Optimizing Your OmegasPosted: Sep 28 in Nutrition by Staff
Omega fats are polyunsaturated fats that have many benefits. Like many of the fats the body stores and burns for energy, these fats are biologically active and play vital roles in functions such as inflammation and blood clotting. Your weight loss goals can be hampered by an imbalance in omegas.
What Are the Omegas?
The omegas you need to optimize are omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-6 fatty acids contribute to inflammation while omega-3 fatty acids serve as anti-inflammatories.
While some inflammation is good, and even necessary, for human survival, you can have too much of a good thing. An excess of inflammation can cause damage to the body and contribute to diseases. These are just a few conditions believed to be exacerbated, if not directly related to excess inflammation:
- Certain types of cancer
- Heart disease
- Metabolic syndrome
The key is in finding the right balance of omega-6 and -3 fatty acids. Unfortunately, the average American diet is heavy in omega-6 fatty acids and very light on the omega-3s.
Finding the Right Balance
One thing that’s important to remember is that moderation is the key to both omega-6 and omega-3 consumption. However, of the two, most Americans need to consume more omega-3 fatty acids and fewer omega-6 essential fatty acids in order to maintain healthier lifestyles.
In other words, it is unwise to attempt to compensate for a diet of abundant omega-6 fatty acids by simply consuming an even larger number of omega-3 fatty acids. The goal is to have a diet in which you consume a low and balanced amount of both.
Dietary Changes You Can Make
In order to achieve the proper balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in your diet, you may need to make some changes in the foods you eat and the way you prepare those foods.
Reducing Omega-6 Fatty Acids
It’s a given that prepackaged, processed, and convenience foods almost always contain some ingredients that are, if not harmful, at the very least not helpful. One of the primary culprits is soybean oil. This is one of the biggest sources of omega-6 fatty acids in the average Western diet. Removing these foods from your diet is the single most important thing you can do to lower your consumption of omega-6 fatty acids.
The second thing you can do is switch cooking oils to healthier choices. Switch from vegetable and corn oil, for instance, to olive oil, coconut oil and butter (the real deal — not margarine or spreads) for food preparation.
Increasing Omega-3 Consumption
Working more omega-3 fatty acids into your diet is equally important. You can do this by choosing grass-fed or unprocessed meat, supplements, and omega-3 enriched (or pastured) eggs.
Of course, the best source of omega-3 fatty acids is fatty fish (that’s why it’s sometimes referred to as fish oil). Wild-caught fish such as salmon is best, but some fish is better than none. You should include at least two servings of fish in your diet weekly for the best results.
The optimal ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids is 1:1. Taking steady steps in the right direction can net you significant results when it comes to weight loss, physical health, and a sense of overall well-being.