How too much omega-6 and not enough omega-3 is making us sick


In the last article we discussed the problems humans have converting omega-3 (n-3) fats from plant sources, such as flax seeds and walnuts, to the longer chain derivatives EPA and DHA. Since EPA and DHA (especially DHA) are responsible for the benefits omega-3 fats provide, and since EPA and DHA are only available in significant amounts in seafood, it follows that we should be consuming seafood on a regular basis.

But how much is enough? What does the research literature tell us about the levels of EPA and DHA needed to prevent disease and ensure proper physiological function?

I’m going to answer this question in detail in the next article. But before I do that, I need to make a crucial point: the question of how much omega-3 to eat depends in large part on how much omega-6 we eat.

Over the course of human evolution there has been a dramatic change in the ratio of omega-6 and omega-3 fats consumed in the diet. This change, perhaps more than any other dietary factor, has contributed to the epidemic of modern disease.

The historical ratio of omega-6 to omega-3

Throughout 4-5 million years of hominid evolution, diets were abundant in seafood and other sources of omega-3 long chain fatty acids (EPA & DHA), but relatively low in omega-6 seed oils.

Anthropological research suggests that our hunter-gatherer ancestors consumed omega-6 and omega-3 fats in a ratio of roughly 1:1. It also indicates that both ancient and modern hunter-gatherers were free of the modern inflammatory diseases, like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, that are the primary causes of death and morbidity today.

At the onset of the industrial revolution (about 140 years ago), there was a marked shift in the ratio of n-6 to n-3 fatty acids in the diet. Consumption of n-6 fats increased at the expense of n-3 fats. This change was due to both the advent of the modern vegetable oil industry and the increased use of cereal grains as feed for domestic livestock (which in turn altered the fatty acid profile of meat that humans consumed).

The following chart lists the omega-6 and omega-3 content of various vegetable oils and foods:

efa content of oils

Vegetable oil consumption rose dramatically between the beginning and end of the 20th century, and this had an entirely predictable effect on the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats in the American diet. Between 1935 and 1939, the ratio of n-6 to n-3 fatty acids was reported to be 8.4:1. From 1935 to 1985, this ratio increased to 10.3:1 (a 23% increase). Other calculations put the ratio as high as 12.4:1 in 1985. Today, estimates of the ratio range from an average of 10:1 to 20:1, with a ratio as high as 25:1 in some individuals.

In fact, Americans now get almost 20% of their calories from a single food source – soybean oil – with almost 9% of all calories from the omega-6 fat linoleic acid (LA) alone! (PDF)

This reveals that our average intake of n-6 fatty acids is between 10 and 25 times higher than evolutionary norms. The consequences of this dramatic shift cannot be overestimated.

Omega-6 competes with omega-3, and vice versa

As you may recall from the last article, n-6 and n-3 fatty acids compete for the same conversion enzymes. This means that the quantity of n-6 in the diet directly affects the conversion of n-3 ALA, found in plant foods, to long-chain n-3 EPA and DHA, which protect us from disease.

Several studies have shown that the biological availability and activity of n-6 fatty acids are inversely related to the concentration of of n-3 fatty acids in tissue. Studies have also shown that greater composition of EPA & DHA in membranes reduces the availability of AA for eicosanoid production. This is illustrated on the following graph, from a 1992 paper by Dr. William Landis:

percentage of n-6 and n-3 in tissue associated with

The graph shows the predicted concentration of n-6 in the tissue based on dietary intake of n-3. In the U.S. the average person’s tissue concentration of highly unsaturated n-6 fat is 75%. Since we get close to 10% of our calories from n-6, our tissue contains about as much n-6 as it possibly could. This creates a very inflammatory environment and goes a long way towards explaining why 4 in 10 people who die in the U.S. each year die of heart disease. (Note: the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 matters, but so does the total amount of each.)

In plain english, what this means is that the more omega-3 fat you eat, the less omega-6 will be available to the tissues to produce inflammation. Omega-6 is pro-inflammatory, while omega-3 is neutral. A diet with a lot of omega-6 and not much omega-3 will increase inflammation. A diet of a lot of omega-3 and not much omega-6 will reduce inflammation.

Big Pharma is well aware of the effect of n-6 on inflammation. In fact, the way over-the-counter and prescription NSAIDs (ibuprofen, aspirin, Celebres, etc.) work is by reducing the formation of inflammatory compounds derived from n-6 fatty acids. (The same effect could be achieved by simply limiting dietary intake of n-6, as we will discuss below, but of course the drug companies don’t want you to know that. Less profit for them.)

As we discussed in the previous article, conversion of the short-chain n-3 alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), found in plant foods like flax and walnut, to DHA is extremely poor in most people. Part of the reason for that is that diets high in n-6 LA inhibit conversion of ALA to DHA. For example, one study demonstrated that an increase of LA consumption from 15g/d to 30g/d decreases ALA to DHA conversion by 40%.

Death by vegetable oil

So what are the consequences to human health of an n-6:n-3 ratio that is up to 25 times higher than it should be?

The short answer is that elevated n-6 intakes are associated with an increase in all inflammatory diseases – which is to say virtually all diseases. The list includes (but isn’t limited to):

  • cardiovascular disease
  • type 2 diabetes
  • obesity
  • metabolic syndrome
  • irritable bowel syndrome & inflammatory bowel disease
  • macular degeneration
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • asthma
  • cancer
  • psychiatric disorders
  • autoimmune diseases

The relationship between intake n-6 fats and cardiovascular mortality is particularly striking. The following chart, from an article entitled Eicosanoids and Ischemic Heart Disease by Stephan Guyenet, clearly illustrates the correlation between a rising intake of n-6 and increased mortality from heart disease:

landis graph of hufa and mortality

As you can see, the USA is right up there at the top with the highest intake of n-6 fat and the greatest risk of death from heart disease.

On the other hand, several clinical studies have shown that decreasing the n-6:n-3 ratio protects against chronic, degenerative diseases. One study showed that replacing corn oil with olive oil and canola oil to reach an n-6:n-3 ratio of 4:1 led to a 70% decrease in total mortality. That is no small difference.

Joseph Hibbeln, a researcher at the National Institute of Health (NIH) who has published several papers on n-3 and n-6 intakes, didn’t mince words when he commented on the rising intake of n-6 in a recent paper:

The increases in world LA consumption over the past century may be considered a very large uncontrolled experiment that may have contributed to increased societal burdens of aggression, depression and cardiovascular mortality.

And those are just the conditions we have the strongest evidence for. It’s likely that the increase in n-6 consumption has played an equally significant role in the rise of nearly every inflammatory disease. Since it is now known that inflammation is involved in nearly all diseases, including obesity and metabolic syndrome, it’s hard to overstate the negative effects of too much omega-6 fat.

In the next article we’ll discuss three different methods for determining healthy intakes of n-3 that take background intake of n-6 into account.

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Comments Join the Conversation

  1. Marie says

    In Chris’ other article “how-much-omega-3-is-enough-that-depends-on-omega-6″, you might notice in the comments my frustration that Chris says one thing, and then if you look far down in the comments, he says that he is changing his opinion since he wrote these articles.

    If his opinion is changing then he should change or pull the articles or at minimum, put a little note at the top of each one, stating which points his opinions are evolving since the article was written.

    He pushes everyone in one direction. It’s only the people who troll through all the comments that find out that even he doesn’t entirely believe what he says.

    You can particularly see this in the discussion of damaged omega 6s vs healthy whole food omega 6s, olive oil, etc.

    He seems to write these sensational headlines which pulls people researching the topic to his site and then only a few people find out that in reality doesn’t fully believe everything he has written.

    Just for further reference, here is a quote from Chris which is buried deep in the comments below, that I believe should be put added as a new addendum note at the top of his articles
    “omega 6 in their natural state most often are found beneficial. e.g. look at the studies with nuts , almost every study finds benefits of nut consumption, and most nuts are much higher in omega 6 than omega 3.
    most studies that found omega 6 are harmfull, are done with damaged omega 6, which are added to various foods, spreads etc. These omega 6 are heated, partially hydrogenized, so no wonder their consumption is associated is with diseases. However, omega 6 in their natural state most often are found beneficial.
    IÕve changed my view somewhat on omega-6 from natural sources since writing this article. I think itÕs somewhat unlikely that n-6 from walnuts would cause harm, and of course nuts and seeds have health benefits as you pointed out. Walnuts are also quite high in n-3, which probably explains their effect on arterial flexibility.
    Yes, there is quite a bit of conflicting research on the n-6:n-3 ratio. I may need to revise this article based on what IÕve been reading lately, but the jury is still out.”

    It must be tough to keep articles current. A quick addendum note added at the top of the article would be more fair to readers and do the job.

    • Matthew says

      Thanks Mary.

      I completely agree. The lack of management from this perspective leads to confusion and worst-case poor decisions.

      It is a serious problem for authors like Chris who write about complex topics that are in flux with changing knowledge.

      Even your solution has its own issues. It would be ideal to have a “live” document which allows one to understand the current position of the author, with the ability to see the historical evolution.

      Unfortunately, I think Chris’s most prolific work was during his education. Now that he practices, he no longer has the time to be as effective and present in this community.

      • Marie says

        Thanks for your thoughts.

        It’s frustrating to do all this reading and then after digging deep down in the comments find out, oops ….. all this is slightly wrong.

        • Marie says

          Here’s an article pointing to recent studies showing that over concern on the 3-6 hypothesis isn’t completely right.

          I am not a scientist but I have a common sense gut feel that the comments below stating they have to cut out healthy foods rich in omega 6 because they need to reduce this value to get some theoretical balance right just doesn’t pass the smell test for me and in a few years science will say oops… and go the other way again.

          For example, some comments below are getting deep into the math and talking about cutting out nuts, which I think are very good for you. Also other things like modest amount of avocado.

          I believe the problem is mainly with damaged seed oils at high heat and feeding grain to animals that eat grass, which are obviously unhealthy.

          I believe people should keep eating healthy omega 6 foods in reasonable amounts.

  2. Matthew says

    Seems like a moderator needs to step in and shut Dr. Jeff down. This is the problem with non-moderated posting. Now every person that visits this page will conflate Kresser’s hard earned reputation with this ass-clowns dubious product.

    Dr. Jeff, please provide a link to:

    1. Definitive studies which have established which isomer(s) of 18:2 linoleic acid are the holy grail of health.

    2. The evidence that your product actually contains the “magical” unadulterated form(s) of linoleic acid that we so desperately need.

    Also, why doesn’t the omega 6 content of cold pressed high quality oils like EVOO and canola oil etc. adequately meet our dietary needs?

    My favorite sucker line on your site….. “Fact: Oxygen turns oil rancid” Lol.

    I must admit, you have invested virtually nothing in your website (and I would be willing to bet in your actual product), but have managed to craft enough language to convince a gullible person that the garbage you are hawking actually has any value. There is a special place in hell for people of your ilk.

    I suggest to anyone reading this thread that this is a complex topic which requires a great deal of effort to even begin to understand.

    For example, there is a evidence that the ratio of omega 6/3 may not matter for those who have a diet rich in pre-made EPA/DHA (fish).

    You can start with the following link.

    Now learn how to use Google. It is your friend. Go check out someone like Stephan Guynet’s site and read what he has to say about polyunsaturated fats.

    Then Google Dr. Jeff Matheson and check out what he has to say about polyunsaturated fats. You will notice that there is nothing of substance. Just marketing material. Quite embarrassing.

    Consider this a valuable lesson in critical thinking in the age of the internet.

    • says

      Well to answer question 1, I would hope your biochemistry background taught you that only the cis,cis form of LA exists in natural substances, as to question 2, the process is a patented, cold-pressed process done under a nitrogen blanket to ensure non-oxidized product. Every batch is tested for per-oxidization.

      The topic is less complex than you think if you realize that 95% of LA stays in its native form and is incorporated directly into cell membranes, they do not go down the fatty acid pathways. It’s the big picture versus the small picture story here. We’ve been inundated with pathway features of fatty acid metabolism, failing to realize that’s it’s a small component of what cells do.

      Cold pressed canola is certainly available but it is a GMO product and EVOO is an Omega-9 product, containing little of the 2 essential fatty acids.

      And I’ve never said the ratio is most important, the sourcing is most important.

      If you are going to make comments on this board, you are free to do so but get your science correct.

      • Matthew says

        Here is a little lesson in science Jeff:

        1. Your statement that cold pressed canola is a gmo product is a certifiably false. 1 TEASPOON of the following will provide 839 milligrams of cis-cis form LA for 10 pennies.

        2. In order to get the equivalent amount of LA from your supplementary product you would have to take 4 capsules at the grand total price of 2 dollars, assuming you were on the subscription plan.

        3. 10 Cents versus 2 dollars, how does that calculate in the world of “science”?

        4. Heck, 1 ounce of steam treated California almonds give you everything you need with 3.5 grams of LA.

        5. You did not address my 2nd question. I don’t care about your “magical” patented process. Give the readers here a link to the evidence that a reputable 3rd party has verified that your product does indeed contain ~100% pure cis-cis LA.

        Class dismissed,

        • says

          From the Canola Council of Canada It explicitly states that canola is a GMO product. “Canola was developed using traditional plant breeding techniques, so it was not developed using biotechnology. However, about 80% of the canola grown in Canada has now been modified using biotechnology to make it tolerant to some herbicides. Using these specific herbicides has reduced the amount of chemical needed for weed control in the fields”

          The rest of your points are not relevant as most oils are heat processed, destroying their Omega content. All one has to do is try it.

          The product is tested by Health Canada and has an NPN number, which is not a requirement in the USA.

          • Matthew says

            I am a software developer with a degree in Biochemistry. I have zero financial interest in anything except my own software company.

            Spectrum’s canola oil is cold pressed and non-GMO certified.

            Steam treated almonds are just one of many natural whole foods which more than provide our daily requirement of LA. It is far cheaper than your supplement, and it is a whole food. You do not refute this, because you can’t.

            Again, and this is getting repetitive, please provide a link from Health Canada or any reputable 3rd party which provides a verifiable analysis of the content of your supplement.

            I think it is pretty telling that the only thing apparent from your nutrition label is that 2 capsules contains 2 grams of fat.

