While both omega 3 and omega 6 are what are is referred to as essential fatty acids, omega 3 has many more health benefits than omega 6. Dr. Weil explains that omega 6 fatty acids are present in nearly every part of the American diet, while omega 3 is nearly nonexistent.
Although omega 6 is a necessary part of every person's diet, the simple fact is that you probably don't consume the necessary amount of omega 3.
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Omega 3 comes mainly from flax seeds and fish, according to Dr. Frank Sacks of the Harvard School of Public Health. By contrast, there are many more omega 6 food sources, but most Americans still fail to get enough.
Eating foods like whole grain cereals, cashews and avocados will help you to increase your omega 6 intake greatly.
How much omega 3 should you eat?
Because it is very likely that you already get more than enough omega 3 through fast foods, corn oil and other low quality oils, you probably don't need to take an omega 3 supplement. Medical professionals at WebMD state that healthy adults only need about a single gram of omega 3 daily in order to maintain health.
While omega 3 supplements are available, you should first carefully examine your diet to see if they are really necessary. Consuming too much omega 3 can cause you to become more prone to swelling, and possibly cause you to bleed more even from minor cuts.
High omega 3 consumption also leads to excessive weight gain as the foods richest in omega 3 also come with a high amount of calories.
How much omega 6 should you consume?
Omega 6, which is found in diary, chicken, nuts, seeds and vegetables, is needed in much higher amounts than omega 3. In fact, the National Center for Biotechnology Information recommends those with cancer and asthma to eat anywhere between a 4:1 to a 5:1 ratio of omega 6 and omega 3 each day.
You can get all the omega 6 that you need with supplements, but it is still suggested that you try to eat omega 6 rich foods instead. The best way to get omega 6 is via flax seed oil or any other oil that is rich in this essential fatty acid.
Not only will you be able to get the daily recommended dose, but you will be consuming some of the richest oils filled with antioxidants.
Are there any other essential fatty acids you should add to your diet?
When doctors say that everyone needs at least a little fat in their diets, they are usually referring to unsaturated oils and essential fatty oils. Hydrogenated oils filled with saturated fats cause arteries to become clogged and internal organs to work overtime.
The only other essential fatty acid that you will need in your diet is omega 9. One of the best sources for omega 9 is olive oil, but you will need to consume extra virgin olive oil in order to get the most benefits.
Countries that consume the most olive oil have been shown to have some of the highest life expectancy rates.
What happens if you don't get enough omega 3 or omega 6?
The heart and cardiovascular system needs both omega 6 and omega 3 to work properly. Although too much of any fat can cause major health complications, consuming too little can cause the rest of your body to slowly deteriorate.
Omega 3 deficiency is not terribly common in the United States. The symptoms of an omega 3 deficiency can include skin issues, exhaustion and mental imbalance, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.
If you do not include enough omega 6 in your diet, your heart will not be healthy. Since the heart pumps blood throughout the human body, virtually anything related to circulation and blood can be affected.
Failing to take in enough omega 3 and omega 6 can cause long term health issues. While your body will not completely shut down due to omega 6 and omega 3 deficiencies, it will become increasingly difficult for you to function at all.
Anorexics, bulimics and anyone that is starving to death will usually become deficient in omega 6 and omega 3 since not enough food is being eaten. Some people that eat extremely low fat diets can also become deficient in these fatty acids if they are not taking supplements daily.
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