Day 5: Omega 3 & 6

Breakfast: Coffee
Lunch: Chicken and spinach salad with bacon, onion and bell peppers; ½ avocado
Snack: Packet of macadamias and an avocado
Dinner: Beef, peppers and ginger stir fry

Exercise: Weights

I was going to be late home so I had a snack at 6pm; a packet of macadamias and an avocado. I love macadamias, brazils and cashews but macadamias are probably my preferred nut because of their low omega 6 content.

What’s the problem with omega 6? Intrinsically, nothing. Omega 3 and omega 6 are important fats. In fact, they’re “essential”, meaning the body can’t produce them, so we need to get them both from our diets. The question is how much of each to eat. There’s no agreement on the optimal ratio, but eating between equal amounts to twice as many omega 6s as omega 3s is pretty good.

Unfortunately our diets are heavy in omega 6. Studies show that in people on the Standard American Diet (SAD) the ratio is often 20:1 or more. Better omega 3/6 ratios are associated with lower rates of ADHD in kids, better bone density, lower inflammation, lower risk of heart disease and diabetes.

Given that we want roughly equal amounts of omega 3 and omega 6 in our diets, for most of us that means increases our consumption of omega 3 and decreasing our consumption of omega 6. And it’s not enough just to get the ratio right, the absolute level of omega 6 must come down.

The source is important too. Omega 6s in vegetable oils are far more harmful than omega 6s in avocados. Good sources of omega 3 include wild salmon and other fish, grass-fed beef, omega 3 enriched eggs, algae, and supplements. Seeds are OK, but definitely lower quality. Avocados and nuts are good sources of omega 6.

Omega 3 enriched eggs sound like voodoo, but apparently they’re legit. They feed the chickens flax and other seeds that are high in omega 3. The chickens’ digestive system filters the omega 3s and passes them on to the egg.

There’s a lot more to be said about what omega 3/6, and fats in general do. But I won’t be saying it today. If you want to get really technical, Chris Kressor has done a comprehensive series of posts on the subject.