            How do you sleep at night?

            • says

              It is hard to have a cogent discussion with you as you already have an opinion, but yes almonds are a good source of Omega’s in the right ratio, too bad California where most of them come from is going dry. And don’t heat them, it damages the fats.

              BTW, my patients who do supplement sleep much better than before.

              I hope the world is a better place because of your software and I bet you do not give it away for free.

        • says

          BTW, if it is cold pressed, how do they deactivate the myrosinase enzyme which creates toxic products as a defines against herbivores? Usually the canola seeds are cooked to prevent this, which would damage the Omega content. I tell all my patients to avoid canola oil but maybe there is something I don’t know.

        • says

          BTW, if it is cold pressed, how do they deactivate the myrosinase enzyme which creates toxic products as a defence against herbivores? Usually the canola seeds are cooked to prevent this, which would damage the Omega content. I tell all my patients to avoid canola oil but maybe there is something I don’t know.

  3. penelope says

    I don’t know if anyone is reading these old comments, least of all, Chris, but I have been abstaining from nuts seeds grains and legumes (AIP for SLE) for 3-4 years now and have been having a recurrence of at times, severe eczema. It suddenly dawned on me that I might be needing *some* Omega 6. It is an *essential* fatty acid after all. So I would love to hear an informed opinion on this and a suggestion of what would be the best way to bring a little Omega 6 back into my diet to see if that helps my eczema.

    • says

      Omega-6 is far more important than you think, that’s why it’s essential and it is exactly the 18 carbon, plant based one you are currently excluding in your diet. Eczema is the result of this as there is no Omega-3 in the skin, it is all Omega-6. I supplement with it (click on my name for website) but there are lots of ways to get it, just make sure you avoid the processed oils that kill the Omega-6, canola, soy and corn oils are the worst.

      • penelope says

        Thanks Jeff

        I’m in Australia so easier to get some oils here. But I appreciate your input. I don’t know why I didn’t think of this much sooner! What does your “Dr” stand for? What Kind of doctor are you?

  4. Victor says

    I recently read an article about the multiple benefits and uses for coconut oil. It also indicated 4 oils to avoid, specifically canola, rapeseed, sunflower, and safflower I believe. It exposed the dangers of utilizing these other oils. Are you aware of this article and could you help me locate it. I feel it would be great beneficial to our readers as well. Thank you.

    • Sally says

      Yes, Omega 6 is important. We just need a balance between Omega-6 and Omega-3. There is also one Omega-6 (GLA) that is anti-inflammatory and benefits skin. Try taking a GLA supplement from Borage seed oil or Evening Primrose oil.

  5. Janet says

    Hi Chris
    My husband and I are looking at formula milk for babies and they all seem to have omega 3 & 6 in them. We are concerned about the omega 6. Is it dangerous in later life and will we be putting our children at risk of heart disease due to the intake of omega 6 ?

    • says

      Hold on there, the essential Omega-6 is the 18 carbon, plant based version and is NOT dangerous but ESSENTIAL. Do not underfeed your child essential Omega-6, that is highly dangerous. Just google Omega-6 deficiencies and you will see how important it is for humans.

      • Stian Bjøntegaard says

        Omega 6 is not bad for you, if it isn’t prosessed too much, – it is in almost everything you eat anyway, so no need to stress much about it, one way or another. But making sure your omega 3 intake is good enough, is crusial. In your case, no need to worry.

  6. Susan says

    I noticed in one of your comments you recommend to stay away from statins. I have hypothyroidism and my cholesterol normally runs between 300 and 400. After taking the statins it has come down to below 200. Can my cholesterol be controlled by diet alone? I am now worried about what the statins may be doing to my body.

    • Azar says

      You are holding the rope of the journey that will get you to old ages that you will be having ten medications ( the least numbers) at the breakfast table. Let go of that rope and start the journey of make yourself healthy with traditional approach that was natural. One place to start is

  7. Debbie Whitt says

    I take 1200 mg a day of Evening Primrose Oil. It completely gets rid of my fibercystic breast pain. Is it doing me harm? Also my son has Pyroluria disorder and is recommended he take 2000 mg of Omega 6 daily for the disorder. Can you advise on this subject?

    Thank you.

    • says

      The daily dose of unadulterated Omega-6 should be 3000 mg a day. Your son will come to no harm and you can safely increase your dose.

  8. says

    I am so confused. I have many problems from NF 1, high b/p, arthiritis, a 3x cancer survivor and now IBS. Recently read an article about the benefits of Hemp Oil. I got myself some and it contains 185mg Omega-3, 535mg Omega- 6 & 105mg Omega-9 (9?). Please advise, after reading all of these things I’m wondering if I just wasted my $$ and just throw it in the trash!!

    • says

      You have not wasted your money. The Omega ratio in hemp oil is correct, although hemp is not usually used in the diet. The Omega-9 is of no consequence. From what I’ve read, it is safe and could be very effective and well worth trying. You need at least 3 grams a day of the Omega-6, so take 6 doses a day, see what happens.

      • says

        THANKS, I’ll do that. The IBS makes it almost impossible for me to eat right. My GP has me on D3 because my blood work showed I was very low, and he did comment that even though CHOL levels seemed fine, my TRIG levels seem to be slowly creeping up. He had nothing to offer but seeing a dietician. I get an annual checkup @ NIH sometime the end of June; they rarely are interested in these kind of supplements…but I have been feeling so tired and run down…I want back in the game! So if you’re interested in how this plays out, I’ll keep you posted.

        • says

          I’ll be very interested. If you have IBS, I hope you’re gluten and dairy free (except butter is usually ok). Keep away from those statin medications as well, they cause havoc with muscles, brain function and your entire hormonal cascade (vitD3 is, in fact a hormone)

          • Stian Bjøntegaard says

            Thanks for being a Doc, and advicing against things like Statins. Some drugs are really horrible and unneccesary!

        • Stian Bjøntegaard says

          Hemp oil is a very good oil, not so much for the ala, but the gla. Some Ala is good, but as the convertion rate are poor at best, I would say the gla in hemp oil are more beneficial to you, when it comes to balance the fatty acids. Personally, I use a fishoil oliveoil mix, where the protection of the fat acids is being taken care of by polyphenols. Further, I sometimes take a bit of hempoil, – mixing it together with dark chocolate in my mouth – for the epicatetchin. One supplement on top of this provides me with quite a lot of more polyphenols, some vitamines and minerals, and something called beta-clucans. My diet and exersice regime are not regular or ideally in any respect, but my health at my age of 47 seem to be good for my age. Tests of cholestrol, triglycerids, fatty acid balance, confirms what I feel. I have strong faith that I will not be a very good customer of big pharma. Best of luck and health! Stian

  9. Johan Linden says

    Can anyone present som hard-to-argue-with logics why there has to be a 2:1 ratio of omega-3 to omega-6?

    For be that just sounds plain stupid. So far no one has ever provided evidence good enough for everyone to fall for this so called fact.

  10. says

    You can find these fats in a variety of sources, including spinach, mustard greens, wheat germ, walnuts, flaxseed (and flaxseed oil), soybean and canola oil, and even pumpkin seeds. But the very best source is fish.

    • says

      That is actually not true, fish have 20 and 22 carbon fatty acids (mostly Omega-3) which are derivatives, soybean and canola are highly processed and adulterated and should never be eaten. The others are sources of 18 carbon Essential Fatty Acids Omega-3 and Omega-6 (and other non-essential fatty acids).

      • Chris says

        And, yet, just because rapeseed has to be processed does not, in an of itself, make canola oil just as awful as corn or safflower oil. If (the other) Chris’ data is correct here, Canola oil emerges as more balanced than most vegetable oils, although I suspect it still is not as good of a choice as olive oil.

        Nobody should be cooking with any vegetable oils, even olive oil: coconut oil and butter are far better choices, so is lard and tallow!! The former also have to be “processed”…but we just call that “churning” with butter 😉

        Getting omega3:6 ratio down to 1:1 (which is likely optimum) is very tough in our food environment, but not impossible. I just don’t see the need in villifying almost every single oil on the market: I think it ignores other aggravating circumstances, like excessive consumption of sugar, highly processed grains (and wheat of any processing level), and even too much consumption of carbohydrates in general (especially for the insulin resistant among us).

      • says

        Dr. Jeff

        I was given this article which I find very interesting. So, I was a big believer that we need healthy Omega 3’s. So I purchased organic Omega 3’s. Then I met Dr. Matheson who represents . He was telling me, that our body needs Omega 6’s. He claims we need more Omega 6 than Omega 3’s. He went further and stated that many manufacturing company’s are pushing Omega 3 consumption because it brings in profits. You can view his website and information from the link above. He claims we are not getting the proper amount of organic Omega 6’s.
        What is your take on this?

        Thank you!

        • says

          Hi Philip, it appears you are asking me to comment on myself, which, I admit, has never happened before. The real answer lies in how you feel and your performance taking the “right stuff” versus the “fish stuff”. Your body will give you the right answer.

  11. mark says

    Hello everyone. I would just like to ask if walnuts are an acceptable source of omega 3’s in our diet? I have seen comments about conversion of ALA, DHA and EPA and I am not sure what to do? I know Chris mentioned on another thread about reviewing his thoughts about walnuts and omega 6 as the omega 6’s were in a more natural form and not processed, so I guess it’s just the conversion rate I am ‘concerned’ with. I am reluctant to go anywhere near fish/seafood because of the pollutants in our oceans and grass fed meat is too expensive for me (I also can’t be sure about lamb anymore as I read even this meat is not guaranteed to be 100% grass fed) Any help/advice would be much appreciated,
    thank you,

    • Stian Bjøntegaard says

      I think the benefits from eating seafood or fishoil by far outweights the drawback of pollutants, but I believe one should look for good quality products with low numbers of such pollutants.

  12. Aviel says

    Hi Chris. You claim that “omega-6 is pro-inflammatory” but I don’t see how you support this with studies. You do provide studies that indicate that the more n-3 we consume, the less n-6 fatty acids we have in our tissues but what about the inflammatory effect? How do you prove this assertion? I would appreciate if you take a look at the following paper. It’s a systematic review of no less than 15 randomized control trials on the effect of omega-6 on markers of inflammation and the conclusion is that there’s no evidence that omega-6 causes inflammation. Does this paper change your mind? Can we say now that this whole omega-6 scare if just a myth?

    • says

      Been saying this for years, all this nonsense about Omega-6 being bad is ridiculous. It is an ESSENTIAL Fatty Acid, we require it in large amounts. It is the processing that kills it, not the Omega-6 itself. Thank you for the article, I missed it in my readings somehow.

      • Johan Linden says

        Jeff, I followed your writings in this thread. Very interesting stuff. Thanks for spreading the word.

        It would be interesting if some big paleo name would dare to answer you on this one.

  13. Caroline Michelle says

    Hi Chris & co! I was wondering about my avocado craving (and sometimes binging!)… Normally I eat one avocado per day, just before taking my onehour morning walk on an otherwise empty stomach. But somedays the avocados are small and my hunger big so then I eat two before I go. And somedays I eat one in the afternoon as a snack. To sum up, there can be days when I eat four avocado. But the “normal” is two or three. However I eat herring every day, at least 200 grams, so I thought this might balance up… What’s your take on this? Cheers, Caroline

    • Caroline Michelle says

      Ps I forgot to say I don’t eat any seed oils. I’m on a 100 % paleo diet since five years. Thanks!

  14. says

    Dear Chris Kresser and other lovely members of that topic.

    I read this topic and went through all the comments.
    There are already so many things you do and believe. So many of you using different products and different diet. Discuss about so many articles and different problems you have.

    But seriously. There are easy way to make a simple dry blood-spot test for home sample collection which identifies levels of 11 fatty acids in the blood with 98% certainty. You will learn your blood levels of omega-3 and your ratio of omega 6:3 for balance, plus receive report to increase your health and dietary awareness. So you will get easy & correct answer. Does the product or diet you are using, gives you the results you are looking for.
    If I encourage you, Mr. Kresser, and all others who are looking for answers to accept this opportunity would you be willing to know how to make it?

    • Stian Bjøntegaard says

      I did just that, – one dry blood test, and got answers. I was not too bad, because I am generally interested in what I put in my mouth, but my ratio was about 6:1. I have made second test, waiting for result. Exiting to monitor the effects of what you eat, both food and supplements.

  15. mhikl says

    Too little Omega-6 seems also to be a problem for me. I was getting none, or as little to that as possible. My oils came from fish, bovine, home rendered lard, and coconut oil. I supplemented for a while with Flax seed oil and then stopped, about seven months ago.

    My eczema (adult onset, age 55) became rampant a little over three months ago. The skin from my elbows and knees down, fell off.* The itch, dryness and sting was merciless. I was forced to return to chemicals but I used them sparingly for about ten days to get control. Then I stopped. (I would like to add that I mixed the cream 1-to-7 parts water. Shaking it thickened and I was able to apply very little cream extremely thinly. The rest of the container sits in the fridge for the next emergency.)
    * I water fasted 31 days over the winter holidays with no improvements to my skin. In early January I gave in and visited an MD.

    Now, with the addition of Sunflower oil and the re-addition of some Flax and chia seeds, and flax oil, my skin is improving. I use it on my skin and I imbibe it raw.

    I have quite a complex formula including full spectrum oils, MSM, Vitamin C and a small amount of alcohol, both of which are said to stimulate or enhance MSM; along with vitamins, minerals & other supplements recommended for the skin. I homogenise everything together with water in my juicer. I apply the oily mixture over every centimetre of my skin, and I also imbibe the same mix of supplements with my two daily paleo meals. The change has been spectacular; after almost four months of pain, this concoction has improved my skin considerably with noticeable improvements daily. Note: I also bath twice a day, after each meal, and then pat dry and immediately apply my concoction. My meals are designed to be skin enhancing using every possible skin beneficiary.

    Compared to other guys my age, 64, I have good skin, other than the problem of eczema, and very few wrinkles; but this could be due to genetics & diet.

