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Fats 8 - Omega 6:Omega 3 Ratio

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  • Anand Subramanian
    OMEGA 6:OMEGA 3 RATIO The ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 fatty acid is very important and this is the reason I chose to have a separate write up on this (even
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 19, 2005
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      The ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 fatty acid is very important and this is the reason I chose to have a separate write up on this (even though my plan was to write on something else I thought this is relevent to the current discussion).
      What is the recommended ratio and what is the acutal intake ratio?
      The recommended intake ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 fatty acid is 4:1. However, Americans (westerners) consume Omega 6 and Omega 3 fatty acids in the ratio of around 20:1, which is extremely unbalanced.
      What is the reason for the increased intake of Omega 6 fatty acids?
      Cereals and baked products, which are made from grains, are major sources of Omega 6 fatty acids. And fish oil such as cod liver oil contain lot of Omega 3 fatty acid. Since westeners consume lot of cereals and baked products (my daily breakfast is either cereal or bread) than products that contain Omega 3, the ratio of Omega 3 and Omega 6 acids in the body is unbalanced.
      What happens when the ratio is unbalanced?
      We discussed that Omega 3 and Omega 6 are essential for various health reasons. When the ratio is unbalanced, the purpose of consuming these fatty acids is not served. On the contrary, this may even cause heart diseases, cancer, strokes, etc.
      How do we rectify this imbalance?
      There are 2 ways to address this problem, one is to reduce intake of foods such as cereals and breads and the other is to increase the intake of Omega 3 foods and supplements. While the former is almost impossible, the latter is within reach. The best way is to increase the intake of fish or take fish oil pills. For vegetarians like me, one option, although not as good as the first one, is to use canola oil for cooking instead of vegetable oil.
      How has the industry reacted to this situation?
      The food industry's response to this is quite interesting. The first and second largest producers of cereals, Kelloggs and General mills have already started developing new products to address these problems. The main reason probably would be the increasing aware of Omega 6:Omega 3 imbalance and hence the reduction in intake of cereal products. They are trying to exploit the fact that Americans consume lots of cereals. They developing cereals fortified with fish oil, which will be out in the market by 2006. Most probably the amount of Omega 3 fortification will be such that the ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 is 4:1. Now we dont have to change our diet habits or take Omega 3 supplements in order to maintain the ratio. Just follow your normal eating habit and you will automatically ingest Omega 3 fatty acids.
      Anand Subramanian
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