Ratio of fatty acids in different foods

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The biological effects of the ω-3 and ω-6 fatty acids are mediated by their mutual interactions, but it is unclear whether the dietary ratio of omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids is important for human health.[1]

Ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats in the diets of hunter-gatherers[edit]

It has been claimed that among hunter-gatherer populations, omega-3 fats and omega-6 fats are typically consumed in roughly a 1:1 ratio.[2] At one extreme of the spectrum of hunter-gatherer diets, the Greenland Inuit, prior to the late Twentieth Century, consumed a diet in which omega-6s and omega-3s were consumed in a 1:2 ratio, thanks to a diet rich in cold-water fish (which are a rich source of omega-3s) and completely devoid of omega-6-rich seed oils.[3]

Optimal ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats[edit]

To date, "no one knows what the optimal ratio in the diet is for these two families of fats."[4] Susan Allport writes that the current ratio in Japan is associated with a very low incidence of heart and other diseases. A dietary ratio of 4:1 produces almost a 1:1 ratio of highly unsaturated fatty acids (HUFAs) in cell membranes."[4][clarification needed]

Andrew Stoll, who advocates the consumption of the two fats in a 1:1 ratio, states, "Once in the body, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids follow parallel pathways, continually competing with each other for chemical conversion to various structures and molecules inside and outside the cells. Given this mechanism, it makes sense that the two fats might be required in approximately equal amounts."[5]

Both Stoll and Allport assert that present-day diets in the developed world have departed dramatically from this ratio. It has been estimated that in developed countries, the ratio of Omega-6s to Omega-3s is closer to 15:1[6] Another estimate is that "[t]he diet consumed by the typical American tends to contain 14 - 25 times more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3 fatty acids."[7][permanent dead link]

Fish[edit]

Food Citation Serving Size (g) Omega-6 fatty acids (mg) Omega-3 fatty acids (mg) Omega-6 : Omega-3 ratio
Atlantic Salmon, wild, raw [8] 100 172 2018 1 : 11.7
Atlantic Sardines, canned in oil, drained [9] 1 can
(92 g)
3260 1362 2.4 : 1
Tuna, canned in water, drained [10] 1 can
(165 g)
14.8 460 1 : 31.1
Tuna, canned in oil, drained [11] 1 can
(171 g)
4,588 345 13.3 : 1
Cod, fresh and frozen [citation needed] 4 oz
(113 g)
100 600 1 : 6
Mackerel, canned, drained [12] 1 can
(361 g)
357 4970 1 : 13.9
Swordfish, fresh and frozen, cooked [citation needed] 4 oz
(113 g)
300 1700 1 : 5.6
Crab, soft shell, cooked [citation needed] 4 oz
(113 g)
100 600 1 : 6
Lobster, cooked [citation needed] 4 oz
(113 g)
6 120 1 : 20
Bluefish, fresh and frozen, cooked [citation needed] 4 oz
(113 g)
300 1700 1 : 5.6
Salmon, canned, drained [citation needed] 4 oz
(113 g)
200 2200 1 : 11
Smelt, rainbow [citation needed] 4 oz
(113 g)
200 500 1 : 2.5
Scallops, Maine, fresh and frozen, cooked [citation needed] 4 oz
(113 g)
100 500 1 : 5
Pacific herring [13] 100 g 246 2418 1 : 9.8

Nuts and seeds[edit]

Food Citation Serving Size (g) Omega-6 (mg) Omega-3 (mg) Omega-6 : Omega-3 ratio
Almonds, dry roasted [14] 100 12065 6 2010.8 : 1
Cashews [15] 100 7782 62 125.5 : 1
Chia seeds [16] 100 5785 17552 1 : 3
Coconut, raw [17] 100 366 - -
Flax seeds [18] 100 5911 22813 1 : 3.9
Hazelnuts, filberts [19] 100 7832 87 90 : 1
Pecans [20] 100 20630 986 20.9 : 1
Pistachios, raw [21] 100 13200 254 52 : 1
Poppy seed [22] 100 28291 273 103.6 : 1
Pumpkin seeds, whole, roasted, without salt [23] 100 8759 77 113.8 : 1
Sesame seeds, whole, dried [24] 100 21372 376 56.8 : 1
Sunflower seeds, kernels, dried [25] 100 23048 74 311.5 : 1
Walnuts [26] 100 38092 9079 4.2 : 1
Sacha Inchi seeds [27] 1 oz
(28 g)
5486 4771 1.15 : 1
Lentils, mature seeds, cooked, boiled, without salt [28] 100 137 37 3.7 : 1

Oils[edit]