    I suspect there is no one magic formula that works for all. Stress is also a definite factor in my skin problem: my stress comes from my eczema—they feed upon each other.
    Namaste and care,

  16. george manzuk says

    I’ve been scanning this blog for a couple hours and would like to make a comment. Approximately 15 years ago, small fatty deposits, (lipomas ?) began to form on the inside of my skin, mostly on my face. The only way i could remove them was to take a pointed knife or object and dig them out. I did this for a few years but they always returned. As a confirmed type 2 diabetic, my right eye had developed slight retinopathy and my legs below my knees began to feel cold even in warm weather. I struggle continually to maintain normal A1C and bg levels.

    A well known biochemist, whose name I cannot recall, recommended fish oil as a viable treatment for type 2 diabetics. He apparently, in co-ordination with medical personnel, successfully treated diabetic patients whose legs and feet were in various stages of necropsy and neuropathy.

    I began a daily regiment of 2000 mg fish oil a day for about 8-10 years and still use about 1000 mg a day. After a few years of fish oil, the fatty deposits completely disappeared; no more cold legs. My retinopathy has remained unchanged. There have been other beneficial results.

    Well, this hardly constitutes a scientific study, from a dietary and exercise view, fish oil is the only real change i have made in the past 15 years. At 70 years, I am often told I look 50. Recently, during an ultrasound examination of my legs, (checking for a blood clot which turned out to be a staph infection) I was told my veins appeared to be in very good condition. Fish oil to me appears to have remarkable medicinal value.

    • Marisa says

      Hello George, thank you so much for making the post about Fish oils as a possible lipoma cure. If it’s ok with you I’d like to copy and paste your post on a lipoma blog to give the members something to research further. I’ve heard that fermented cod liver oil is supposed to be excellent. If you get a moment, could you let us know how many years before the fatty deposits resolved? You say ‘after a few years’, would this be about 3 years? Thanks again.

    • Marisa says

      George, when you took 2,000 mg of fish oil a day, was that the amount of fish oil in the capsules, or was it 2,000 mg of DHA and EPA. From what I understand 1,000 mg of fish oil contains around 300 mg of DHA and 200 mg of EPA.

      Hence, I wondered if the 2,000 mg you took was fish oil, or the omega 3 content. Thanks. And I’m glad you’re in good health. Long may it continue.

      • Paul Catherall says

        Hi Marisa

        Here in the UK you would expect at least a combined 600mg per 1,000 capsule. A common one is 950mg per 1,360 capsule. A great practictioner with a couple of decades of dosage knowledge is Dr Barry Sears (of OmegaRX Zone fame). His maintenance dose is 2.5 grams of EPA+DHA combined (ratio 2:1). My concern with high doses is to stick to fish oils of a pharaceutical grade also NOT fish liver oils as these will have too much vitamin A. This is why I wrote this to you. It does not have to be guess work as you are seeking to have your Eicosanoid hormone system in balance and you can get a blood test to see where you are with omega 3 levels (also relative to omega 6 ) and then judge if you need to start with a higher dose, re-test and then go to the maintenance dose.

        • m says

          Thanks Paul. I had no idea about the maintenance dose of omega 3s. I’ve been trying to self-educate on nutrition and health for 7 years now and feel I’m just chipping away at the tip of an iceberg. I’ll heed your caution about excess Vitamin A. Thanks again.

        • Stian Bjøntegaard says

          Since you are from the UK, you may also be familiar with the work of Dr. Paul Clayton, which also advocates the importance of omega 3’s, and the balance. In addition to that, he speaks highly of polyphenols and beta-glucans. His books about these subjects are fascinating.

  17. jackie says

    I am taking Nordic naturals Complete omega and also 2 pills of evening primrose oil. Do you think Im getting too much 6? I eat a good diet w/ only oil oilve but do eat alot of Sunbutter, would that also be high in 6? I am trying to fix inflammation with my joints and my scalp.

    • says

      Why Nordic Naturals? You don’t need fish fatty acids. The evening primrose oil is great. You can’t get too much Omega-6, we need and use lots of it, we need far less Omega-3, but it needs to be the 18 carbon version from plant sources, not the 20 and 22 carbon versions from fish.

      • Paul Catherall says

        Dear Dr Jeff
        Thank you for your comments. There are several different biochemical processes involved in your comments. Rather than choosing between omega 3 and 6 ratio and damaged / processed nutrient intake, both are important. Key processes are artificial trans fats, oxidised cholesterol, and omega 3 and 6. I would also add high sugar and high insulin. My reading agrees with the dangers of oxidised small dense LDL cholesterol which causes an immune response in arteries. Oxidised cholesterol can be consumed but it is also more likely to happen with excess sugar in the body as this glycates or damages the protein outer shell making it more prone to oxidation. The omega 3 and 6 and artificial trans fats is all about Eicosanoids which are the oldest hormone system of the body and the ‘command and control’ centre of the immune system. These vital hormones can only be made from long chain omega 3 and 6’s. We need both those made by omega 6 and omega 3. But too much omega 6 relative to omega 3 leads to too many of the pro inflammatory ones. Also two classes of Eicosanoid hormones called Resolvins and Protectin are made from long chain omega 3’s. Just google Harvard Medical School Resolvins for the centre of excellence on this. Many many drugs act on the Eicosanoid hormone system, it is well studied. Also conversion of short chained omega 3 (plant derived) is inefficient outside of the range of 6months old and child bearing age, hence breast milk is so rich in long chained omega 3. The Eicosanoid production is also messed up by artificial trans fats and by high insulin (sugar and carbohydrate intake). If the human studies also listed participants on drugs affecting the Eicosanoid system, (including statins) those overweight hence not balancing their insulin, and those eating artificial trans fats, then you would have great data to analyse. The biochemistry however is clear. Learn to eat without spiking your insulin, avoid artificial trans fats then the fish oils will work properly, and there is a great by-product – weight control.

        • says

          That’s great but in real day to day terms, isn’t it better to put the 2 essential fatty acids in at the top of the cascade as mother nature intended and let the body balance itself, rather than forcing the issue with excessive amounts of derivatives that participate much lower in the cascade?

          • Dan says

            CAUTION. Red Flag!!!

            “Dr Jeff” Is trying to hawk his Supplements. Any respectful MD would not troll health forums and post his medical advice along with links to his website that sells the “cure” in supplement form.

            Disgusting! If you believe his advice, just consume whole flax, sunflower, and pumpkin seeds. Eat some from fresh coconut and maybe a supplement a source of GLA or eat more oatmeal.

            Don’t buy a magical “proprietary” blend of “parent” essential fatty acids oils in capsule form. Eating capsules of oil multiple times a day is a joke for nutritional medical advice, unless your making a profit on selling those capsules.

      • says

        Dr Jeff

        I have a green smoothie every morning. I used to make it using homemade organic almond milk.

        I didn’t overblend it and I didn’t strain it because I loved the partially unblended almonds and the thickness of the milk.

        Then I read that it isn’t good to have this too often because of the ratio of 2000:1 of omega 6 to 3 so I stopped using it.

        It now appears from what I’m reading on this blog that I can safely go back to using Almond milk.

        Is it safe to have this every day?

        I don’t eat processed food and only use organic coconut oil and olive oil.

      • Stian Bjøntegaard says

        That confuses me. Yes, we do need omega 6 in a fresh version of it, but the fishoils too. And as it doesn’t need to be converted, it is far more useful.

    • Moosey says

      Stick with Nordic Naturals as part of a nutritious, wholefood diet. There is overwhelming evidence that we need to consume marine-derived omega-3s. Plant sources of n3 (e.g. from flax seeds) are next to useless because there is a multi-stage conversion process; the rate-limiting (initial) step from alpha-linolenic acid to stearidonic is highly ineffective; detracting further from this is the fact that there are several more steps before EPA and DHA are actually synthesised and the yield of omega-3s (5% EPA!!) is of negligible benefit. Professors Michael Crawford (Seafood Human Evolution & Health), John Stein and Dr Paul Clayton have excellent credentials as does Dr Stephan Guyenet.

    • Moosey says

      Stick with Nordic Naturals to supplement a nutritious, wholefood diet. There is overwhelming evidence that we need to consume marine-derived omega-3s. Plant sources of n3 (e.g. from flax seeds) are next to useless because there is a multi-stage conversion process; the rate-limiting (initial) step from alpha-linolenic acid to stearidonic is highly ineffective; detracting further from this is the fact that there are several more steps before EPA and DHA are actually synthesised and the yield of omega-3s (5% EPA!!) is of negligible benefit. Professors Michael Crawford (Seafood Human Evolution & Health), John Stein and Dr Paul Clayton have excellent credentials as does Dr Stephan Guyenet.

      • says

        You have a naive understanding of biochemistry, these are steady state reactions (as most processes are) so the rate of conversion means nothing. The reason so little is converted is because nature doesn’t want it converted. The overwhelming majority of Omega-6 and Omega-3 stays in its natural 18 carbon state and is incorporated into cell membranes. Why would nature after millions of years make us deficient of fish oils? It defies reason. As to the “experts” listed, try reading this,
        and none of them are biochemists and don’t understand how the human body really works.

      • Stian Bjøntegaard says

        I agree with you. What we can see today is that the ratio between omega3 and 6 is very different from how it was just a couple of generations ago. It seems also pretty clear that plantbased omega3 does not do the trick. Even many omega3 products don’t do the trick. Because of the quality of the product and the rest of the diet. I’ve read some from those you mention, along with others. I even read my own test-results, frequently monitoring how my inner life is doing.

  18. Julia Ross says

    I really enjoyed your article. There’s one extraordinary statement that you make that I can’t find the reference for and I would love to have it if you can send it to me: “One study showed that replacing corn oil with olive oil and canola oil to reach an n-6:n-3 ratio of 4:1 led to a 70% decrease in total mortality.”

  19. says

    We’ve really screwed up the Omega thing. It’s not the ratios that are important, it’s the fact that the processed Omega-6 (linoleic acid) from canola oil, soy oil or corn oil is highly dangerous. The processing changes it so it can’t absorb oxygen ( won’t rot on the shelf, in your salad dressing, potato chips, French fries), so when it gets into you cell membranes (especially the mitochondria), your cells can’t absorb oxygen either! This is very dangerous, leading to inflammation, heart disease and cancer. Just adding more Omega-3 is NOT the answer, you need a lot more unprocessed Omega-6 in your diet to compensate for the processed crap that we are getting. Again, it’s not ratios! On average, our body is 11:1 Omega-6 to Omega-3, 60 percent of the Omegas we consume ar used as fuel. We need a lot of fresh, unprocessed Omega-6 everyday, the Omega-3 is just not as important.

    • Marisa says

      Hello Dr Jeff, just wondering if you’re a medical doctor (or whether it’s just a screen name) and whether the info you cite is based on research you’ve come across. If it’s true that the ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 isn’t the issue, then this is really important. Could you post the names of any research articles stating that the issue is nothing to do with the ratios, please? I’m not issuing a challenge, by the way, I’m genuinely interested. I’m hoping to do a raw vegan diet next month (for bowel issues) and I don’t want to overdose on Omega 6, which I was worried about given all the nuts I’d have to eat to get enough protein. If it’s true that the ratio isn’t an issue, this would be a tremendous relief. Thanks.

        • Marisa says

          Many thanks for your reply. After asking this question I clicked on your name and found your website. Thanks for the link to Brian Peskin, I’ll take a look. Just as a long shot – and I apologise if I’m out of order for asking here – but do you know anything about the cause and any natural cures for lipomas?

          • Marisa says

            I should have added that one of the reasons I ask is because since lipomas are abnormal growths of fat, I wondered if any imbalance of fatty acids in the diet were responsible for them, or maybe an inability to digest/process fatty acids? Hence the link with Omega 6 and 3 link.

        • Moosey says

          Hmmm . . I’m not sure “Prof.” Peskin’s assertions that fish-derived n-3s are deleterious to human health will hold much water if he comes up against some serious academic clout (please see 2nd link below). As for the ‘very well researched and opinionated and he is correct about everything he says’ aspect, I’m afraid I would have to contest this vigorously!

          • says

            Remember, it’s up to the fish oil industry to prove it’s good for us and that we suffer from “a fish oil deficiency”. Hardly seems likely given that they live in water and we don’t. Our physiology is totally different.

            • Moosey says

              REMEMBER, the PUFAs in oily fish / fish oil should be consumed synergistically, as part of a comprehensive, protective diet . . not by loading up with it and perceiving it to be a magic bullet of sorts. The naysayers should prove their point, perhaps? “Hardly seems likely given that they live in water and we don’t. Our physiology is totally different.” Our physiology is utterly different from many things but they are still highly nutritious.

            • Moosey says

              I function and feel better, taking n3 PUFAs, thanks. Have a look into Nutrishield Premium, a superbly researched and very well designed comprehensive supplement with an independently awarded and “stellar” ORAC rating. DHA and EPA included.

                • Moosey says

                  No need to imagine. Like I said, “I function and feel better, taking (the right stuff) n3 PUFAs, thanks. Have a look into Nutrishield Premium, a superbly researched and very well designed comprehensive supplement with an independently awarded and “stellar” ORAC rating. DHA and EPA included.

              • Stian Bjøntegaard says

                Nutrishield, one of the best looking products out there, I’m using something else, but very similar. I think the polyphenols are very important as well. But it’s a big big fight, as big parts of food industry and big pharma has built their system of bad diets, followed up with bad pills.

  20. says

    It is too bad that opinions differ so much.

    1) There is not a clear statement what the ratio omega-3 to omega-6 should be. Some sai 3:1 others say something else.

    2) There is also no clarity about the amount of omega-3 per food source. We have taken a mean from several researches and made the following table:

    The important thing is that we all need enough omega-3 fatty acids and we need to get them preferably from our diet and only supplement when needed.

    Second of all we should be aware of our overall diet and avoid omega-6 rich foods.

    We also don’t need to know the whole anatomy of water to know it’s essential 😉 We should also go towards understanding that omega-3 fatty acids are essential.

    • Aigars says

      I’m apoligise for my English!
      There are different claims about ratio in different countries or regions. Scandinavians going to 3:1, Japan 2:1 (of course), EU 5:1 & I think USA is 5:1 or better.
      When I talk with some of scientists in this area they recommend to keep ratio under 3:1 to keep cells fluidity and O3 level in blood around 8%.
      There are 75000 blood tests done in EU and USA on various type of people and just 5% is in balance no matter you are vegan, vegetarian, fish freak or like :)
      Average for US=25:1 & Average for EU=15:1 after first tests. What’s interesting India 27:1 …biggest vegeterian country in the world.

