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Your body needs both Omega 3 and 6 fats. These “healthy” fats are critical for cardiovascular and neurological health. Getting enough of both is key to maintaining your health! But as with so much in life, balance seems to be key.

A new study published in eLife Journal with researchers from Cornell, University of Georgia, and others took a look into at how the ratios of these two molecules in your blood could effect your health. What they found was fascinating!

“We found that a higher omega-6 to omega-3 ratio is associated with a greater risk of dying,” said the studies lead author, Yuchen Zhang. “There is some evidence to suggest that the high omega-6 to omega-3 fats ratio typical of Western diets — 20:1 or even higher, compared to an estimated 1:1 during most of human evolution — contributes to many chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, cancer and autoimmune disorders,”

That’s right! Your body NEEDS both, but it seems critical to maintain as even of a ratio as possible!

Omega 3’s are most commonly found in fatty fish (think salmon, tuna or sardines), flaxseed, walnuts, or in an excellent supplement like our Omega-3 Complete. Omega 6’s, on the other hand, are common in nuts, seeds, corn, & soy… as well as the various oils we make from those. Those oils are what is believed to account for the MUCH higher rate of omega 6’s to omega 3’s in the blood of most Westerners.

If you’re not actively avoiding unhealthy oils while embracing cold-water fish, there’s a solid chance your ratio could be out-of-whack.

Past studies have had mixed results on the relationship between Omegas and risk of mortality as well as ASCVD risk. Most correlated higher Omega 3 levels with lower risks… but not all. There was still some “noise” in the data. That’s what convinced Zhang and team to investigate the specific balance of fats in the blood to see if that might account for the differences.

Data from over 85k people in the UK was used. After almost 13 years of follow-up, the participants with higher omega-6 to omega-3 ratios were 26% more likely to die from any cause, 14% more likely to die from cancer, and 31% more likely to die from heart disease than those with the lowest ratios.

While the researchers stressed that both 3’s and 6’s are good and necessary, they hypothesize that the anti-inflammatory effects of the 3’s serves to counteract the pro-inflammatory effects of the 6’s. That would explain why improving the balance of the two seems to make such a difference.

The bottom line is this: if you’re like most Americans, you’re probably getting plenty of Omega-6’s and not nearly enough Omega-3’s. If you want to improve your ratios, consider reducing cooking oils (stick with olive for most things), eating more cold-water fish like salmon, and taking our Omega-3 Complete!