Sue Marshall blogs about diabetes for Desang

The best ways to get enough “good” (ie, long-chain) omega-3 oils | November 3, 2009

Nutrition: Note to Self, from The Economist print edition, Oct 29th 2009:

The best ways to get enough “good” (ie, long-chain) omega-3 oils are either to eat lots of oily fish or to take, every day, supplements that contain at least 500mg of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), or docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), or both (though some studies have suggested as much as 1,100mg a day is better). Products that contain short-chain omega-3s, such as alpha-linolenic acid from plant oils like flax-seed oil, have not been linked with the strong health benefits shown by fish oils.

Having got enough long-chain oils, though, it is important to let them do their work. That means reducing consumption of omega-6 oils—those found in maize, sunflower, olive and most other seed oils. Many people have turned to these seed oils as a way of reducing their intake of saturated fats, but omega-6 fatty acids compete in the body with omega-3s, since the two have similar chemical properties. The best dietary ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 is reckoned to be less than 4:1. In Western diets, it is typically more like 10:1. The message, then, is: eat less fat and get more of it from fish. And those who buy omega-3 supplements that also contain omega-6s are probably wasting their money.

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