      I’m not a doctor but the point in my opinion is not the ratio claims in each country but to know your own ratio on today. So you know where you are and how bad it is :)
      Another question is how to get in balance as many nutritionists opines that it is almost immpossible to get in those 3:1 just with food and attempts are quite expensive for middle class. These times has passed with no return.

      P.S. Interesting is that in table of O3 level in various fishes krill does not appear. Why that?

      • Stian Bjøntegaard says

        About the results – the ratio in India, it is said to be much better in the countryside, but very bad in some cities. Some bad new habits with fast food in the cities, I would guess to blame.

    • Bystander says

      It does say the ratio, 1:1

      I, for one, want to know why. I was taught who, what, where, when and why. I’d rather have too much info (if that’s possible) than not enough. Having a better understanding is more convincing.
      As for knowing what is in the food sources it really depends on the soil. There is no definitive answer for numbers with depleted nutrient soil. Not to mention what they fish may have in them.
      Something else interesting is the ratio of potassium vs sodium. Our diets are no where near the 4:1 ration. Then we wonder why there are so many kidney and heart problems. Yes, the heart works off a sodium potassium pump.
      Just a thought.

      • Stian Bjøntegaard says

        Balance is important in many ways. The potassium / sodium balance is just another, and good, reason to quit processed food. Wrong oils, wrong salts…. I eat some greens cointaining potassium, – most frequently avocados. I never measured how I am doing when it comes to that balance, – now you made me wanna do that.. :)

  21. peter of burjulu says

    re the coconut oil, one can determine if its natural or hydrogenated by its difference in setting ‘change of state’ temperature
    VCO is 24degC and hydrogenated is 36-40degC

    • Nils says

      Hi Douglas, the fatty acid content actually varies depending on where the oil was produced (and in the case of Canola, the effects of genetic engineering, which further alter the ratios). You’ll notice this if you read the labels of different brands of the same oil.

    • Gabriel Raiano says

      Canola oil is simply rapeseed oil that was specifically bred/engineered to remove a fatty acid which was believed to cause heart lesions. The sad fact is that it only causes lesions in rats. The study that made people think the fatty acid was unsafe was done on rats alone & not humans. Specifically breeding the plant to change it’s fatty acid complex likely screwed up the oil & made it far less healthy than natural rape & as previously mentioned means there are plenty of variables in canola now depending on the companies that produce them & where they’re sourced from.

  22. Fred says

    My understanding of omega 6 is that it causes inflammation which causes the body to use oxidized cholesterol to put a “bandaid” on the inflamed area forming a clot in the artery which in turn causes heart damage. I guess less intake of omega 6 oils would the “prescription”…

    • James Wood says

      If that is the case, then why is Jamieson selling Omega 3-6-9 supplements? I’m now trying to determine if these are doing me more harm than good; i/e: If I should simply be taking Omega 3 supplements instead?

      • says

        OK, Omega-6, 18 carbon, unadulterated source, called Linoleic Acid is involved in making PGE-1, the most potent anti-inflammatory in the body. It is adulterated Omega-6 from cooking oil that causes the deposition of oxidized cholesterol in the intima of the arterial wall. I don’t know why Jamison would sell Omega 3,6,9 as that is a derivative and not useful for the human body. We need a balance of 2.5 to 1, 18 carbon, plant-based or animals that eat plants (not fish) Omega-6 to Omega-3. When you try a supplement with this, you will be surprised at the results.

        • Aigars says

          Quote: “We need a balance of 2.5 to 1, 18 carbon, plant-based or animals that eat plants (not fish) Omega-6 to Omega-3.”

          So you mentioned we do not need Om3 from fish oil.
          Could you please provide us with proven references of it as all I know that human (mammals) body can absorb only 5% of ALA. Women bit more. As I know fish oil (20, 22 carbon) with Poliphenols are best known combination to bring Omega 3 to our cells and bring body in balance. There are many studies about it and I know many good results of individuals who struggled before with skin problems, high blood pressure, lack of energy, migraine and allergies, asthma of youngest generations and children. Many of those problems are got far more better or gone.

          • says

            OK, the 2 essential fatty acids are LA and ALA, they are 18 carbon, plant-based versions of Omega-6 and -3. They are very well (almost 100%) absorbed. The conversion rate into the derivatives of EPA/DHA is less than 2%, fish oil is predominantly DHA/EPA and is a physiologic overdose of these derivatives.

            • Marisa De More says

              But what does all this mean in real terms? According to this website: adult males did not show a deficiency when they were consuming 13g of LA daily and 1.3g of ALA daily which appeared to provide 160mg of DHA + EPA + DPA (not sure if I’m interpreting the table properly). I have a bottle of cold pressed hemp seed oil in the fridge which states that it contains 52g of LA and 20g of ALA per 100ml of product. This presumably means that if a man consumes at least 25 ml (5 teaspoons) of hemp seed oil a day, he’ll be getting 13g of LA and 5g of ALA daily (enough to prevent deficiency according to the Australian government). But does this mean that less than 2% of the 13g of LA, and less than 2% of the 5g of ALA is converted by the body to provide 160mg of omega 6 and omega 3 combined? Moreover, is 160mg of Om6 and Om3 daily enough?

              • says

                Hemp seed oil works because it has the proper 2.5 to 1 ratio of La to ALA in it. Remember the designation “Omega” refers to families of fatty acids, Omega-3 has the initial double bond at the 3rd carbon of the chain and Omega-6 has the initial double bond at the 6th carbon of the chain. The fatty acid can be 16, 18, 20, 22 or more carbons long but would be still called Omega-3 or Omega-6. The body only requires the 18 carbon Omega-6 and -3, it converts what it needs on an as needed basis only. DHA/EPA are derivatives, non-essential fatty acids that we do not need from our diet.

                • Marisa says

                  Thanks for all your replies Dr Jeff, I appreciate it … but, I thought you’d said previously that the ratio of LA (om6) to ALA (om3) we consume didn’t matter, as long as they weren’t oxidised?!?! In your post above you say that hemp seed oil works because the ratio of LA to ALA is correct.

                • says

                  If you really want to be precise, then the optimal ratio is 2.5 to 1 Omega-6 to Omega-3, but in pursuit of this ratio, we have gone crazy trying to up the Omega-3, leading to this fish oil craze, not realizing it was the wrong Omega-3 all along. The body has incredible tolerances for variety in the diet, don’t be too obsessed with proper ratios, it’s more important to get the processed, adulterated Omega’s out of our diet than trying to achieve a balance.

        • Stian Bjøntegaard says

          Just so we don’t confuse LA with GLA and anti inflammatory properties; GLA is metabolized to dihomo-γ-linolenic acid (DGLA), the immediate precursor of PGE1, an eicosanoid with known anti-inflammatory properties.

      • Marisa says

        But what’s the problem with Jamieson selling Omega 3-6-9? If they’re cold-pressed, I understand why there’s an issue.

          • says

            The Omega-3 is from fish (that’s the wrong source), borage oil has poor bioavailability of Omega-6, the flax is ok. Omega-9 is a non-essential fatty acid, so you don’t need it in a supplement.

            • Marisa De More says

              I still don’t understand why fish oil is a ‘wrong’ source. I could understand it if you meant that fish oil supplements tend to be rancid and therefore are no different than the oxidised vegetable fats on the supermarket shelves. But I would have thought that consuming fresh oily fish was a good source of omega 3?

              • says

                Fish oil contains non-essential, 20 and 22 carbon fatty acids. We don’t need it in our diet. We only need the 18 carbon, plant based versions that are essential (i.e. the body cannot make them). The vegetable oil on the shelf is highly processed, therefore destroying the Omega content, leading to the myriad of chronic health problems we see today.

              • says

                Eating fatty fish does not have much benefit since most of the more unstable DHA/EPA of the fish will oxidize when cooked anyways, probably a good thing, because if you have too much EPA/DHA put into the system it causes a negative feedback loop, impairing production of PGE1, the most potent anti-inflammatory prostaglandin in the body.

                • Marisa says

                  This is really interesting, thanks so much for your contributions to these posts. I’ll have to do some more research into this. I’ve been eating fish oil pills like candy for the last 2 years. Someone else asks whether krill oil is in the same league as fish oil, I was wondering the same thing too.

                • says

                  Krill oil is less potent than fish oil but it’s still the wrong Omega’s. Also, krill would never be part of the human diet and they are incredibly cheap to raise and harvest, so in reality, it’s all about money.

                • Marisa De More says

                  Thanks for all the posts you made today Dr Jeff (Friday 6th Feb). I’ll be copying and pasting all your posts onto Word to research further. If the things you write are true, then it looks as though we’ve got the whole thing wrong. What a catastrophe. Thanks for sounding the wake-up call. I wish you every success and good health.

      • Nijole says

        Until I started to take the Balance Oil I was sick and broken. My fatty acid test of Omega 6/3 ratio came up 19.7:1. Four month later I did control test and that ratio is 3.5:1. Not only my test rezults are much better, but my health is so improved…I feel like a new person. Not to bore you with long story, I will mention what improved. I had back problems that kept me going to chiropractor every other day (talk about expense). Now it’s gone. Sciatic nerve pain no longer bothers me. Lost 10 lb in three weeks. Wounds heal so quickly, it’s amazing. The biggest benefit to me is, I lost cravings for sweets. My skin also improved.

        My husband said I am much nicer to him ever since I started taking Omega 3. I feel that I can handle lives challenges better.

        No argument or article will ever change my opinion about how important Omega 3 is and that we can not get enough from the foods that are available and affordable. Of course I am talking about high quality, delicate Omega 3, that contains right antioxidant that may not be available at the stores. I am so happy someone told me about this:)

  23. Mrs. C. says

    So…the sunflower seed butter that my kids like is NOT a good substitute for nut butter sandwiches. My picky eaters love my home made walnut butter that I make with small amount of Brazil nuts, mostly walnuts, ground flaxseed and vanilla extract. They say it tastes like cookie dough which is good because we don’t do grain flours, However, they sometimes want variety and are always bugging me for peanut butter. I try to stay away from peanut (legume) butter, so cashew butter is one option and I thought sunflower seed butter would be a good option.
    Now, looking at this chart, I see there is NO omega 3 at all! What a disappointment! They like it too. Wonder if I should just add some ground flaxseed to it to offset the Omega 6.

  24. Trish says

    I have heard great things about coconut oil and how good it is for you. I have also heard nutritionists say otherwise. I have read that is it good for an average person to have about 2-3 tsp daily. It is also an oil that turns solid. SO….it is good or bad?!?!?! I am hoping good…since for generations and eons island people have used coconut in different forms and you don’t see a lot of unhealthy islanders.

    • NIls says

      Hi Trish,

      Re: your questions about coconut oil – it depends on the type you’re taking.

      • Coconut oil that has been hydrogenated is very bad or people.
      • Organic coconut oil (non-hydrogenated) is an excellent, heart-healthy food that also kills parasites
      • Nutritionists have been trained for decades that the ideal diet is low fat, high carb. Hundreds of studies have revealed that this is incorrect – such a diet is actually damaging. But nutritionists and dieticians are still trained in a mistaken idea, and can be very defensive about it.
      • “Turning solid” has to do with its melting point and doesn’t mean it’s bad. Coconut oil turns solid below 78 degrees fahrenheit. This means it’s always liquid in the human body, which tends to be around 98.6 (a temperature at which it is always liquid). Some solid oils, like hydrogenated fats, are bad for the body, but natural saturated fats like coconut oil are very good for people.
      • Also be aware that one reason coconut oil got a bad rep was because of a huge advertising campaign by the vegetable oil industry trying to equate it with heart disease (so they could sell us soy oil and corn oil as supposedly healthy substitutes). As you point out, most islanders, who eat a lot of coconut oil, are traditionally very healthy. Heart disease was unknown among them until coconut oil was replaced with sickly vegetable oils like corn and soy.

      • Mas says

        NIIs is correct. I want to add some more.
        Coconut oil is mostly saturated oil (<90%) and 6% mono-unsaturated fatty oil. Hydrogenation (adding more hydrogen) is done to make double bonded (chemical bond) mono unsaturated acids to saturated. This is mainly done in cosmetic industry.
        The advantage is that coconut oil is small chain fatty acids, the main component is just 12 carbon atoms. Whereas in Olive (Oleic fatty acid) has 18 Carbon atoms. What is the advantage? It is easy to break down a smaller fatty acid than a long fatty acid. So Coconut oil can easily digested, compared with other long chain mono and poly unsaturated fatty acids.
        Having said that, since coconut oil contains saturated fat, over consumption is not advised.

  25. Abrielle says

    Actually type 2 diabetes is partially hereditary and partially caused by arsenic poisoning. This poison arsenic is in found in substantial quantities in rice both white and brown, pear juice, apple juice and grape juice.

  26. Zinzino customer says

    Provides bloodtest of your omega 3\6 ratio before you start, and one after 4months to see that your balance is 3:1 or better.

    I had 6:1 before start. Was hoping for much worse because i hoped this could is my backinjury from a car crash, but since i had so nice ratio before starting i had my doubt.
    After 3months daily i felt so much better.
    And after 4months i took the 2nd test that showed ratio 3:1 .

    People have gone from 30+:1 ratio, to under 3:1 .
    They say they have the right amount of omega9 oliveoil in this so that the body will use all amount of the omega 3.

    Youtubevideo from the company:

  27. Jessica says

    I am in school to become a dietitian and just want to say that this article and especially the comments blew my mind. I never knew anything about omega 6 fatty acids and I hope that in the next few years I will have just half the knowledge I see here about the chemical break down of foods. Thank you to all!

