Ideal Sources of Omega-3

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How do you achieve a good omega 3 to omega 6 fatty acid ratio?

What would you suggest as an ideal omega 3,6,9?

Eric / Originally asked on Avoiding Cholesterol is a No Brainer

Answer:

I try to think in terms of whole food sources rather than nutrients (have you read The China Study? It has a whole chapter trying to make that point). I’d be happy to talk with you about ratios and percentages, but in terms of practical advice I’d encourage people to minimize their intake of the omega-6 rich oils (such as safflower, sunflower, and cottonseed, and all of the processed garbage manufacturers make with them), and try to eat healthy omega-3 rich whole foods such as walnuts and flax seeds every day (which have their own benefits–see for example my videos Fighting Inflammation in a Nut Shell, Black Versus English Walnuts, Breast Cancer Survival and Lignan Intake, and Just the Flax, Ma’am). And especially for men as well as women who are expecting, breastfeeding, or even thinking about getting pregnant I would encourage consideration of taking an algae- or yeast-derived long-chain omega-3 supplement.

Image credit: Pauline Mak / Flickr

Discuss

Michael Greger M.D., FACLM

Michael Greger, M.D. FACLM, is a physician, New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous "meat defamation" trial.


79 responses to “How do you achieve a good omega 3 to omega 6 fatty acid ratio?

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  1. I have been told in my nutrition class though that to get the omega-3 fatty acids from flax seeds, they need to be ground. Cereals and breads with added flax seeds usually use whole flax seeds which just come back out intact of your system, no benefits gained.

    1. Correct… you can either buy milled flaxseed (which you should keep refrigerated since the protective husk has been compromised), or give ordinary flaxseed a spin in your electric coffee grinder to compromise the husk. I buy Bob’s Red Mill Organic Ground Flax Seed Meal for less than $5 a bag, and keep it refrigerated.

        1. Leo, why shouldn’t we worry about Omega-6? I’ve read some research that suggests it is a good idea to limit our intake of Omega-6. I find it convincing.

    1. Omega 9 is a nonessential fat, meaning your body can make enough of it without ingestion. there are only 2 fats your body needs from nutritional sources, that is omega 3 and omega 6. The ratio of omega 6:3 should be 4:1 or better. Better being more omega 3, less omega 6. Going past the 4:1 ratio is easy if you eat lots of nuts and seeds other then walnuts, flaxseeds and chia seeds.

      Peanuts have a ratio of 4400:1
      Almonds have a ratio of 1800:1
      Brazil nuts have a ratio of 500:1

      Limiting your intake of nuts in general will prove healthful. Most greens and fruits contain naturally occurring omega 3 and 6 and the ratios are typically 4:1 or better.

      1. But the amount of omega 3 in fruits and greens is generally very low so it probably won’t affect the ratio over the day if you also eat nuts and seeds. I think.

        Greger recommends eating nuts and seeds, right? But there is so much omega 6 and not so much omega 3 in most nuts and seeds with exceptions like flax seeds, walnuts, chia seeds and hemp seeds. They have omega 6 but also omega 3. So eating nuts and seeds will probably result in too high omega 6 levels. I eat ~50g soaked almonds every day and will start with something like 100g hemp and 50g chia seeds a day as soon as I have them at home. And a brazil nut of course. :) But that’s about it when it comes to nuts and seeds.

        When it comes to the omega 3 in the omega 6 / 3 ratio, is ALA fine or does it have to be the EPA/DHA fatty acids?

          1. But.. the proportion of linolenic acid to alpha-linolenic acid is high in nuts. Where did you get this ratio?

            Almonds have a ratio of 1800:1

            According to wiki, almonds have 29% linolenic acid. According to wiki, walnuts have more linolenic acid than ALA. I don’t get it.

            1. Hi Julien.

              The ratio is derived from the amount of omega 6 divided by the amount of omega 3. To do this, you have to look at the nutrition profile of the food itself. The ratio of almonds was shared from Jeff Novick, although his numbers are slightly off. If you check out 100 grams of almonds, there are 12065 mg of Omega 6. There are 6 mg of omega 3. Divide these numbers and you get 2010. So the ratio is 2010:1

              http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/nut-and-seed-products/3085/2

              Walnuts have nearly 4:1.

              http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/nut-and-seed-products/3138/2

      2. I like to hear from others on this but evidently the Omega ratio is not important anymore or is not regarded to bes as important as it was.

        1. Researchers agree that the optimal omega ratio should be between 2:1 to 4:1. That is, you should consume at least double the amount of omega-3s compared to the other fats.

