Not all fat is bad, and you know that. Chances are that at some point you've heard about good fats from someone saying something like; "eat avocado, it has plenty of good fats" or "this salmon is delicious, must be all the good fats!" Well what exactly are good fats? What makes them good? And where do we get them?
Good fats come from various forms of long-chain fatty acids called Omega 3's and Omega 6's. These fats are essential for a number of reasons; one being that they transport certain vitamins (A, D, E, and K) around your body; so, it is vital that we are consuming these fats, while limiting bad fats (saturated and trans).
So, what's the difference between these two Omega fats?
Omega 3's have anti-inflammatory benefits (important for cancer prevention) as well as reducing heart disease risk, and Omega 6's are important for lowering blood cholesterol and supporting the skin. So, they are both important, however recent studies have shown that these fats can be bad for us depending on how we consume them.
The Golden Ratio
The best thing to do is consume less Omega 6's and more Omega 3's.
According to recent studies, data has shown that our hunter-gatherer ancestors consumed the 2 Omega fats in a ratio of approximately 1:1, and had no evidence of metabolic diseases, heart conditions, inflammatory disorders or cancers. Humans on average now consume these fats in a staggering ratio of about 16:1, Omega 6's to Omega 3's respectively.
The problem occurs because the two Omegas compete with each other to carry out their functions, which, when consuming excess amounts of Omega 6, causes the benefits of Omega 3 to be supressed.
This then increases the risk of heart disease and inflammation of joints and organs, which is a major cause of cancer. That's not to say that we shouldn't consume ANY Omega 6 fats at all, because they are important; we just need to acknowledge the effects that a poor ratio can have.
Where can we find these fats?
The following table shows a list of various types of oils and the Omega content in each.
From these percentages below, you can see that the best choice of oil is Canola as it's ratio of Omega 6's to Omega 3's is about 2:1 respectively, and flaxseed and fish oils have a higher amount of Omega 3's, which evens out the overall balance.
Type of Oil Omega-6 Content Omega-3 Content
Safflower 75% 0%
Sunflower 65% 0%
Corn 54% 0%
Cottonseed 50% 0%
Sesame 42% 0%
Peanut 32% 0%
Soybean 51% 7%
Canola 20% 9%
Walnut 52% 10%
Flaxseed 14% 57%
Fish 0% 100%
So, remember the best thing to do is consume less Omega 6's and more Omega 3's.
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