Foods High In Omega-6 You Should Avoid Eating Every Day

Many people endure the fishy burps associated with taking fish oil supplements because they know the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s, which are found in fatty fish such as salmon, can reduce inflammation and ward off chronic disease. Omega-6, which is omega-3's close cousin, is pro-inflammatory. Some inflammation is important to battle against infection, but too much inflammation isn't good for you. Therefore, it's important to find a good balance of omega-3s and omega-6s.

The Western diet tends to be overloaded with omega-6 fatty acids and low in omega-3s. According to a 2021 article in Missouri Medicine, people consume 20 times more omega-6s compared to omega-3s. This can lead to chronic inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, allergies, ulcerative colitis, and Crohn's Disease.

Nuts and seeds are good sources of omega-6 because they have a healthy ratio of omega-6 to omega-3. For example, an ounce of walnuts has an optimal omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of 4 to 1. Foods like fried onion rings have an unhealthy ratio of 20 to 1. You should avoid foods that have ingredients that have this high omega-6 to omega-3 ratio.

Ingredients that have an unhealthy omega-6 ratio

You'll find omega-6s in many types of cooking oil. Some might sound healthy, but they aren't in terms of cooling inflammation. Sunflower oil is used to make potato chips and some cookies, and it's relatively low in saturated fat. However, it has an omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of 775 to 1. Some fried foods, packaged foods, and desserts are made with soybean oil, which isn't so bad with a ratio of 7.4 to 1. However, check the ingredients for hydrogenated soybean and palm oil because these oils jack up the omega-6 ratio to 22. Corn oil has an omega-6 ratio of 45 to 1.

It might not be a surprise to know that many meats have more omega-6 to omega-3. Think about your pizza toppings. Even though a kielbasa sausage has some omega-3s, its ratio is 15 to 1. Pepperoni comes in with 22 times more omega-6, and ham has 30. Even chicken has a ratio of 23.

Balance out your omega-6 with more omega-3

You don't have to give up some of your favorite foods or ingredients if they're high in omega-6. Instead, you'll need to include more foods that are rich in omega-3. Some oils and foods have more omega-3 than omega-6, bringing their omega-6 to omega-3 ratio to less than 1. Try adding flaxseed oil to your foods to add more than 7 grams of omega-3 fatty acids and less than 2 grams of omega-6. Avoid cooking with it, however, because it can release harmful substances into your food.

Spreading an ounce of chia seeds into your yogurt or smoothie can also balance your omega-6s and omega-3s. With 5 grams of omega-3s, chia seeds have an omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of 0.33. Along with salmon, fish like tuna, mackerel, and whitefish have more omega-3s than omega-6. If you find your diet is lacking in omega-3s, you can also take an omega-3 supplement to boost your health.