  2. It doesn’t seem as simple as substituting plant source for fish or algae. Plants have alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). The conversion to omega 3’s is miserable 1-2% as I remember. If this is to work, one needs to almost stop any omega 6 sources. Or am I missing something here.

    1. I would appreciate the doctor view on this, if the conversion is only 1-2% as opposed to fish which is higher, then why bother eating walnuts and flaxseeds?

      1. Latest study shows conversion at 0.5%-9%, depending on the individual. A male would have to consume between 4 and 10 tablespoons to flaxseed to reach the recommended daily DHA dose.

        1. Jones: Two thoughts for you:

          1) If you truly eat a rounded whole plant food based (WPFB) diet, then you get a fair amount of your omega 3 needs just from the plants. So, you don’t need to get it all from the flaxseed. The flaxseed is just extra insurance.

          2) I don’t have a link at my fingertips, but I have read time and again that vegan bodies do the conversion a lot more efficiently than vegetarian and omnivore bodies. So, the concern about the low conversion rates doesn’t seem applicable to me for the group of people who follow the advice of this site.

    2. Recently published in the American Journal of Clinical
      Nutrition., this just goes to show that the conversion of plant ALA to EPA and
      DHA is not too shabby in vegans. There were four groups studied: 1) fish eaters 2) non-fish eating meat-eaters
      3) vegetarians and 4) vegans. Non-fish
      eaters were found to have much lower intake (ingestion) of omega-3 compared to
      the fish-eaters. But the difference
      between plasma (blood) levels of DHA and EPA between the groups were much
      smaller.

      fish-eaters ……………… 64.7 umol/L EPA……271 umol/L DHA

      meat eaters(no fish) …57.1 umol/L EPA…..241.3 umol/L DHA

      vegetarians……………… 55.1 umol/L EPA……223.5 umol/L DHA

      vegans………………………50 umol/L EPA………286.4 umol/L DHA

      1. JoAnn: Thanks for this post. I have seen similar information in the past. But I haven’t been able to find it. You posted at just the right time!

    3. I take an unpolluted source of algal oil for long-chain fatty acids. Fish get it from algae so why not go directly to the source?

  3. I’m confused by this strong support for nuts. McDougall and Esselstyn generally are very against nuts. And it seems that nuts are generally high in omega 6, which we are supposed to reduce. Especially the legume peanuts. I don’t know whose advice to accept here. There’s a big difference in viewpoint, no?

    1. Jeff Novick posted:

      “Most nuts have little if any omega 3s so
      they have very poor ratios of omega 6 to omega 3s.

      Black Walnuts are 16:1

      English Walnuts 4:1

      Pecans are 20:1

      Pistachio is 37:1

      Pine Nuts are 300:1

      Macadamia is 6:1

      Hazelnut is 88:1

      Cashew is 117:1

      Brazil Nut is 1000:1

      Almonds 1800:1

      Peanuts 4400:1

      Pumpkin Seeds 117:1

      Sunflower Seeds 300:1

      CA Avocados 15:1

      FL Avocados 16.5:1

      Flaxseed 3.9:1 ***

      Chia Seed 3:1 ***

      (***these is a reverse ratio as the omega 3 is higher than the omega 6)

      In regard to Saturated fat

      Black Walnuts are 5%

      English Walnuts are 8%

      Pecans are 8%

      Pistachio is 8.5%

      Pine Nuts are 6.6%

      Macadamia is 15%

      Hazelnut is 6.5%

      Cashew is 12.5%

      Brazil Nut is 21%

      Almonds are 6%

      Pumpkin Seeds 14%

      Sunflower Seeds 6.5%

      Flaxseed 6%

      Chia Seed 6%

      CA Avocados 11.5%

      FL Avocados 15%

      As you can see, most are not bad, but some are fairly high in saturated fat and
      some are really high in omega 6s. Some of these, like cashews may not be great
      choices. They are over 12% saturated fat and have a ratio of 117:1 Pumpkin
      seeds and brazil nuts are also not the best choices as they are also
      “higher” in saturated fat and have a “higher” ratio.

      An optimal diet does not require the inclusion of any one food (berries, soy,
      broccoli, etc), including nuts. And, some of what you hear about nuts, is
      somewhat distorted.

      My nutritional recommendations are the same for heart disease as they are in
      general, including my recommendations for nuts/seeds. After all, a truly
      healthy diet should not only be helpful for heart disease, it should also be
      helpful for obesity, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, hypertension, arthritis,
      cancer, etc, etc.