  28. says

    I just stumbled across this thread and some basic inaccuracies should be addressed. Omega-6 in its raw, unprocessed form is not the enemy here. The basic problem is the processing which it undergoes. Google vegetable oil processing (corn or canola, soya etc.) it will make you sick. The Omega-6 is actually way more important than Omega-3 for cellular function. Our cell membranes are on average 86% Omega-6 and 14% Omega-3, but it varies depending on cell type (there is virtually no Omega-3 in our skin and only 1% in our brain). Incorporating improper, processed Omega-6 into our cell membranes reduces the rate at which oxygen can cross the cell membrane, leading to anaerobic metabolism, rising acidity levels, inflammation, heart disease and cancer. DHA and EPA are longer chain fatty acids that are highly oxidizable due to there level of unsaturation. They are destroyed by the stomach acid (fishy burps anybody?) and cause a problem for most people. They are not appropriate dietary supplements for most people (if not all).

  29. pedro says

    brill site, especially the comments and info.
    we live in spain and have our own olive trees for oil.
    we cook with it and as is on salads etc.
    Lot said about olive oil which is a subject of its own but the ‘olive oil in moderation’ needs some debate so here is a website to clarify how good it is ( by comparison to others)
    just had 10 days in UK with almost no olive oil and my arthritis aches are slowly coming back ( just coincidence?)

    • Marisa says


      Are you sure it’s the lack of olive oil causing arthritis problems? Maybe it’s lack of Vitamin D3 due to the lack of sunshine we have here in the UK?

      • Maxine Kaufman-Lacusta says

        Interesting thought. I have far less problem with arthritis-associated muscle aches when I’m in Palestine-Israel and eating lots of olives (I don’t think my consumption of olive oil changes much); I also supplement with D at home in Canada but not when travelling to the Middle East…

    • Maxine Kaufman-Lacusta says

      I’d like the walnut butter recipe, too, please. I’m allergic to both almonds and peanuts and eating a lot of sesame tanini and sunflower seeds and butter. Husband (allergic to peanuts, doesn’t much like almonds) eats a lot of Wow-butter, plus we eat a lot of soy otherwise, so an alternative would be great. Thanks!

  30. dan says

    I just started eating flax seeds, and my short-term memory suddenly started working again. I could actually feel something happening in my head, and then I was no longer forgetting stuff. I used to do things like walk into a room, and forget why I went there in the first place. I’m guessing it’s because I rebalanced my omega 3’s and 6’s, which is what I was trying to accomplish with the flax seeds.

  31. Mary says

    Hi Chris

    I love your blog.

    I’m wondering if homemade almond milk would have the high PUF’s especially as the fibre has been strained.

    I was making almond flour with the fibre but have stopped doing this since reading about the high 6 to 3 omega ratio.

  32. Aritza says

    My cardiologist tells me that Omega 6’s are inflammatory to the heart. I drink Hemp milk because it’s about the only alternative milk that I can tolerate, but it has a 1:4 ratio of Omega 3’s (1200 mg) to Omega 6’s (3800 mg). Are Omega 6’s from plant sources less harmful than other sources? Is there a distinction? I’m running out of alternative milk options — I have tried several others that don’t agree with me.

    • says

      Why drink milk at all? For 1000’s of years all we had was water, and it seems to do the job. Just stick to a mostly vegetarian diet and you will put your cardiologist out of business. Vegetable based Omega’s (evening primrose, flax seed, pumpkin seed, safflower oil) are all good in their raw, unprocessed form.

      • Debra Rinehart says

        But what about bone density. My GP put me on Prolia for my osteopenia but what really helped my numbers the most was I have just through eating more dairy. I am afraid if I get off dairy and my numbers go down again he will recommend the Prolia and I really don’t like taking chemicals.

        • says

          Bone density will take care of itself with proper protein, fats and lower carbs. Milk (non-whole milk) drinking is associated with increased osteoporosis. Also bone strength is associated with weight training. I don’t like the meds either, calcium only stiffens the bone, protein is what gives it strength and resistance to breaking.

          • Alice says

            I thought it was boron that provided tensile strength to bone, though I haven’t studied this for quite a while.

  33. Alexandria Lee says

    Hey! I was 35kg 13 months ago, I suffer from anorexia. I now weigh 44kg. I eat 2-4 avocado’s a day.. they’re high in omega 6.. So how come I’m yet to gain loads of weight?? I do eat salmon, flaxseed oil, loads of quinoa and a fair bit of omega 3 but I certainly do not think it would outweigh the amount of omega 6 in my diet. My diet is also high healthy low gi carbohydrates.

  34. says

    My experience with omega 6: have you ever heard about ‘Primrose OIL’? It was was prescribed to me by my doctor (never mind what for), who said to take 1000 mg a day. Just after I started taking it as prescribed, I’ve noticed some skin changes, rashes, spots, that recently developed drastically. I blamed it on too much pizza:) Today, I decided to do a little research and I found out that primrose oil contains big doses of Omega 6 and in my case, I don’t really have too much Omega 3, as I don’t eat fish. So, all in all, I decided to stop taking the primerose oil. I know that this kind of natural medicine is becoming more popular and maybe it helps some but after my last experiences I start trusting Doctor Google more than regular ones..

    • Marisa says

      I’ve been taking Primrose Oil daily for around 5 years as it cured my PMS. However, I developed a lipoma on my shoulder last month and have just found out according that lipoma could be due to excess Omega 6 intake. I’m continuing to research any connections, but I just wanted to say that just because something is natural and works to cure one ailment, doesn’t mean its safe under all circumstances.

  35. Laurie says

    I have found a great oil that contains everything needed it is new to the USA. I had myself tested first. my migrants are gone and I’m overall feeling better.

  36. says

    I too wonder what the asterisk by “Fish” is for. My understanding is that fish does contain some amount of naturally occurring omega 6. So I am surprise to see fish oil contains 0% omega 6.

    I just checked Wikipedia and it says this on fish oil: “The most widely available dietary source of EPA and DHA is cold water oily fish, such as salmon, herring, mackerel, anchovies, and sardines. Oils from these fish have a profile of around seven times as much omega-3 oils as omega-6 oils”

    So this suggests fish does contain some omega 6.

    What the asterisk might indicate is that fish oil capsules might contain little or no omega 6 if the omega 3 in the capsule is concentrated to a high level.

    Such fish oil of course would be of very high quality

  37. Susan says

    So many posts I can’t tell if this question has been answered yet, is sesame oil considered an industrial oil like corn and canola etc?. thanks

  38. says

    Ok, is it fair to say that this article’s thesis is that it’s healthier to balance your omega 3-6. If thats it, then it would also be fair to say any oil is good to cook with as long as you are balancing the other oils with what you intake. Example cooking your fish in an olive oil and a small amount of butter. Would it also be fair to say that every person’s body breaks down fat differently or at different rates? With all the variables in play I find it to difficult to wrap my head around the exact ballance. For the average Joe like myself, I think its best to do ourselves a favor and limit your fats and carbs and get more of your calories from protien and dont worry about what type of fats you are eating as long as you are limiting them. It’s 100% proven that low fat, low carbs, High protien diet works. (Caveman diet, Atkins diet) Then again.. the cancer flock jumps on these diets as well.. as everything causes cancer..go figure.

  39. rose says

    saturated fats any day= margarine was ok, no health probs’ when Napoleon 111 patented it-twas made with animal fat. became dangerous and a killer when it switched away from animal fats to make it cheaper to produce,and abused plant oils and produced trans-fats-poison.. Now what about Coconut Oil – saturated-but a Medium Chain Triglycerite – Butter-Short Chain Triglycerite -Goose fate-medium chain. I suggest you find out for yourselves about the effects of Long-medium and short chain fats.

  40. Johan Lindén says

    It doesn’t seem like Chris is answering comments here, but other readers might be interested in what a scientific study says about PUFA, fatty liver and inflammation.

    I think there’s a big dose of confirmation bias here when Chris only links to studies confirming his believes.

    Note that trial was done with overweight people.

  41. Ron Carlson says

    Can you tell me if the information given here is based on recent studies?By recent I mean within the last 12-24 months.Thank you

  42. Tanya says

    Question –
    I eat what I call an “adapted Paleo” diet. (I have not read your book, but was very excited to see some of my beliefs validated on your blog and want to get to the book). The question is, when we eat this way, should we still take simply Omega-3 supplements? Or should we be moving toward a 3/6/9 supplement?

  43. says

    Are all omega-6 fatty acids pro-inflammatory?
    During a discussion with a doctor( chemist) the following question came up. Why are all n-6 fatty acids “evil” if not all of them are actually pro-inflammatory. He suggested that the ration between aracidonic acid and EPA would be a better parameter than n-6/n-3.
    What are your thoughts on that?

  44. Ken says

    Apparently the World Health Organization endorses an n-6 to n-3 ratio of 4:1. The researchers at also use this ratio in their treatment protocols, based on research by Yehuda, et. al. This ratio, of course, differs sharply from your target ratio. Chris, could you comment on this?

  45. says

    Why not test your fatty acid balance?
    To see if your diet or Product works?
    There is a dry blod sample test and I know how to get an extensive 30 pages test for free. You are welcome to connect with me on facebook to get mere Info.

  46. Bob Greene says

    Delighted to find a well-researched blog discussing omega 3 to 6 ratios, their background history, as well as modern sources of omega 3 fatty acids.

    Although Chris acknowledges the overwhelming advantage of seafood over plant-sourced omega3, we are left with a serious dilemma– fish bear an ever greater toxic burden. To obtain adequate amounts of long-chain omega3 fatty acids, we are forced to eat not only toxins naturally present with fish, but industrial toxins like mercury, lead, PCBs and even chlordane.

    Our alternative to seafood is endogenous conversion of plant-sourced, short-chain omega3 fatty acids. Since the human history does not involve ready access to seafood at all locations, humans survived on alternative sources of essential fatty acids. There may have been a native conversion ability to some degree, in particular populations. So, one potentially useful vein of research is the reason humans vary individually on their omega3 to 6 conversion ability– enzymes appropriate to the conversion are not evenly distributed in the population.

    For most of us, lacking that conversion ability means we can obtain our DHA and EPA in complete safety from only molecularly-distilled fish oil. And to obtain a truly substantial amount of DHA and EFA by supplement not only requires ingestion of a considerable amount of oil, but is quite expensive.

    Perhaps the better approach– hopefully made practical by research– is to identify and provide by oral supplement the enzymes needed to increase omega3 to 6 conversion efficiency with plant sources, such as flaxseed. At some later point, perhaps genetic engineering can splice the genes required to make the conversion “naturally”.

    • Bob Greene says

      One of the hazards of editing late at night is to see what is not there. Here are two corrections–

      “So, one potentially useful vein of research is to explore the reason humans vary individually on their omega3 short-chain to long-chain conversion ability”

      and this

      “is to identify and provide by oral supplement the enzymes needed to increase omega3 short-chain to long-chain conversion efficiency with plant sources, such as flaxseed. “

  47. George says

    I agree wholly with Pone. This is truly a 2014, logical, rational and level headed thinking that we all should employ.

    I hope 2014 brings with it common sense, ethical food and agriculture company’s as well as sound economic policy.

    god speed to us all

    • pone says

      George, when I have tried to make the same remarks about Omega-6 in public forums before, I get hit by an onslaught of hate mail from medical practitioners trying to defend the AHA’s many studies on Omega-6 lowering heart lipids.

      The point the biochemists make in response is that the AHA studies with Omega-6 also use Omega-3, thus making causality to Omega-6 impossible to establish. A superb article summarizing both sides of this argument fairly is here:

      If I already posted that link, sorry I forgot. :)

      Even if there is only 40% chance the biochemists are right, why take the chance? I’m increasing my monounsaturated intake, lowering my saturated, and lowering to trace levels my Omega-6 (which is HARD HARD HARD to do given modern food practices).

  48. Anthony Weikel MD says

    I am a practicing MD. I have served as a clinical adviser to research scientists at Harvard Med School working on novel methods of controlling systemic inflammation.

    I basically agree with all your points regarding the health issues created by our unhealthy American diet which is too high in omega6s and high glycemic index carbohydrates. This is clearly the nations number one health issue and leads not only to atherosclerotic vascular disease and Type2Diabetes, but a whole spectrum of chronic degenerative diseases, allergies and auto immune disorders.

    Where I do not agree is on the subject of the importance of DHA vs EPA..EPA due to its structural similarity to arachidonic acid (AA) can act at the same cell and nuclear membrane receptors, the COX and LOX receptors as AA. AA which is derived from omega6s is the most important promoter of chronic systemic inflammation. EPA, but not DHA competes for these membrane receptors with the general action of decreasing over all inflammation. EPA also actively influences t5he PPAR-gamma nuclear membrane receptors which also decreases inflammation.

    Because our diets as you point out are so high in n-6s, we need a great deal of EPA. Unfortunately if you try to obtain therapeutic levels of EPA using regular fish oil, you will consume too much DHA which is the portion of fish oil which causes the unpleasant GI effects. You need to either modify your diet or take a more pure form of EPA

    respectfully…A.M. Weikel MD

    • pone says

      Anthony, I have read the studies by biochemists like William Lands that agree with your comments about Omega-3 and Omega-6 competing for the same receptors. So the implication of that is to increase Omega-3 to overpower the Omega-6.

      Doesn’t that however ignore the fact that BOTH Omega-3 and Omega-6 are highly unstable polyunsaturated fats that are subject to oxidation. The solution proposed by the AHA – to consume more Omega-3 to offset our overdose of Omega-6 – therefore subjects us to even more oxidative stress than Omega-6 alone would.

      Wouldn’t the much more conservative strategy be to reduce dietary consumption of Omega-6, thereby reducing the need for large doses of Omega-3, and put these two oils into their correct relative balance and at quantities more like the trace requirements the body actually has?

      • anthony weikel says

        Dear Pone..

        You ask, why not just cut down on our n-6 consumption? Well certainly that would do the trick, although you still need EPA. Cutting down on n-6s is not a practical solution for people living in the USA. Our entire food delivery supermarkets, rely on n-6s. Processed foods have been seed oil dependent since the 1940s. Adding seed oil fraction which is relatively resistant to oxidation, adds flavor and increases shelf life. Prior to the the development of seed oil presses, there were no supermarkets, because food products were too unstable.

        There is also another issue besides n-6 consumption which are high glycemic index carbs.
        Rapid absorption of sugars causes blood sugar spikes which triggers insulin release. Insulin favors the AA pathway accelerating the rate and percentage conversion of n-6s to AA which increases systemic inflammation. Bottom line, in the USA we need to consume more EPA.

