Omega 3 and 6 (Sometimes referred to as N3 and N6) are spoken about a lot with reference to the Paleo diet – but just what are they – and how can you make sure you are getting the right ratio?
Omega 3 is a fatty acid which is essential in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle and reduce the risk of suffering from any chronic illnesses, such as cardiovascular and mental disease. There has been overwhelming research which has concluded that Omega 3 can help to reduce blood pressure, inflammation and can be beneficial in preventing mental illnesses such as depression. Omega 3 may not only prevent these illnesses but can also help to reduce the chances of these developing and becoming more serious.
Whilst Omega 6 has health benefits too, this fatty acid is required in far lower quantities, or it becomes detrimental.
The introduction of these fatty acids can be beneficial for people who suffer from illnesses such as arthritis as they are thought to act as an anti-inflammatory. These two fatty acids should be combined at the right ratio within the diet in order to improve health and well-being.
As the Paleo diet encourages the consumption of plenty of fish and seafood, it can really help those who follow the diet to eat a high amount of Omega 3. It is highly important within the diet to get the ratio of Omega 3 and Omega 6 right, as a good balance is an essential way to ensure these are providing the best possible benefits. It appears that by getting the ratios wrong and eating too much of the Omega 6 and too little Omega 3 can actually result in a negative effect on health.
The ratio should be around 2:1 for Omega 3: Omega 6 but many people consume far too much of Omega 6, which can be detrimental to the body. Omega 6 is found in abundance with sugar and processed foods, but is also found in nuts and butters but in much lower quantities. Clearly when following a SAD diet, laden with these processed foods, it is very easy for the N3:N6 ratio to skew heavily in favour of Omega 6. Not good. Whilst a Paleo diet is naturally going to promote a healthier ratio of these fatty acids, it is no “guaranteed”, so it is important to monitor the fats you are eating to ensure the ratio remains healthy.
There are ways to improve the ratio of both of these fatty acids, by eating foods which have a good balance between the two. Free range eggs and grass-fed meat offer a balance between both, which means they are very beneficial in improving overall health. Mono-unsaturated and saturated fats such as olive oil and coconut oil which are keenly consumed within the Paleo diet also provide a good source for both of these fatty acids and will help to keep the ratio at the proper level. You can also buy free range (often organic) eggs, which are high in Omega 3 (as the hens are fed a diet rich in these fatty acids)
We have been encouraged for some time to increase our consumption of fresh fish and seafood as they offer a wealth of benefits to the body and the main reason for this is the fact that these are rich in Omega-3. As a powerful antioxidant, Omega-3 is essential to have as part of a healthy lifestyle.
Do you monitor your Omega 3/ Omega 6 ratio? What do you do to ensure the ratios remain at a good level?