      Nuts are nutritious and can be a good source of some vitamins and minerals, but
      we always have to look at a food as a total package and not just any one aspect
      of it.

      Nuts, are around 70% fat. And, while most of the fat in nuts is not saturated
      fat, the very high fat content increases the calorie density of the nuts. Nuts,
      at 2800 calories per pound, are one of the most calorie dense foods there are
      on the planet. Adding foods that are high in calorie density increases the
      overall calorie density of the diet. And, as you increase the calorie density
      of someone’s diet, you increase the likelihood they will overeat. As 66% of
      Americans are overweight, and 33% of them are obese, weight (And calorie
      density) is an important issue to be considered when promoting health and
      nutrition information.

      Speaking of fat, most of the fat in most nuts is mono-unsaturated fat, which is
      not the essential fat, nor is it a “good” fat. I consider it more
      neutral at best. Plus, there is no requirement for us to consume mono
      unsaturated fat. We make plenty of it very easily.

      Most nuts, outside the English walnut are a poor source of essential fats, the
      fat that is most beneficial for heart disease. And, it only takes about 1 oz of
      English walnuts, to provide the amount of essential fats we need. More is not
      always better. In addition, these essential fats are also abundant in green
      leafy vegetables also” (as well as 1-2T ground flaxseed)

      “Walnuts are also 8.5% saturated fat, which is even above the AHA
      recommendation, so too many walnuts have the potential of interfering with
      keeping ones total saturated fat below 7%.

      Too many nuts can increase the total fat content of the diet. High fat diets can
      interfere with blood flow, increase clotting factors, and decrease performance.” Studies done with nuts are often using a control group eating a terrible SAD diet, and if the nuts are replacing a really bad food, then sure, there will be an improvement. But it doesn’t prove nuts are as beneficial to those of us easing a WFPB no oil diet with minimal processed food and low added sugar and salt. Esselstyn had stellar results in reversing heart disease and he did so with no nuts.

    2. I’m not a fan of Dr. McDougall really. His way of eating revolves too much around white potatoes and rice. I think a variety of all veggies is the proper way but I am no expert. Dr. Esselstyn recommends restricting nuts for those battling heart disease, as does Dr. Greger. In healthy individuals, nuts are good. Not saying to go eat a whole bag but a serving is good for you.

  4. After months of outbreaks of hives and three RAST tests apparently I am allergic to tree nuts, coconut and seafood. I am at my wits end trying to figure out to get the right balance of fatty acids in spite of these allergies. You can only eat so many chia and flax seeds.. Not sure if I would be allergic to krill oil but would have to take a lot of those. I have eliminated all vegetable oils from my diet to try to reduce the omega 6 as much as possible but still cannot get near even the 4:1 ratio. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

  5. I have been searching this site for over an hour looking for an explanation as to why I should be concerned with omega 3 intake and more specifically why its so important that it be DHA instead of ALA. any links to a straightforward answer would be appreciated.

    1. Carl: Here is a link to a (very) old talk from Dr. Greger. I think that some of this information (especially at the beginning) is obsolete, but the that explain about DHA, etc. are still (in my opinion) relevant and quite helpful.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7KeRwdIH04

      If you have a library or the funds to get it yourself, I also highly recommend Jeff Novick’s DVD: From Oil To Nuts. He does an awesome job of not only explaining the DHA/omega 3 issue, but a whole bunch of issues around oils. In some ways, I think Jeff’s conclusions are different from Dr. Gregers, but you still come away with a good understanding of the issue/debate.

      1. Alright the deal here is that dr. Greger does not state that the ratio isn’t important. instead he seems to say only that the ratio should be 4 to one and not the stricter one to one or two to one ratio often cited. Though he doesn’t say that going lower towards 1 to 1 would be bad for us. From a pragmatic perspective then, a good strategy would be to eat as many nuts as you can while keeping your omega ratio as close to 4 to 1 as possible so work it out from there. He doesn’t seem to say the whole plant food sources of omega-6 are not bad for us in excess. he suggests that we can have both a good ratio and a good amount of nuts.

        1. I was confused by this as well. But the truth is, all nuts except walnuts are way too high in omega 6 compared to omega 3. Walnuts have about a 4:1 ratio of omega 6 to omega 3, which is acceptable, and really wouldn’t be if the ratio were any higher. 1:1 would be awesome, and can be done, even if you eat other nuts. But you have to counter omega 6 heavily with flaxseed (which has a high amount of omega 3 compared to omega 6.) or microalgae DHA/EPA pills to cheat the whole system and get the good stuff directly :)
          I have a feeling though that if you asked Dr. Greger what he recommends, he would be a proponent of just getting 2 tablespoons of flax a day, and go ahead and enjoy other nuts without going crazy, but go ahead and have some, because they’re whole foods, which often turn out to be magically alright. Personally, I’m going to up my flaxseed intake if I am going to eat a significant amount of nuts.

