excessive clotting


  • Improves insulin response


  • Promotes healthy cell membranes


Food sources of Omega-3 fatty acids include seeds like chia, flax, and pumpkin as well as walnuts and of course fish. 



The consequences of EFA Imbalance-


  • Inflammatory chronic pain conditions


  • Heart disease


  • Hardening of the arteries


  • Clotting disorders


  • Asthma


  • Depression and Anxiety


  •  Hormonal imbalance


  •  Autoimmune disease  



 So what are the key differences? –  In a nutshell the difference between one fatty acid and another comes down to tiny molecules. Slight differences in molecular configuration allow each of these fatty acids to work wonders in their own unique ways, which is why it is best to try not to think about one being better than another as they are both of equal importance!  



Bottom Line:  The best way to balance your EFA’s is to limit processed and fast foods and instead rely on fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and healthy whole grain like quinoa, and millet.

It will do you the world of good to have an EFA-balanced diet that can help reduce inflammation and leave you feeling better and looking more glowing and healthy than you have in years!






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