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Omega-6:3 Balance and Health benefits

Before the agriculture revolution came along humans were consuming a diet much lower on saturated fatty acids than today’s diet. The diet also contained a roughly equal amount of Omega-6 and Omega-3 in a ratio of 1-2:1. The foods commonly available was lean meat, fish, green leafy vegetables, fruits, nuts, berries, and honey. These were the foods that shaped modern humans’ genetic nutritional requirements.

With the Agriculture revolution came cereal grains such as wheat, maize, and rice. These three cereal accounts for 75% of the world’s grain production. Cereal grains are high in carbohydrates and Omega-6 fatty acids but low on Omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants. Furthermore, the industrial production of animal feeds rich in grains containing Omega-6 fatty acids, leading to the production of meat rich in Omega-6 and poor in Omega-3. The same is true for cultured fish and eggs. Even cultivated vegetables contain fewer Omega-3 fatty acids than plants in the wild.

The nutritional implication of high grain consumption upon human health is enormous. The Omega-6:3 balance has been pushed from a ratio 1-2:1 to 15-25:1. Recent studies show a low fat/high carbohydrates diets increase insulin resistance and hyperinsulinemia condition that increases the risk of coronary heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, and obesity.

The body constructs hormones from omega 6 fatty acids. These tend to increase inflammation (an important component of the immune response), blood clotting, and allergic and inflammatory disorders, while those from omega-3 fatty acids decrease those functions. Both families of hormones must be in balance to maintain optimum health.

It is essential for good health that our diet has a balanced intake of both Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids just like humans in the pre-agriculture revolution.