        2. Researchers agree that the optimal omega ratio should be between 2:1 to 4:1. That is, you should consume at least double the amount of omega-3s compared to the other fats.

  6. Dr Greger

    You recommend a brazil nut every day for selenium, but I read that their n~3 to n~6 profile is “5.1 vs 5800 (about 1,137 times more omega 6 to 3)”. Given that I live in California, where I enjoy a wide variety of all fruits and veggies, and I eat a whole food, vegan diet, do I need to worry about getting selenium from Brazil nuts or can I skip it and stick with my walnuts, flax seeds and a few occasional treats of other nuts with less beneficial ratios?

    1. If you get your food from somewhere outside of Europe, you should be getting enough selenium. The Brazil nut is just recommended for Europeans, since selenium is lacking in the soil I guess.

  7. the takeaway point in that video seems to be that if the Omega 6 is from whole plants foods then the ratio doesn’t matter. Maybe it still matters if they come from processed foods.

  8. What I’m looking for is just a direct recommendation if possible of X grams omega 3 to Y grams omega 6.

    The recommendations I’ve seen are relatively unclear; they say get 1:1 or up to 1:4 of Omega 3:Omega 6 but then they recommend 1.6 grams omega 3 to 17 grams and omega 6. So what’s the deal?

    I have no problem getting 1.6 grams of omegas in general by eating fruits and vegetables exclusively in 3,000 plus calories daily but I’d like to know what the optimal ratio is because it wouldn’t be hard to add in some flax or some other nuts or seeds to increase either omega 3 or 6, but I’ve also heard that there’s an upper limit to omega 3 and there’s just that basic idea of the ratio that seems to have a good amount of research backing it so I want to get it right. Please clarify for me!

    1. Hard to say there is no exact requirements, but here are some percent ranges by the Institute of Medicine. They say adults should shoot for a fat intake of 20-35%, and of that 5-10% of those fat calories should come from omega-6 fats and 0.6-1.2% of those fats should come from omega-3 fats. In grams, that is 17 grams of omega-6 fat and 1.6 grams of omega 3 fats based on a 2,000 calorie diet. To me, the ratio could be better as I think many are overdoing omega-6 fat.

    2. Dr. Brooke Goldner is giving lectures around the country on this topic. And she is on the lecture circuit with other popular vegan Docs including Dr. Greger. Her explanation of how Omega fats work in the body seems to be the most cutting edge. She is getting excellent results with her clients. This video explains: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d8O5uZKIA-8&t=475s
      She explains more fully in her free live webinars.

    1. Walter, if by controversial you mean the animal products industry is
      trying hard to discredit it because it cuts into their profits, then
      yeah, it’s controversial. But the science behind the book is still good,
      and is validated every time yet another study is published showing the
      benefits of a plant-based diet over animal products.
      Industry attempts to cloud the issue remind one oh so strongly of the same
      deception the tobacco industry and the climate deniers are practicing.
      Beware the prophecies of the profiteers!

  9. I tend to get less than the recommended 17g of omega-6
    fatty acids in a day, often closer to 10, following a whole food,
    plant-based diet (based on cronometer data). My omega-3s by comparison
    are at around 3.9g a day. I’m not really sure how to easily increase my omega-6
    count without eating oils or upping my calories; is this an issue, or
    should I simply worry about the ratio?

    1. Are you eating whole foods and some nuts and seeds? It shouldn’t be a problem to get enough omega-6’s. I would hate to recommend added oil because there are such better choices and sources of essential fats. Beans and greens have these fats, but in lower doses. Pumpkin seeds and peanuts have more omega 6’s so maybe an extra ounce of either would do the trick?

    2. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH),
      only 2-3% of total calories need to come from LA and 1% of total calories from
      ALA to achieve adequate intake levels.

  10. My Mum is taking a vitamin D3 supplement which contains omega-9 (in the form of “High Omega-9 Cracked-Wall Chlorella 250 mg”) I was wondering why we would need to supplement omega 9 as I thought we get enough from fats in our food. Is omega 9 bad for you (in excess), is 250mg significant? I have found her a vegan (from lichen) based D3 supplement instead now, but just wanted to know about some evidence (or lack of evidence) about omega 9 supplements (mum had no idea that was even in there as she doesn’t even read the back of the pack just the brand name sounded good to her)?