Food Citation Serving Size Omega-6 (mg) Omega-3 (mg) Omega-6 : Omega-3 ratio
Avocado oil [29] 1 Tbsp (14 g) 1754 134 13.09 : 1
Butter [30] 1 Tbsp (14 g) 382 44.1 8.7 : 1
Canola oil [31] 1 Tbsp (14 g) 2610 1279 2 : 1[32]
Coconut oil [33] 1 Tbsp (14 g) 243 - -
Cod liver oil [34] 1 Tbsp (14 g) 126 2664 1 : 21.1
Corn oil [35] 1 Tbsp (14 g) 7224 157 46 : 1[32]
Cotton seed oil [36] 1 Tbsp (14 g) 6953 27 257.5 : 1
Flax seed oil [37] 1 Tbsp (14 g) 1715 7196 1 : 4.2
Ghee
Grape seed oil [38] 1 Tbsp (14 g) 9395 13.5 696 : 1
Hemp seed oil [39][40] ? ? ? 2:1-3:1 [note 1]
Lard [41] 1 Tbsp (13 g) 1300 128 10.2 : 1
Olive oil [42] 1 Tbsp (14 g) 1318 103 12.8 : 1
Palm oil [43] 1 Tbsp (14 g) 1228 27 45.5 : 1
Peanut oil [44][full citation needed] 1 Tbsp (14 g) 4950 - -
Sardine oil [45] 1 Tbsp (14 g) 272 3253 1 : 12
Soybean oil (hydrogenated) [46] 1 Tbsp (14 g) 6116 378 16.2 : 1
Soybean oil, (Unhydrogenated) [47] 1 Tbsp (14 g) 6807 917 7.4 : 1[32]
Tallow (Grain Fed) [48] 3.35% 0.200% 16.3 : 1
Tallow (Grass Fed) [48] 1.2% 0.8% 1.4 : 1
Walnut oil [49] 1 Tbsp (14 g) 7141 1404 5.1 : 1

Grains and beans[edit]

Food Citation Serving Size (g) Omega-6 (mg) Omega-3 (mg) Omega-6 : Omega-3 ratio
Matpe (Vigna mungo bean), boiled [50] 100 24 335 1 : 14
Peanut, All types, raw [51] 100 15691 3 5320.3 : 1
Soybeans, dried, cooked [52] 100 4466 598 7.5 : 1
Tofu, regular [53] 100 2380 319 7.5 : 1
Nattō, regular [54] 100 5476 734 7.5 : 1
Chickpeas, mature seeds, cooked, boiled, without salt [55] 100 1113 43 25.9 : 1

Green, leafy vegetables[edit]

Food Citation Serving Size (g) Omega-6 (mg) Omega-3 (mg) Omega-6 : Omega-3 ratio
Arugula raw [56] 1 cup 26 34 1 : 1.3
Green leaf lettuce, fresh, raw [57] 100 24 58 1 : 2.4
Red leaf lettuce, fresh, raw [58] 100 - - -
Boston lettuce or Bibb lettuce, fresh, raw [citation needed] 1 cup - - -
Brussels sprouts cooked [59] 100 79 173 1 : 2.2
Cabbage red, raw [60] 100 34 45 1 : 1.3
Chinese cabbage cooked, boiled, drained, without salt [61] 100 31 41 1 : 1.3
Chard, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt [62] 1 cup 43.7 5.3 8.2 : 1
Sauerkraut, canned, low sodium [63] 100 26 25 1 : 1
Spinach, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt [64] 100 17 92 1 : 5.4
Turnip greens, cooked [65] 100 28 64 1 : 2.3
Dandelion greens, cooked [citation needed] 1/2 cup - 0.1 -
Kale, cooked [citation needed] 1/2 cup 0.1 0.1 1 : 1
Kohlrabi raw [66] 1 cup 27 35 1 : 1.7
Beet greens, cooked [67] 100 65 6 10.8 : 1
Collard greens, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt [68] 1 cup 133 177 1 : 1.3
Mustard greens, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt [69] 100 24 22 1.1 : 1

Root vegetables[edit]

Food Citation Serving Size (g) Omega-6 (mg) Omega-3 (mg) Omega-6 : Omega-3 ratio
Carrots, raw [70] 100 115 2 57.5 : 1
Beets, raw [71] 100 55 5 11 : 1
Parsley, raw [72] 100 115 8 14.4 : 1
Turnips, raw [73] 100 12 40 1 : 3.3

Pumpkins and squashes[edit]

Food Citation Serving Size (g) Omega-6 (mg) Omega-3 (mg) Omega-6 : Omega-3 ratio
Butternut squash, Squash, winter, butternut, cooked, baked, without salt [74] 100 14 24 1 : 1.7
Zucchini, Squash, summer, zucchini, includes skin, raw [75] 100 14 24 1 : 1.7
Acorn squash, Squash, winter, acorn, cooked, baked, without salt [76] 1 cup 451 759 1 : 1.7
Tomatoes, Tomatoes, red, ripe, raw [77] 100 80 3 26.7 : 1

Meat[edit]

Food Citation Serving Size Omega-6 (%) Omega-3 (%) Omega-6 : Omega-3 ratio
Kangaroo, average of all cuts and species. Measured on raw cut weight. [78][permanent dead link] % of total fat 27.4 10.7 2.5 : 1

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The authors state the ratio as Omega-6:Omega-3 and that it lies "between 2:1 and 3:1".

References[edit]

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  2. ^ "Populations maintaining historic omega-6 to omega-3 ratios (approximately 1 to 1) are protected from many of the scourges of the modern age." Source: Andrew Stoll, The Omega-3 Connection. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2001, p. 43.
  3. ^ William Lands, Fish, Omega-3 and Human Health. Urbana, Illinois: APCS Press, 2005, p. 10.
  4. ^ a b Susan Allport, The Queen of Fats: Why Omega-3 Fats Were Removed From the Western Diet and What We Can Do to Replace Them. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007, p. 115.
  5. ^ Andrew Stoll, The Omega-3 Connection. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2001, p. 40.
  6. ^ Simopoulos, AP (2002). "The importance of the ratio of omega-6/omega-3 essential fatty acids". Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy. 56 (8): 365–79. doi:10.1016/S0753-3322(02)00253-6. PMID 12442909.
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