Omega 6 lies at the core of many epidemic diseases. Massive consumption of omega 6 from corn oil, soybean oil, safflower and sunflower oil has caused an unhealthy balance in our diet. After decades of omega 6 consumption the chickens have come home to roost. Heart disease, arthritis, obesity, diabetes and many mental disorders are all related to excessive omega 6 oil consumption.
Omega 6 to omega 3 ratio
The solution to bring these devastating diseases under control is a more healthy balance between omega 6 and omega 3. Omega 6 fatty acids are essential building blocks of our cell membranes. When the cell is attacked, for example by oxidative stress, an allergy, or a virus, the omega 6 fatty acid is released, and forms a messenger. The messengers trigger many defenses against the attack, including inflammation and pain. Omega 3 fatty acids are also an essential building block of the cell membrane, and when released they form messengers that instruct the immune system and the pain response to settle down. If the omega 6 to omega 3 ratio is out of balance, inflammation and pain become chronic with devastating disease as a result.
Omega 6 food
Omega 6 foods are bountiful to the point of excess. The problem lies in the food politics of the 1970's, when corn became heavily subsidized in the US to make all basic foods cheap. That economic goal has been accomplished, but the balance between omega 6 and 3 got lost in the process. The major omega 6 oils are:
Corn oil omega 6
Soybean Oil omega 6
Safflower oil omega 6
Sunflower oil omega 6
Corn oil is in everything: cheap farm raise fish, especially cat fish and tilapia, and sometimes even farm raise salmon, is fed corn. Fish doesn't magically make omega 3; the animal gets it from an algae diet and up the food chain. Farmed animals, whether a fish, a chicken or a cow, when raised on corn and corn oil are just that: omega 6.
Omega 6 food list
WellWise presents several food lists with their omega 6 to 3 ratio. The foods are listed from good to bad.
10 easy steps to reduce omega 6
Reading labels and remembering which foods contain omega 6 is hard to do. We have created 10 easy to remember action items that help to shift the balance back from omega 6 to omega 3. The tips include which fish to eat, which oils to use for cooking, and which oils to avoid at all time.
Omega 6 supplement reviews
WellWise has taken a critical look at the many supplements that claim health benefits from a certain optimal ratio of omega 3, 6 and 9. The FALSE idea behind these supplements is that there's an ideal ratio for supplements. Manufacturers forget to tell that they are selling supplements, and that omega 6 is the last nutritional ingredient that requires supplementation. Corn oil for example contains 46 times more omega 6 than omega 3, while the ideal ratio between 6 and 3 is 5:1. Some scientists even say it should be 1:1. With so much corn oil in our food, and significant consumption of diary and other animal fats, there is no case to be made for omega 6 supplementation.
Healthy Omega 3 balance
Krill oil, fish oil and fish, and to a limited degree flaxseed oil and canola oil, are good sources for omega 3. Krill oil has the best omega 6 to 3 ratio.
WholeFoods advertises their own private label (365 brand) canola oil as "organic". The store chain has a policy for their suppliers to be honest about GMO. That honesty obviously doesn't apply to WholeFoods themselves.
Canola oil: the good and the bad
Canola oil (originally rapeseed oil) contains up to 11% omega 3 ALA. This omega 3 is a precursor for the metabolically active omega 3 EPA and DHA. Humans are able to convert ALA to EPA and to DHA, but that conversion is very inefficient; as little as 5% of the ALA is turned into EPA and as little as 1% into DHA. In other words, to offset the massive quantities of omega 6 in corn oil, soybean, safflower, and sunflower oil, supplementation with fish oil or krill oil is needed. Krill oil has the best omega 6 to 3 ratio. While canola oil has only the lesser ALA omega 3, it still is the best alternative to corn oil and the like. Without too much flavor concessions it can replace the very toxic corn oil, and that is only good.
On the negative side it needs to be mentioned that all canola oil is genetically modified (GMO). The original rapeseed plant contains up to 46% of the harmful erucic acid. The genetically modified seeds have less than 2%, and this is within the acceptable limits set by the US government. The limits in Europe are 5%. Canola oil can be found in many processed health foods, from bread and dressings to fried vegetables, tofu and snacks. Sometimes it's even in organic health foods, even though organic products are not allowed to contain GMO products.
The second negative to canola oil is that some, albeit few, people are hyper sensitive to the oil. Their reaction is almost like an allergy, and can be very serious.
Omega 6 and vegetarians
The negatives of canola oil create a Conundrum for strict vegetarians who will find themselves in a catch 22 situation: if they consume processed foods (from snacks to prepared plates, cheeses, and eggs) they will consume massive quantities of omega 6. Without fish and without canola oil it is difficult to fathom how one gets adequate omega 3. Families on a tight budget will find themselves in a similar situation, because fish is relatively expensive and cheap foods are usually processed foods with lots of omega 6 oils.