        Suggest reading material written by Dr. Bernard Sears..

        respectfully A Weikel.

        • Ken says

          I’ve read Dr. Sears’s books. He certainly makes the case for reducing foods that spike insulin and increasing intake of EPA in controlling AA production. But his protocol seems to give no weight to the beneficial aspects of what he calls the “bad” ecosanoids. Following his protocol, especially his recommendation of 7.5 grams of Omega 3s in extreme cases, would greatly distort the “normal” (optimal?) percentage of n-3s in cell membranes, I assume. Could you comment on this?

  49. duke says

    Chris, I am all confused. Few months ago there was a report based researched people who consumed high level of omega-3 had high risk of prostate cancer compared to people who consumed high level of omega-6. Please comment on that. Also, can you please advise daily recommended intake of omega 3 and 6 for adult.

  50. Pone says

    This article has an interesting statement that “the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 matters, but so does the total amount of each.”

    Assume that somehow we manage to get our Omega-3 to Omega-6 balance closer to the ideal 1:1 profile. In that case, what is the maximum amount of Omega-6 that we are allowed to ingest, and what is the reason for that limitation?

  51. howard says

    I live on the coast of australia and eat fish six nights a week not fried in any oil (nonstick pan) . Pizza on the seventh night. No need 4 fish oil.

    • jd says

      Non-stick pans contain a cancer causing chemical that transfers slowly over time into your food. You should use cast iron with a splash of canola.

      • John says

        This is only true for non stick using PFOE and similar. Ceramic coatings and the new diamond like film coatings are non toxic and metal utensil save. They can be found on many stainless steel and cast iron products. Newer research has shown that DLC’s (diamond like compounds) are dense enough to seal the surfaces and prevent leaching of metals from copper and aluminum cookware.
        Modern ceramic and DLC nonstick surfaced are not you grannies poison.

  52. Chris says


    We started our 8 year old on Eye Q ( and are on the first month where they say to take 6 caps a day. I’m not sure if this is related, hope you can help, but quite recently, within the last week I’d say (week 3 of the 1st month) – the following is happening and I’d like to know if you think it’s related to the capsules, or just an 8 year old being and 8 year old:

    1) Complaining about pain in hands and legs (sound arthritic by how he describes it) – we thought it could be growing pains.

    2) Moodiness, anger, and what seems to be some depression.

    This has happened quite quickly, usually he’s a great kid – we put him on this stuff to help him with concentration as we found although he’s very bright and one of the top students in his class, he was not able to focus sometimes and get distracted easily, so we thought the product would help that.

    In your experience, in just 2-3 week, could this stuff be the cause of his body aches and change in personality?


  53. says

    Hi Clare, I’ve read in Dr. Steve ILardi’s book ‘The Depression Cure’ a whole chapter on omega 3 and 6 etc.
    Now, he says there is GLA omega 6 (gamma linolenic acid) which is a nice anti-inflammatory – thing is if you’re having lots of EPA from fish etc. it can cut back production of GLA.
    So you need something like oatmeal- the slow cook stuff not intant- has lots of it- I think hemp oil too? check this out first though
    hope this helps :-)

  54. Clare says

    Chris et al
    We do not consume processed pre packaged foods, nor do we buy supermarket ready meals etc. I cook from scratch. No breakfast cereals, no pasta, no rice, no flours (as in baked foods) are eaten. We are Omnivores, and eat protein of some source with every meal, plus non starchy vegetables, salads etc. Minimal fruit (exception Avo’s and a few berries) is consumed. Therefore we are low in fructose as well.

    Dairy is minimal….. goat yoghurt and fresh cream and butter…… in small amounts

    I use EV Coconut oil or animal fat to cook with, butter on vegetables. Husband makes his own mayo 50/50 CO/EVO

    Question is….. are we deficient in n-6’s?

    Both of us are diet controlled T2DM, hence the LCHF approach – it works!
    Add chia seed and hemp seed and ground flax seed to my daily 100g yoghurt.

    We take a fish oil capsule a day, eat fresh salmon maybe once each week, but still suffer from extreme inflammation. Vascular CVD and vasculitis……
    Where are we going wrong? Please don’t tell me to talk this out with my GP…. nutrition is not their modus operandi :-)

    I read all the information I can get hold of about inflammation — PEG -1’s versus PEG-2’s

    Help is appreciated.

    • Mel says

      Hi Clare,

      It sounds like you and your husband have a great eatstyle – I don’t like to say diet! I actually eat low(er) carb myself. What are you and your husband’s A1C’s? Do you bake with a lot of almond flour? I’ve read that almond flour is high in Omega-6… Maybe that could be a culprit?

    • Marisa says

      I seem to recall one famous online doctor saying that unless animals are grass fed, the ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 in their will be unfavourably outbalanced. Hence, unless we eat grass fed meat we may be consuming too much omega 6. It’s just a thought you might wish to research.

  55. dan says

    Hey Chris. I was checking out a video on lecturepad about PUFA intake and SHD risk. He make’s a pretty compelling argument for PUFA consumption as Heart protective. I’d love to get your opinion on this. The lecture should be on the link below. The title of the video lecture is N6 Fatty Acids harmful or helpful if the link doesn’t take you straight there. There’s also some great stuff on lipid metabolism on that site also…Im sure you’ve seen it though :) cheers

  56. veggiedude says

    Dr. Michael Greger’s lecture from 2003 says everything this article is saying. If you are vegan, and want a vegans point of view, check out his lecture…

    • Marisa says

      Thanks for uploading this video, it contains some excellent information … however, some of his advice seems a little dated. He claims that saturated fats are unhealthy and must be avoided, yet there’s plenty of research to suggest that saturated fats are healthy. They remain stable and don’t oxidise at high temperatures making them excellent fats for cooking.

      Dr Greger also advises against salt consumption – but research suggests that salt doesn’t contribute to heart disease, instead it is the ratio of high sodium to low potassium intake that is supposed to cause problems. Potassium is abundant in many fruit and veg.

      He also advises against consuming foods containing cholesterol – yet it is now known that the consumption of cholesterol in our food has practically zero effect on our body’s cholesterol levels. The body makes its own cholesterol on a ‘need to’ basis depending on how much inflammation is in the body. Cholesterol, so we’re told, is the ambulance that turns up at the scene of an accident. Cholesterol rectifies the damage caused by inflammation in our arteries, but it gets blamed for causing the problem.

      He also cautions against consuming coconut oil – yet we now know this is one of the healthiest oils we can consume.

      He also suggests that vegetarians and vegans could get some of their B12 requirements from fortified soy milk, yet we are told by other doctors that soy products – unless fermented – are tremendously detrimental to health, partly because of their phytate and lectin content, along with phytoestrogens which may disrupt hormone balance in some individuals.

      He also cautions against eating animal products due to their trans fat content – but there’s research to suggest that trans fats in animal products such as meat and butter do not have a damaging effect on health, to the contrary they have beneficial properties, unlike man made trans fats such as hydrogenated vegetable/seed oils. An interesting article about this can be found on this website:

      After saying all that, Dr Gregor gives some fascinating information about the dangers of homocystine and how it can be lowered with Vitamin B12, so thanks for uploading the video. I just hope he’s right about it, though. The video is over 10 years old, so perhaps he’s changed his stance on coconut fat etc …

  57. anthony weikel says

    Re Krill Oil…

    Someone posted that Krill oil is more powerful (or words to the effect) than fish oil..On the NEPT site there was (is) a study posted. A study reported in an “alternative medicine” journal. Though I am an MD. I am not a journal snob and try to keep reasoning and thought above rank or credential..Unfortunately, even though the data present would seem to indicate Krill Oil was vastly superior to fish oil in its abilities to lower trigs, maintain and lower LDL-C (bad cholesterol)..the data was not creditable…

    How can I say that???…Well there is a formula in blood lipid measurements that accurately describes the correct ratios of Trigs, and the various cholesterol fractions in the blood..It is called the Friedewald Equation, and it has been tested, and in one paper over 29,000 lab tests confirmed its accuracy. The disturbing thing about the reported Krill paper was the reported results did not line up with the Friedewald equation…(remember Krill oil is acting on the lipid panels, and even if effects were different from fish oil, the lipid contents still must conform to the ratios, and totals)…Furthermore all the aberrant results always erred on the side that made Krill oil look better than fish oil..The conclusion is the results were fudged.

    Krill oil is phosphorylated and the company claims this gives increased benefits and higher GI absorption levels, similar claim is made in some of the fish oils..These claims to not really check out..So if you are spending extra to get Krill Oil, you are just paying more for your EPA and DHA…

    A side note to Chis…DHA is really not as important as EPA in the control of chronic is true DHA can make some weak resolvins, but DHA is larger and specifically different enough in molecular structure from both AA and EPA that it is not very involved in the day to day control of chronic inflammation..DHA’s role is mainly structural in the brain and other cell membranes..

    • Kelly says

      I read on another site — notably one that sells high-EPA fish oil — that we need much less DHA in relation to EPA because the half life of DHA is something like 2 years — so it stays in the brain, and perhaps builds up to higher levels — compared to EPA, which they say has a short half life of something like several days.

      Does anyone know if this is true?

  58. anthony weikel says

    Response to Tom and Chris…

    First Tom… Sorry pal, but there is very good scientific evidence that supports the fact EPA one of fish oils two principal components does act to decrease chronic inflammation, working within the cited eicosanoid system to 1) decrease the rate of conversion of ALA ( the principal n-6) to Arachidonic Acid (AA) (the principal pro inflammatory eicosanoid) and 2) to competitively inhibit the pro inflammatory actions of AA on the COX and LOX cell and nuclear membrane receptors..

    The important thing about the “fish oil” skeptics, is they do not take into account the fact that EPA’s effects are dose related, and the dose depends on the amount of n-6s and AA. The crucial concept is the AA/EPA ratio…Dietary supplement fish oil tabs on average contain about 175mg of EPA/gm ..The estimated amount of EPA require to reach a 4/1, AA/EPA ratio is estimated at between 4-5 gm EPA daily…So a person taking a gm of “fish oil” a day is simply no where near the required dosage…

    Studies, JELIS and GISSI both showed reduced cardiovascular disease events for patients on higher doses of EPA vs placebo…More importantly chronic .degenerative disease incidences line up very well with the AA/EPA ratio within the populations..Check out atherosclerosis in the Japanese population…

    A little knowledge can get you int a lot of trouble…Most of the fish oil critics are bad scientists..

    • Alice says

      Read on an Ad sent to my inbox promoting Krillfishoil 5X, that fish oil needs to be extracted via CO2 to be effective. Is this so?

      • Alice says

        Sorry I really messed up on the name of the supplement, it’s called, Omegakrill 5X. Claims that DHA is the most effective and claims to have lots relative to EPA. Somewhere I read or heard that EPA is a precursor of DHA and is turned into it. Is this so? If so it seems like it would all end up as DHA.

  59. Christine Regan says

    Great site, very informative thank you. Have you done any research on hemp oil? I recently added a small amount of it to my and my toddler’s diets, mixing a bit into foods and as a vegetable dressing (using it cold). I have read that it is a good source of “balanced” omegas ~ balanced omega 3, 6, etc. Now that I’ve read about your warnings on omega 6 I’m confused now as to whether or not we should be including this in our diets. We don’t consume much of any other source of omega 6, only a little olive oil here and there and whatever omega 6 might be in sesame tahini which we love and eat semi-regualrly (should we cut back on this too?!). Any info on hemp oil would be appreciated! Also I have been supplementing my toddler’s diet with 1/2 tsp (550 total omegas 255 of which is DHA) per day of Nordic Natural’s Children’s DHA from Arctic cod liver oil, any idea if this is a good source of DHA for my child?

    • Marisa says

      Hello Christine, I’m not sure whether you’ve been following all the posts on this thread, but in response to your query about the safety of hemp seed oil, Dr Jeff Matheson says that plant based omega 3 and omega 6 from raw unprocessed plant oils (though not borage, which has poor availability) are excellent sources for the body. Better than fish oil, according to his posts. He recently posted that Hemp seed oil is good, in response to one of my queries.

  60. Melissa says

    I notice that you didn’t mention the ratios of omega 6-omega 3’s that olive oil has in it. Can you answer that one?

  61. James says

    read with interest the above article where is the next article

    Also i would like to get a omega 6 / omega 3 ratio test i stay in Scotland any ideas where the nearest place I can get this test is

  62. Old Mike says

    I just want to make sure everyone reads and understands what has happened to our meat supply,since they started to feed corn and soy to the animals. This results in a change in the linoleic acid content of

    the animal fat,which along with veggie oil consumption results in the same type of change in

    human fat. This is not natural to humans,and might be a major cause of our disease.
    Make sure to look at the human fat data.

    Old Mike

    This is data from mice experimental fat diets.

    to the right click on lard.

    here is some data comparing the old USDA data base to new lard

    this is a real eye opener,Linoleic acid content USA body fat read down to see the graph

    1943 data


    some historical points

  63. charles grashow says

    Association Between Omega-3 Fatty Acid Supplementation and Risk of Major Cardiovascular Disease Events
    A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

    Overall, omega-3 PUFA supplementation was not associated with a lower risk of all-cause mortality, cardiac death, sudden death, myocardial infarction, or stroke based on relative and absolute measures of association.



    Question to Chris – I wonder if “paleo people” worried about omega-3/omega-6 balance or had easy access to omega-3 food sources in northern continental climates?

    • Steven Giardino says

      The study did not take into consideration numerous other factors that play a role in illness. For instance, how high was n-6 in their diets? Did it greatly overwhelm n-3 intake? What about exercise? What about blood glucose levels resulting from simple carb intake? etc. There is a big picture here, and taking a few fish oil caps while changing nothing else will of course have little to no effect.

  64. Jonny says

    I’ve study Peskins work and he is right,period. Stephan Guyenet made comments about Peskin WITHOUT READING HIS BOOKS OR HIS WORK. I dare cris or Stephan to email Peskin with there OPINION and he will respond with a real answer. I emailed him about both of your comments and he buried you. I think people are afraid of him because no one will debate him. You guys called him out on his work and should back it up with a debate. I’m sure you’ll lose and realize that he is smarter than all of you.

