Omega 6 is an essential fats
Omega 6 is an essential fats

Omega 6 is an essential fats

Less “popular” as Omega 3, Omega 6 fats are nevertheless essential to the human body involved in important functions, such as reproduction and the immune system.

For good cardiovascular prevention, it is important to consume a balanced way with Omega 3 and Omega 6 .

Omega 6 and sunflower oil had their heyday in the 1980s, recommended to drive cholesterol. Scientists have found that by replacing part in the diet of saturated fats (butter, cream) by Omega 6 unsaturated (oil or sunflower margarine), LDL-cholesterol (the bad that clogs the arteries) lowered .

Then the Omega 6 have been abandoned to make way for the olive oil and Omega 9 essential in the Mediterranean diet.

Finally, the researchers honored Omega 3 (rapeseed oil), good for the heart, eyes and neurons.

This is not a fad: the recommendations evolve with knowledge. Each category of fats Omega 3, 6 and 9, has interests for health. The whole being to consume balanced manner .

Why Omega 6 are essential

Omega 6 Linoleic acid (LA), or Omega 6, was discovered in 1929. It is involved in large functions such as fertility and reproduction, the immune system, the integrity of the epidermis … And as the human organism is not able to produce, we must find it in food, including sunflower, grapeseed or corn. Not to be confused with alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), the second essential fatty acid, which belongs to him to the family of Omega 3 ALA AL and intervene at their respective levels in cardiovascular prevention: while the G helps to lower bad cholesterol, ALA and its derivatives reduce platelet aggregation phenomenon, and thus participate in the prevention of formation of a thrombosis (blood clot in the arteries) .

The recommended daily intake in G is 4% of total energy intake, about 9 grams for women, 11 grams for men . Consumer studies available show that the French reach about those numbers unless they consume no or little fat of vegetable origin, oils or margarines. Where the shoe pinches is the intake of Omega 3 .

Omega 6 / Omega 3: optimize the balance

Nutritionists are alarmed at the ratio of Omega 6 and 3 in our diet. It would have almost tripled in 40 years (around 11). Both because it still uses a lot of sunflower oil, if only via that processed foods such as mayonnaise, salad dressings, prepared meals …

And because our animal foods (meat, poultry, meats, eggs and even farmed fish) are much richer in Omega 6 than in the past: the animals that were once primarily fed forage (providing Omega 3 ) now consume corn or soybean meal (rich in Omega 6).

However, although there need Omega 6, this imbalance is not good. For LA and ALA did not remain in the state in the body. Through the same enzymes, they are partially derivatized, such as leukotrienes and prostaglandins.

When these compounds are derived from Omega 6, they favor the majority inflammation, atherosclerosis (alteration of the arteries), and thrombosis.

And when they come from the Omega 3 (via the EPA and DHA), it is the opposite, they are protective of the heart.

The concern is that if we consume far more Omega 6 than Omega 3 is produced too many “bad” prostaglandins and leukotrienes (1). Another concern of scientists: an excess of Omega 6 to Omega 3 relative could contribute to the development of obesity: for the Omega 6, unlike Omega 3, stimulate the proliferation of adipocytes and once these cells are in place, they require nothing more than to fill with fat … .

According to experts, the ratio of Omega 6 and Omega 3 should not exceed 5. It is even set to 4 by the National Health Safety Food Agency, Environment and Labour (handles, former AFSSA) in its latest recommendations on lipids.

The Balanced Plate

The intake of Omega 3 ALA recommended is 1% of energy intake of 2.2 g for women, 2.7 grams for men (currently we consume barely half (4)). Simultaneous intake of Omega 3 EPA and DHA at 250 mg per day each, promotes the production of “good” prostaglandins and leukotrienes (3). Note: Omega 3 EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) are produced in small amounts by the body from ALA, or can be directly consumed.

In practice :

Since Omega 6 are rather abundant in foods, and Omega 3 significantly more rare, it is best to focus on the few fat rich in Omega 3, which also contain Omega 6:

Count 2 to 3 tablespoons daily rapeseed oil or nuts (or soy, or wheat germ, less easy to find). It can rotate as usual, cooked rapeseed oil (but not fried), walnut oil is a book believed to use (store in the bottom of the refrigerator so it does not rancid) . Sunflower oil, which has almost no Omega 3, is nevertheless recommended for further cooking (frying, for example) because it supports better heating without alteration;

If one consumes little oil, for example in the winter when there is less desire to vegetables can be compensated by a margarine labeled “rich in Omega 3” on toast, in vegetables, or cooking. These margarines, developed from a mixture of oils, simultaneously provide Omega 3 and Omega 6. Make sure they do not contain more than 1 g of trans fatty acids (a criterion quality), and what are fortified with vitamin E (which prevents Omega 3 from oxidizing). We can consider that 2 tablespoons margarine coffee substitute 1 tablespoon oil;

In addition, you can eat nuts (walnuts 3 = 33% of the recommended intake of Omega 3), and when you can buy eggs, ham, meat … obtained from animals whose diet has enriched in Omega 3 (for flax seed or alfalfa).

Finally, to meet the recommended intake of EPA and DHA: fatty fish, taking care to vary the herring, mackerel, sardines, salmon, 2 times a week.


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