Despite what you may have heard in the media or from friends who are talking nutrition and health, fats are good for you – if you eat the right ones. That is the key. You have to eat the right fats and avoid the wrong ones. Let's talk about some of the most important fats you will ever eat. These are the Omegas, otherwise known as Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs).
EFAs are called essential because the human body can not make these fats on its own. It relies on outside sources for these miracle fats. Now here is the thing about the Omegas. We actually get a lot of Omega 6 and not nearly enough Omega 3. That's right! Omega 6 is easy to get and people are getting a lot of it, in many cases too much, and very little Omega 3.
What does this mean for our health? Our bodies are designed to function with a delicate balance of Omega 3 and Omega 6. Omega 3 acts as an anti-inflammatory and when it is absent or in short supply and Omega 6 is abundant, chronic inflammatory conditions take over the body. Just think about your aches and pains. Think about your allergies and your arthritis. Think about heart disease and cancer. These are all inflammatory diseases!
Why do we have so much Omega 6? Well, Omega 6 is found in all the common oils used in our food today. You can find it in canola oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, corn, and soy. How much of that food do you eat? Now think about flax seed oil, which is the most abundant plant-based source of Omega 3 on earth. Also abundant are walnut oil and fish oil. How much of that do you eat? That's why we get so much Omega 6 and not enough much Omega 3?
What is the ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 that we need to be healthy? A ratio of 1: 1 is the best. According to Dr. Mercola, we are getting a ratio of 20: 1 to 50: 1! That's an incredible difference! Of course, this leaves us with the obvious question. How do we get enough Omega 3?
There are different schools of thought on Omega 3 sources. Some say that oily fish such as salmon, herring, mackerel, and sardines are the best source and it is true that they contain two forms of Omega 3, DHA and EPA, in abundance. But it's not easy to just go out and try to find uncontaminated wild fish. And farmed fish are much lower in Omega 3 than their wild counterparts. Krill has been found to be very high in Omega 3, but there are people who argue that if we start catching krill, we will be depleting the food supply of many animals, including whales.
Fortunately, we have flaxseed oil. Flaxseed oil does not contain DHA or EPA, but it does contain ALA, which the body can convert into DHA and EPA. Supporters of flaxseed oil as the main source of Omega 3 believe that this is the best way to get it. It is sustainable, healthier and better for the planet.
What is the real answer? Well, you'll have to decide for yourself. If you are a vegetarian, then flaxseed oil is the best way to go. If you eat fish, then you can find a good source of Omega 3 there, Nordic Naturals and Carlsons are the better brands easily available. Either way, we all need more Omega 3 and you might just be surprised at how much your health improves when you bring it in into your diet.