  65. Caroline says

    Is it true that omeg-3 helps in reducing forgetfulness. This is my greatest weakness and i wish to know how to resolve it.

    • Evan says

      “(which extraction has an extremely bad impact on sea life & kills a lot of fish for a tiny bit of oil).”

      The extraction of oil from fish has absolutely no bad impact on the biomass of fish. Nearly all commercially available fish oil is extracted from the waste of commercially caught fish. For example when salmon are caught and processed in a cannery. The waste is sent to a local rendering plant where it is turned into fishmeal and fish oil. The fish oil is even used in the boilers 12 to provide heat for processing.

  66. Annemarie says

    Your article doesn’t talk about hemp seed or hemp oil which has a very good ratio omega 3-6-9. As a vegan I don’t consume fish or fish oil (which extraction has an extremely bad impact on sea life & kills a lot of fish for a tiny bit of oil).

    Hereby a very interesting article on excellent (plant-based/ non aggressive) sources of Omega 3:

    Kind regards,

  67. robert says

    it is important to note that variations in LA
    intake in the diets of adult humans do not substantially
    affect tissue AA levels; indeed, only about 0.2% dietary
    LA is actually converted to AA (13). Clearly, there is an
    inflammatory component to CHD, but the role of eicosanoids
    per se is not clear, especially when one considers
    that AA (and LA itself) can be converted into a variety of
    anti-inflammatory (eg, epoxyeicosatrienoic acid [14] and
    lipoxin A [15]) as well as pro-inflammatory mediators.
    The balance among all of these metabolites, not to mention
    scores if not hundreds of others, needs to be considered
    before labeling a dietary component as “pro-inflammatory.”
    The n-3 index is indeed a marker of risk for fatal CHD;
    however, it is not the only factor determining risk. Even
    though higher LA diets do slightly lower n-3 index, there
    still are independent cardioprotective actions of LA itself
    (eg, lowering serum cholesterol and possibly improving
    endothelial function and insulin resistance) that could
    more than offset a theoretical reduction in n-3 levels. One
    cannot consider only one CHD risk factor in isolation and ignore the others

    • Hoffe says

      According to Nutrition Data butter would be about 63% saturated, 26% monounsaturated, 3,5% polyunsaturated. Of the polyunsaturated fat about 90% would be Omega 6

  68. says

    Love your article. Found your knowledge to be far beyond your contemporaries. But, I would like to bring you up to speed on a small group of us trying to change the lipids profile in beef cattle with very great success. Our cattle are fed a diet rich in ground flax and the results have been terrific . If you would like to see more info on what we are doing you can see more at .
    Thanks, keep writing. great stuff

  69. Peter Povey says

    For those of you confused about good fats and bad fats read Barry Groves brilliant book “Trick and Treat” wherein he methodically lays out the research clearly demonstrating the health value of saturated fat. Basically our bodies lay down mono and saturated fat as an energy store store for times of starvation. In other words given a choice our bodies prefer saturated fat. He also goes on to highlight how polyunsaturated fats particularly omega 6’s are still used to suppress the immune system in transplant operations post surgery !! A carefully kept secret apparently. Page 95 of his book.
    Lots of other good stuff in the book from salt to sunshine.
    Happy Xmas to you all.

  70. Mik says

    Impressive about all the views from people. I thought this site was so interesting that I sent it on to a few friends. I heard that if you are going to take supplements, then it is better to just take the omega 3. Now I know why.

  71. Patrick says

    Dear Chris,

    A great post as always. Just a short comment regarding “This is illustrated on the following graph, from a 1992 paper by Dr. William Landis”. I believe his name is William Lands. You can just delete this comment later. IT does not add to the discussion.

    My best,

  72. Eric says


    I eat a good amount of olive oil (3/4 cup 5 days a week) mixed with cider vinegar as a salad dressing. What oil would you suggest I use instead of olive oil?

    • Pone says

      Eric, Macadamia Oil would be a much better monounsaturated fat to use instead of olive oil. Macadamia has very low polyunsaturated fat content. Olive Oil gives a lot of Omega6 when eaten in large amounts.

  73. Leah says

    Interesting. Do you know the concentration (in mg) of omega-3’s per gram of grain-fed cattle? grass fed cattle? chicken? Any tips on finding this info would be much appreciated!

    • says

      I’d like to take a shot at that question. My tests on strictly grain fed cattle have not yielded much Omega-3 fatty acids. Generally 25 to 40 mg per 4 ounce serving would cover the majority of the cattle we tested for our baselines. When we started feeding our cattle ground flax seed and let them run on grass and away from the dry lot environment, that number soared to 230 mg/ 4 ounce serving. But, our PUFA and MUFA numbers also went up .
      Don Mayse
      Show Me Farms

  74. says

    For me it’s a truely good perspective. I meet individuals who rather say the things they suppose others wish to hear. Good and well written! I’ll come back to your website without a doubt!

  75. Rosane says

    “The best fats to consume and cook with are those that are the most saturated: butter, coconut oil, ghee, tallow, duck & goose fat. Pretty much the opposite of what we’ve been told.”

    I’m so confused now. Aren’t saturated fats bad for you? I understand that to cook with it’s best to use saturated fat, as the smoke point in vegetable oils can be lower than the cooking one, thus harmful by creating more free radicals. Not to mention they could cause an imbalance in the omega 3 and 6 ratio. However, consuming saturated fats, I thought, would be s different matter, giving room, in this case, to monounsaturated fats, like olive oil, as long as not used for cooking. Could you please clarify that? Am I killing myself and loved ones trying to be healthy?

    • says

      There is no doubt that saturated fats are not as healthy for you as unsaturated. But, they are leaps and bounds better than trans-fats. I believe those will do you in. I try to use as little fat as possible to cook with and have been sticking to cannola. I think the critical question is “how do I get more Omega-3 fatty acids?” We know for a fact that the closer your Omega-6 to omega 3 ratio approaches 1:1, the higher the conversion of ALA to EPA and DHA.

      • Kelly says

        Canola? Or as you spelled it, “cannola”? That’s one of the WORST oils to use, in any fashion, especially cooking with it.

        You also have to consider the fact that most foods, including vegetables, include decent amounts of omega 6.

        As Chris, says, saturated fats are indeed the healthier option over ANY type of unsaturated oil.

  76. says

    This is the right blog for anyone who wants to find out about this topic. You realize so much its almost hard to argue with you (not that I actually would want…HaHa). You definitely put a new spin on a topic thats been written about for years. Great stuff, just great!

  77. says

    Great information! I’d learned about the imbalance of fats and inflammation in my Nutrition Masters program, and appreciate the depth of information you presented. What is the best strategy for decreasing inflammation – increase omega-3, decrease omega-6 or both?

  78. Anonymous says

    What is the difference between Fish Oil with Omega-3 and Omega-3 and Omega-6. Which is better. I am confused.

  79. Nigel - Africa says

    I will go with chris’ research conclusions as I have seen in this part of the world what over consumption does to people and that actually grilled meats and fishes along with lots of dark & green vegetables boiled or cooked with very little oil is most healthy. Yes I can see how consuming more n6 oils will negate the effects of n3 body assimilation effects. I have 2 people who are aged 90 and have used just the above formula above that I am talking about in confidently going with Chris here. In fact the 2 subjects that I have been observing seem to be doing something else very unique that I see more the reason that they are bright, fully functional and standing walking human beings still very much contributing to society and a total inspiration to me. I won’t divulge the secret of their longevity but you are free to email me if you like..well done Chris!!

  80. Adlok Huuungry says


    I may be slightly off topic, but I thought I’d respond to the lifespan concern in order to help clear up your doubts about the context of the main topic (n-6:n-3 ratios in the diet).
    I’ve recently read a bit about the oft referenced “Lifespan Issue” when discussing our pre-agricultural ancestors. Many of us assume that the average life span (more specifically Average Life Expectancy At Birth) of around 35 – 38 of pre-historic people means 35 – 38 represented ripe old age. This simply is not the case. Average life span is heavily skewed by infant and child death (of which there was much more). When measuring Average Life Expectancy at age 15, for example, many modern hunter gatherers, and those ancient ones for which such data is attainable, match or exceed modern industrial people; and that all without the help of modern sanitation, antibiotics, dental care, etc.
    I do wish I could point to all the relevant sources for this point, but I cannot a this time, so I encourage you to take what i say with a grain of salt and look into it when/if you can. I believe you will find that my main point stands up to scrutiny.

    • Kalle says

      Hi, I’d appreciate a reference to a source of information about hunter-gatherers having a high life-expectancy at the age of 15.

  81. Rob says


    Enjoyed reading your article, and appreciate the skepticism. Two questions for you: You stated “Throughout 4-5 million years of hominid evolution, diets were abundant in seafood and other sources of omega-3 long chain fatty acids…”. This really contradicts the paradigms I have of the hunter-gatherers that did not live along a coast. Assuming many of these were migrant groups, is it realistic that they would be able to catch that much seafood as they moved from lake-to-lake or river-to-river? (And if so, I wish they’d passed that knowledge on to me – I have enough trouble catching fish with a rod and reel!).

    You also stated “(Anthropological research) indicates that both ancient and modern hunter-gatherers were free of the modern inflammatory diseases, like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes, that are the primary causes of death and morbidity today.” While the modern examples are intriguing, isn’t it reasonable to think that the average lifespan of our ancient ancestors was such that would make comparisons quite skewed? You are suggesting that a single change “…perhaps more than any other dietary factor, has contributed to the epidemic of modern disease.” Yet the average life expectancy has continued to rise, (almost doubling since the Industrial Revolution). There seem to be too many variables here to use the lack of certain diseases in our ancient ancestors as evidence to support your argument.

    Finally – ha! – please share the magic ratio of olive oil to canola oil mentioned in your article: “One study showed that replacing corn oil with olive oil and canola oil to reach an n-6:n-3 ratio of 4:1 led to a 70% decrease in total mortality.” That’s going to put a big dent in the life insurance business…

  82. Alex S says

    Tom, what is your website?

    Even if I don’t agree, I like to keep up with what people like David H. Freedman, or Ben Goldacre have to say!

  83. Tom says

    Now to be clear, I do not claim that these are five different sources. There are five links because I’m labouring the point. It is just the one, very good source. He’s a doctor and I’m not, and he has more access to journals than I do, so maybe on reflection you should flame him instead of me. He likes it, anyway!
    Update: There are only two links, after all. I suspect that this website simply doesn’t allow links from ‘bad science dot net’. If you can see this, I was probably right! to get the others just do what I did. I typed ‘badscience omega 3′ into Google.
    And no, I don’t mention Ben Goldacre being a doctor in order to say, “Therefore he is right.” I judge his authority in many ways, none so simple. If another doctor disagrees with him, I won’t be suddenly confused. I will scrutinise what they say, just as much as I do for Ben Goldacre.
    My current preconception is that they would fail to convince me!

    • Chris Kresser says

      Tom: I approved a couple of your comments and spammed the rest. I’m happy to entertain different points of view here, but this isn’t your personal soapbox. If you want one of those, feel free to start your own blog.

  84. Tom says


    Omega-3 is shown by ZERO evidence to have ANY health benefits.

    Sorry, suckers! (Now flame me.)

    “Anthropological research suggests that our hunter-gatherer ancestors consumed omega-6 and omega-3 fats in a ratio of roughly 1:1.”
    Bollocks! How could they know a thing like that? Educated guesses about available food? What anthropologists (including archaeologists) find from empirical evidence is that humans today and in the past have survived equally well on a very wide range of diets.
    “How could they know a thing like that?” is a question this article keeps provoking in me. Perhaps they should ask such questions themselves? One thing the article certainly is not, is ‘healthy skepticism’.
    Even if it weren’t full of such objectionable statements as that one, it would still only amount to a desperate, elaborate validation of this damned fish oil hypothesis, not confirmation.

    This post will continue in a moment. Something in the content is stopping it from posting! Just working out what.


  85. Tom says

    I couldn’t post my full message.
    This post is just a test, to see if the simplest one possible works, with no formatting or links etc.

  86. Jane says

    Get your facts straight. You are spewing complete misinformation. EPA and DHA are not essential fatty acids.

    The only essental fatty acids are ALA and LA. We need more PARENT omega 6 . Look into Brian Peskin. SCIENCE , NOT opinion.

    • Chris Kresser says

      Read the articles and the studies I cited. I’ve read Peskin. I’ve also read hundreds of studies that contradict his view. The entire point of this series of articles is that the FAs considered to be essential are not essential. You might want to actually read an article before you leave a comment on it.

  87. Chris Kresser says


    Below is a response from a communication I had with Stephan Guyenet from Whole Health Source about this study:

    Regarding omega-6. There are a few issues here. One is the studies that show that the people who eat the most n-6 “have the least inflammation”. IIRC, he’s talking about observational studies showing that people with the highest n-6 intake have lower levels of circulating markers of inflammation. First of all, it’s highly susceptible to “healthy user bias”; as I’m pretty sure if you looked at those studies most of the smokers would be in the low n-6 category. These studies are typically conducted in populations in which nearly everyone has an excessive n-6 intake and a poor n-6:3 balance, so it’s hard to make any broad conclusions. But also, circulating markers of inflammation (CRP, IL-6 etc) really are a poor surrogate for tissue inflammation, which is much more complex and difficult to measure.

    He mentions that some n-6 eicosanoids are involved in resolving inflammation, which is true. However, n-3 are involved in it as well. The more n-6 you eat, the more it blocks EPA and DHA production from ALA, which you need to make inflammation-resolving n-3 eicosanoids. So even though you still have the resolving n-6 eicosanoids, that’s only half the puzzle.

    By the way, I think there are also likely to be negative effects of excess n-6, and particularly veg oils, on health that don’t depend on eicosanoids.

  88. Roger Kaza says

    He kindly sent me a PDF of the article.  It says “Author’s Personal Copy” on it, so I don’t think I should post it, but send me an e-mail address and I will forward it.

  89. enliteneer says

    I couldn’t find the full article anywhere either!     But according to WorldCat / ScienceDirect , it’s available for library use only at a nearby University.  Hopefully, they have a copy machine!
    Incidentally, that author, Kevin Fritsche, seems to have published other worthwhile  articles:
    The adverse effects of an in vivo inflammatory challenge on the vitamin E status of rats is accentuated by fish oil feeding:
    Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids impair in vivo interferon- gamma responsiveness via diminished receptor signaling:

  90. Chris Kresser says

    Looks interesting, but without access to the full text I can’t comment on it.  I can say that there is a large body of evidence supporting the pro-inflammatory role of LA, both in vitro and in vivo.

