Omega-6 overdose? How to avoid fatty acid sabotage

You probably never thought about eating too much omega-6. Omega-3 has gotten all the attention for its brain and immunity-boosting powers. Understanding omega-6's role in cell function is key to a healthy diet.

Experts explain omega-3 and omega-6, their differences, and which foods contain them. Too much omega-6 and not enough omega-3 can cause a host of health issues, including high cholesterol and heart problems.

Healthy diets include omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. "They're both essential polyunsaturated fatty acids," says Nourished founder Melissa Snover. "However, their roles differ.

Why do I need omega-3 and omega-6?

Omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and support eye, brain, nerve, and heart health. Omega-6 fatty acids support cell function and regulate our genes.

They're in many common foods. Dr. Claire Shortt, a nutritionist at FoodMarble, says omega-3 is found in oily fish, seeds, nuts, eggs, and avocado. "Omega-6-rich foods include safflower oil, sunflower oil, corn oil, soybean oil, sunflower seeds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, pork, beef, and chicken."

While omega-6 is healthy, don't overdo it. Dr. Shortt says too much omega-6 can inhibit omega-3 metabolism and cause inflammation. This inflammation can cause high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and heart problems.

Why is omega-6 too much?

Before cutting back on omega-6 fatty acids, experts suggest a better approach. Dr. Shortt recommends adding omega-3. "Because omega-6 is in many commonly eaten foods, we consume more unconsciously.

How should omega-6 be eaten?

To strike an ideal balance of eating foods with 'healthy' fats, it is important to try and prioritize incorporating more omega-3 into your diet by eating foods like leafy greens, oily fish and walnuts.

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