Let’s face it. We all need to consume essential fatty acids to enable our bodies to function in optimal health. When consumed together, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids play a crucial role in brain function as well as normal growth and development. But did you know that our normal modern diet has dangerous proportions of Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids! These are foods which we consume everyday without a second thought.
The danger is that our diet has very high levels of Omega 6 fatty acids compared to Omega 3 fatty acids with disproportional ratios as high as 30:1. Diets rich in omega 6 fatty acids have been linked to the development of heart disease, asthma, and certain forms of cancer, arthritis and depression. So even though Omega-6 is helpful in maintaining healthy skin, hair and nails and generally helps to bring about hormonal and emotional balance; too much is not such a good thing.
Firstly it is important that we understand the need to maintaining a balance between omega 6 and omega-3 fatty acids. The best way to go about it would be to try and achieve a ratio of 1-4:1 of the omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids. That means cutting down on our already omega-6 rich diets by eating less processed and fast foods and polyunsaturated vegetable oils (corn, sunflower, canola, safflower, soy, and cottonseed). Other oils to cut out would be margarine, vegetable oil and shortening.
Secondly, we need to increase our intake of omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3 fatty acids are great for reducing inflammation and can provide protection against cardiovascular disease, arthritis, skin conditions, depression and other mood-related disorders. The best source of Omega 3 fats is oily fish; namely cold water fish such as salmon, sardines, herring, mackerel, black cod, and bluefish. That’s because the omega-3 in fish has loads of two very important fatty acids essential to human health, DHA and EPA. These two fatty acids are crucial in maintaining healthy joints and to the overall health of the circulatory system which can be precursors for arthritis. Even our brains are highly dependent on them.
Regular consumption of krill oil, cod liver oil is also recommended as it contains very high levels of the best omega 3 fatty acids and as it is in pure form, does not pose the mercury risk of fresh fish. Another very good plant substitute is salba, which is the highest source of omega 3 found in nature today and even superior in nutrition to flax and soy.
Incidentally, recent studies have shown that large amounts of flax oil have been linked to increased incidences of prostate cancer in men. High levels of the ALA omega 3 fatty acid found in flax oil seem to stimulate the growth of prostate tumors in men. So its best keep you consumption of flax oil to a minimum.
To sum it all up, our diets need to improve if we are to get the essential fatty acids we need. To get the balance right, our diet will have to include more grains, fresh fruit, vegetables and Superfood vegetables herbs like garlic. It can be as simple as changing to extra virgin oil, coconut oil or consuming grass-fed meat and natural eggs. The options are endless. Whatever you choose, it must be pure and totally free from contaminants.
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