Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids are considered essential fatty acids, which means that they are crucial for human health, but the human body is unable to produce them. Therefore, they must come from the food they eat. These acids belong to the group of 49 known, essential nutrients. Sunflower, safflower, corn oil, soybeans and cotton seeds are valuable sources of Omega-6, and fish fat, rapeseed oil and linseed oil are rich sources of Omega-3 acids.
Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids have the opposite effect – they can be attributed to the yin and yang effect. Their content in the body must be equal, because by controlling each other, they strive for balance. They allow you to regulate thousands of metabolic functions. Almost every biological function of the organism depends on this delicate balance between Omega-6 and Omega-3.
Research confirms that people have evolved using a balanced diet of Omega-6 to Omega-3; on this basis, our genetic determinants have developed. Over time, advances in agriculture and technology have allowed mass production of vegetable oils, and the use of oils rich in Omega-6 has become commonplace. This is why the modern Western diet contains an excess of Omega-6 in relation to the level of Omega-3 (studies indicate that the proportion is from 111 to 301!).
This imbalance has a huge impact on metabolism. Excess Omega-6 facilitates the spread of pathogens of many diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer, obesity, immune system diseases, rheumatoid arthritis and asthma. For comparison, an increased level of Omega-3 acids appears to have an inhibitory effect on the development of these diseases.
How to provide the body with the right proportion of essential fatty acids?
To maintain a balance between Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids, nutritionists recommend the use of a Mediterranean diet. It contains large quantities of wholegrain products, fresh vegetables and fruits, fish, oil, and garlic, and also small amounts of meat, which is a rich source of Omega-6 fatty acids. Researchers found that only the diet of the inhabitants of Crete and the traditional Greek diet resembles the diet of our distant ancestors in terms of its antioxidants, saturated fats, monounsaturated fats and the ratio of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, which in this case is close to 1 to 1.