Everyone and their brother is on the omega-3 bandwagon lately. If you are not taking an omega-3 fatty acid supplement yourself, I bet you know someone who is. Many people have been trying to increase their omega 3 fatty acid intake to get the health benefits this essential fat offers, however not everyone realizes that the other essential fatty acids, omega-6’s needs some attention as well.
Our new Food As Medicine program at Green Mountain at Fox Run focuses quite a bit on eating to reduce inflammation in the body. Omega-3 fatty acids play an important role in helping to decrease inflammation. However, what’s key to getting the anti-inflammatory effect is changing the BALANCE of omega-3 to omega-6 in your diet. If you increase the omega-3’s while simultaneously increasing omega-6’s (such as taking a omega 3-6-9 supplement) you may not be getting a benefit, since the balance of 3’s to 6’s hasn’t changed. Many need to increase their omega-3 intake and decrease their omega-6 intake.
Most people know where to find omega-3’s but are less familiar with which foods are high in omega-6 fatty acids. Monika Woolsey, MS, RD, a nationally recognized registered dietitian/exercise physiologist who specializes in PCOS leads our LIVING WELL™ Learning to Thrive with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) program at Green Mountain. Monika’s tip for locating oils high in omega-6 fatty acids is to be on the look out for oils that start with the letter “C” or “S” (with the exception of canola oil). Corn, soybean, cottonseed, sunflower, safflower, and sesame oils are sources of omega-6’s.
I tend to focus on reducing processed foods and grain-fed meats to decrease our intake of corn and soybean derived fats. The next time you get a chance, take a look at the ingredient list of any pre-made foods you purchase to identify the types of oils used in making that product. It’s very likely that corn and/or soybean oil will show up. Moving away from processed foods, eating more fish, and less grain-fed animals will help to improve the balance of omega-3 fatty acids to omega-6 fatty acids in your intake.
Do a little label reading and let me know what you find! I’m always looking for salad dressings, mayo, and crackers that don’t have corn or soybean oil.