  91. says

    My opinion is that you do not need much poly-unsaturated fatty acids at all. When you consume somewhere between 0.5 and 3 grams per day it’s more than enough. You easily get that out of real foods. So you don’t need sead oils or fish oils. I made a little video on the subject:

  92. says

    Can you say something about the n-6 / n-3 ratio of pastured beef, pork, lamb, chicken, and goat, as well as pastured eggs?

    Your site is FANTASTIC!

    Thank you,

    • Chris Kresser says


      Glad you like the site! Check out this chart comparing fatty acid profiles of grass-fed and grain-fed beef. Also see this study. Most of the evidence shows a higher concentration of n-3 and a lower concentration of n-6 in grass fed meat. Several studies suggest that grass-based diets elevate precursors for Vitamin A and E, as well as cancer fighting antioxidants such as glutathione (GT) and superoxide dismutase (SOD) activity as compared to grain-fed contemporaries.

      Hope that helps,

    • tickyul says

      Lots of the smaller fish have undetectable levels of Mercury and other toxins.

      These low-level fish have short life spans and do not consume things that have high levels of toxins.

    • Lauren says

      Krill is low on the food chain and doesn’t contain mercury or PCBs. And it’s more potent than regular fish oil. Try it as a supplement.

  93. Chris Kresser says

    Grass-fed meat has more n-3 than factory-farmed meat.  The difference is very small, but it’s there.

    Our ancestors likely got EPA & DHA from seafood and consuming the brains of ruminants.

  94. Chris Kresser says

    I ignored it on purpose.  I don’t believe they’re anywhere near as important as the n-3 and n-6, and not at all as common in the diet.

  95. says

    Your point on Omega-3s, -6s, and -9s ignores the Omega-7s.  I don’t know much about them, as they have only come to my attention recently, but they are there…

  96. says

    The article only mentioned fats from oils, and neglected fats from animal tissue.  Mammals and birds are also 100% deficient in Omega-3.  The primary fatty acid in beef is Arachidonic Acid, an Omega-6.  It has been found that many vegetarian societies are actually deficient in this fatty acid, yet most Americans are flooded with it.  As with most substances, too much is as bad or worse than too little.

  97. Chris Kresser says

    The more unsaturated an oil is, the more easily it oxidizes.  Flax is omega-3, which is very unsaturated.  That’s why it’s imperative never to cook with it.  In fact, it must be stored in the refrigerator in opaque containers to prevent oxidation from light and heat.  There’s no reason to consume flax oil anyways, as I stated before.

    The best fats to cook with are saturated, because they’re relatively protected against oxidation.  Coconut oil, butter, ghee, and animal fats like tallow are all good choices.

    Olive oil is less inflammatory than omega-6 oils, but still has a significant amount of omega-6 so should be used in moderation.

    • Bob says

      “There’s no reason to consume flax oil anyways, as I stated before.”

      Have you heard of or studied the work of Johanna Budwig? Her whole life’s work was spent on this topic and she no doubt, and many others, myself included, take exception to such a profound pronouncement. Check it out sometime.

      • Jane says

        This doctor needs to meet doctor Michael Gregor…who speaks extensively on flaxseed.. It sounds like this site is against plant based diet which makes it quite one sided

  98. enliteneer says

    Just to add to the list,  Olive oil is mostly Omega-9, with only about 10% omega-6.     Grape Seed Oil  (popular in Chile),  is mostly (~75%) omega-6.
    So what about Omega-9s?   How does it relate to Omega-3s?   Is it also pro-inflammation?
    Due to the lower omega-6 content, I would think Olive or Flaxseed oil (or even Canola) would be the ideal cooking oil, yet I don’t often hear it touted for cooking.. why?    The relatively low smoke temperature (200’s F)?

    • linda kruse says

      I am learning that oils with low smoke temp can be used at lower heats on stove to saute vegetables and do cooking. It is new for me as I have always done stir frys at high temperatures. Learning how to use oils and stove more effectively, even at my age. Hope this creates awareness and thinking. Open to comments.

    • says

      The some point of extra virgin olive oil is 200 celsius/centigrade and NOT 200 Farenheit
      Olive oil has one of the highest smoke points (avocado is higher).
      All refined vegetable oils have a higher smoke point compared to their corresponding cold pressed.
      To compare, butter has ca 150 centigrade.

    • Dorie says

      When cooking with oils at high temps it is tuned into rancid inflammatory oxidized poison. Look into avocado oil for it’s high temp resistance.
      Who recommends canola, that is some old tech people? that stuff is so bad highly refined and rancid as it sits on the shelf. My joints hurt just thinking about it.
      Soy? xenoestrogens, phytoestrogens. Man boobs and early puberty for girls- hormone disrupters.
      Antibiotics used in dairy cows by the gallons, are helpful in creating multi drug resistant organisms that are rampant now, thanks for that. and everything is fed with GMO corn. Cows, chickens, fish. If you don’t eat organic grass fed and finished, free range, and wild caught, who knows what you’re eating? And now all the oceans are poisoned and radioactive? Now what? Oh our lovely flouridated chlorinated drinking water yeah.

  99. Chris Kresser says


    I’m not sure what the asterisk means.  I pulled that graphic from a website a while back and now I can’t find it.

    Olive oil is between 55 and 83% omega-9 (monounsaturated), and 3.5 and 21% omega-6 (polyunsaturated).  The fatty acid content varies by the region where it’s produced.

    On average, according to Wikipedia, olive oil contains 11% omega-6 LA.  That is still quite high, which is why I only recommend olive oil in moderation.

    The best fats to consume and cook with are those that are the most saturated: butter, coconut oil, ghee, tallow, duck & goose fat.  Pretty much the opposite of what we’ve been told.

    • Caleb says

      I would assume the asterisk is meant to clarify that fish oil is high in n-3 when it is caught in the wild instead of farmed. :)

        • says

          I take Laminine Omega. LPGN sources its fish oil from Engraulis Ringens, a member of the anchovy family, found in the Humboldt Current off the coast of South America near Peru, where the waters are clean and clear. Phytoplankton that the Engraulis Ringens species consumes in this region is rich in DHA and EPA, giving the fish the highest naturally occurring ratios of DHA and EPA of any other fish species. The fish oil also undergoes molecular distillation, and is tested before and after the process to remove gunk and toxins and ensure the safety of the oil.

          It is patented and has Omega fatty Acids 3 (EPA and DHA),CoQ10(Extended Release), Vitamin K2… It is made in USA; head office is in California. That’s why delivery and handling is free in the States and to me it is convenient. Delivery varies from 3 to 8 days. I found this online and have been ordering it online as well . You click Join if you want to be a member and get the member’s price Or click retail order if you don’t want to be a member.

          So far, I’m very satisfied with this product.

        • Alan Friedman says

          sandi lampiris asked:
          “Why is farm-raised fish missing omega-3?”

          That all depends what the fish are fed. If they are fed grain (e.g. corn) based feed, then it will be high in omega-6. If they are fed fish meal from fish that ate omega-3-rich algae, then they will have the expected omega-3’s but still be likely to consume a lot of antibiotics, growth hormones, effluents, and local land-based pollutants. (Does anybody have solid data on fish feeds???)

          • Ken L. says

            Commercial fish feed
            The first 10 ingredients of Skretting’s “Winter Plus 3500″ salmon feed lists these as the first nine ingredients:
            Poultry Meal, Fish Meal, Poultry Fat, Fish Oil, Whole Wheat, Soybean Meal, Corn Gluten Meal, Feather Meal, Rapeseed Oil.
            The whole label is here:

            Note the chicken products. According to a doctor (Who did not give any references) the avian flue in migrating birds that arrived on US shore, was from birds who’s rout took them over areas where they farm fish. The fish had been fed the farmed chickens that got it and were disposed of that way.
            This could be just a conspiracy story.

    • Guy says

      Clearly that graph is a bit misleading, fish most certainly has omega-6 PUFAs, although yes usually in pretty high 3 to 6 ratios. Just look on or or somewhere, not hard.

    • Madee says

      I would believe that the asterisk means only wild caught fish, since farmed fish are being fed diets similar to grain-fed cattle and pigs, thus the ratio of their fat will lean more towards omega 6. Another thing of note is that animals eating a more natural diet (rotational grazing) have fat much higher in omega 3.

    • says

      Hi Chris,
      When I live din south-western France, I was a big fan of goose and duck fat — until I realized that modern ducks and geese are fed corn! (Which has no omega-3 and is high in omega-6).
      As for ghee, I’m concerned by reports that modern dairy fat contains high concentrations of estrogens because dairy cows are milked while pregnant (when their estrogen levels are 13 times higher than when they’re not…). One study published last year found that breast cancer survivors consuming high-fat cows’ milk foods had a higher risk of dying from breast cancer than women eating little to no high-fat dairy. (I wrote about this here: What do you make of this?
      Thanks & best, Conner

    • Pam Butler says

      Hi, I’m trying to figure out why I’m getting more ill with Autoimmune disease. Type 1 diabetes, lupus, Hashimotos….I try to eat right but am getting worse. I think either our food or the meds I take are poisoning me…making my body attack itself. I’m having problems with toxic levels of triglycerides…over 1200 last month. I’m a nurse no longer working due to my conditions….spend much time trying to figure out what is going on with me. I have just found this site and hope you could help me. I try to eat a “healthy” diet with lots of whole grains, only use olive oil, rarely eat meat but do use dairy…my go to for protein is cheese. I also love to snack on pumpkin seeds with the shell…fiber? Anyway, I’m having increasing triglycerides….could it be the liberal use of olive oil. They are trying me on high dose fish oil but I just realized my horrible abdominal pain is being caused by this. Crestor and the other statins cause my already overwhelming muscle pain to become unbearable. I’m running out of options. Feel like I need to go somewhere and live in a health “rehab” type environment to figure it out. Help?!

      • Deborah says

        I lowered my triglyceride levels ( from 300 to 89 in 6 months) by cutting out all white foods except cauliflower. No grains, sugar ( which is highly inflamatory) or white potatoes. I have lost 25lbs over that six months and lowered my HgA1C from 9.6 to 6.6. Try it and see if that helps. Eat lots of veggies, cheese, eggs, and grass fed meat if at all possible. I know it is more expensive but you can eat less and eat well. The fats help with satiaty.

      • Jimmygu3 says

        Hi Pam,
        Your symptoms sound very similar to the documentary I just watched, and the guy cured all his autoimmune, inflammation, and obesity issues by drinking nothing but vegetable juice. It’s on Netflix: Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead (sorry for the title). I’m personally more a proponent of eating lots of veggies, rather than juicing, but it worked for him. Also I just read that pumpkin seeds are ultra high in n-6, so inflammatory. Good luck and hope you feel better!

      • CCalame says

        If you will read Dr Esselstyn’s book called preventing and reversing heart disease and follow his diet exactly your triglycerides and total chlolesterol will drop like a rock and many of your health problems will go away over time. He has saved many people with major heart disease only by following his diet. Google his name and listen to his presentations on Youtube. I wish you the best.

      • Marilyn says

        You will do better to get the grains/starches completely out of your diet. I also have autoimmune issues, Hashimoto’s among them. I was having terrible intestinal issues, came close to losing part of my colon from infection. I have seen a dramatic improvement in my situation by going completely grain-free. Joint pain gone, blood pressure normalized, sleep greatly improved.

        Modified “primal” eating has been a god-send.

      • Paul Catherall says

        Excellent article. To help Pam Butler I suggest reading The OmegaRx Zone by Dr Barry Sears. To get the real maximum from the omega3 you need to control insulin levels first. It explains that you can take the guess work out by measuring your AA to EPA ratio (maintain 1.5 to 3 but note this is of plasma not cells). It sounds like you could have too many carbohydrates. Secondly check for gluten sensitivity (not the same as full blown coeliacs ) and read The Grain Brain by David Perlmutter. As Chris kresser says, the inflammation affects many diseases. I came at it from cancer research, the first author Dr Sears from cardiac disease and the second author from neurology. Thanks again Chris, I hope this helps.

      • Nils says

        Hi Pam, there’s a clue in your comment to what may be wrong. You mention taking statin drugs, and then say that your health is getting worse and worse. Could the statins be causing your problems? Specifically, statin drugs interfere with CoQ10, which is absolutely essential for health. If I were on statins, or had been on them in the past, I would immediately start dosing with CoQ10 and its activated form, ubiquinol.

        Also, unless your cholesterol levels are ten times higher than normal, are you absolutely sure you need statins? They are often overprescribed, and can do a great deal of damage.

        Apart from that, if I were in your situation, just speaking personally not professionally, I would do these things:

        • take organic non-hydrogenated coconut oil every day
        • stop using the olive oil for a couple of months
        • switch to liquid fish oil from Carlson (the purest)
        • add chia seeds soaked in water to my diet (for chia oil)

        Good luck, I hope you experience improvement.

      • Kim says

        Hi Pam-
        I don’t know if you’ll see this, but if you’re anywhere near the state of Oklahoma, there is a phenomenal doctor in Tulsa that may be able to help you. His name is Dr. Roadhouse. Hope you feel better soon!

      • Ken L. says

        Pam I would try it without the grains for a week and look into the fodmap diet. a lot of different types of healthy fiber cause problems for some people. The healthier they go the sicker they feel. I’m not medically trained just a possibility for you to look at.
        Also Lyme disease does a lot of weird things and is often misdiagnosed.
        Good luck!

    • Victoria says

      Thank you for the great articles. For optimal Omega-3, would you recommend avocado oil or coconut oil for cooking. I’ve been cooking on ghee and avocado oil, and was wondering if coconut oil is even better than avocado. thank you

  100. Jeff says

    What is the asterisk (on fish oil) indicating in the table?  Also, I would love to see more discussion on olive oil.
    I don’t use vegetable/corn oil in my home cooking at all, although I haven’t checked how much I am exposed through buying processed/restaurant food.

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