    1. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH),
      only 2-3% of total calories need to come from LA and 1% of total calories from
      ALA to achieve adequate intake levels. The only EFAs are Omega 3&6 (ALA&LA). ALL the other fats are manufactured by the body as needed. Normally we get too much Omega 6 (which is inflammatory) and not enough Omega 3 (which is anti inflammatory). 1-2T ground flaxseed or chia seeds will supply abundant Omega 3s. There is no need to take extra Omega 6.

  11. Dear Dr. Greger – are there any studies showing the benefits, or not, of Nigella Sativa seeds? It has allegedly been used for centuries to address a large number of ailments. Its active ingredient appears to be thymoquinone. It is also commercially available in an oil form but the Omega-3 content is stated as 0.25%, Omega-6 as 58%, and Omega-9 as 22%! That does not sound like an optimal Omega-3 to Omega-6 ratio!?

  12. Hi I was hoping you can answer a question for me. I eat a high carb low fat vegan diet, and recently I have been quite good at incorporating a good amount of omega 3’s, while decreasing my omega 6s. All of the research I’ve read says to minimize Omega 6s and maximize omega 3s. However, when eating a very low fat diet I want to make sure I’m getting enough. I’ve seen lots of info about different ratios, how it should be 1 to 1, or 2 to 1…but I’m just wondering what are, in your opinion, the minimum amount of both Omega 6 and omega 3’s that could be taken in per day and still be healthy. Thank you so much. Klaireeberry

    1. Cronometer.com is a good online tool to check daily Omega 6:3 ratio. The optimum ratio is 2:1 or 1:1, certainly no more than 4:1. I eat just starches (whole grains, root veggies, legumes, winter squash), non-starchy veggies, some fruit, and 2T ground flaxseed daily. No nuts, avocados or other fatty foods. My 6:3 ratio is always between 1:1 or 2:1. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), only 2-3% of total
      calories need to come from LA and 1% of total calories from ALA to achieve
      adequate intake levels. Chia seeds are as good as ground flax. My total daily fat from calories runs between 7-10% on those foods I listed above. I sometimes eat no-oil corn tortillas, Ezekial bread occasionally which has no oil. Hope that helps!

    2. keep in mind the studies are based on a westernized diet which gets their omega-6’s (or the majority of them) from extracted refined oils in processed foods. All the evidence on consuming plant foods high in omega-6 shows that these are some of the healthiest foods we can eat.

  13. Is CLA, conjugated lineloic acid, counted as ALA – omega 6? I heard that CLA supplement cis-form aids in weight loss. I used to take CLA and found it gave me great energy levels but that only lasted a short time. I take DHA supplement, Vit B12 & D and chia and flax seeds now for the Omega 3s and I don’t want to take something which will cause inflammation.

    1. Ground flaxseed is high in Omega 3s if that’s what you’re looking for. Who eats a cup of pumpkin seeds? Just have a few. Occasionally. Of the fat in pumpkin seeds, 14% is saturated. Go easy!

      1. Thats not the point i am trying to make. Pumpkin seeds are recommended HOWEVER their omega 6 to 3 ratio is extremely gigh. And i yndersatnd dr greger doesnt recommend these foods

        1. Dr. Greger recommends whole plant foods. Pumpkin seeds are healthy. Don’t you think nature knows better than man trying to understand it? Any balance in any whole plant food is a perfect balance and how it’s meant to be. The healthiest civilizations in the world do not obsess over ratios (or even know about them/pay attention to them at all) or take supplements. Eating a cup of pumpkin seeds would have a lot of nutritional benefits (not cooked in oil or with a lot of salt added, or any salt) but honestly, they’re extremely filling so that would be a hard thing to do in the first place–another indication of nature’s perfect design.
          I also don’t think we have to worry about saturated fat at all from a whole plant diet. Too much obsessing going on these days. It’s simple stuff. We’re all going to die, let’s enjoy ourselves a little while just eating real plant foods for optimal health and living compassionately.

    2. Tammy Travis: Here’s how I understand it: The two essential fats (meaning we have to get them from our diet) is omega 3 and omega 6. So, we don’t want to minimize omega 6 in the sense of it’s always bad and we should get as little as possible. What we want to do is make sure that we don’t get so much omega 6 that our bodies are not able to properly process omega 3s. So, this is just one more reason not to eat vegetable oils such as the ones Dr. Greger mentioned above — because those oils have SO much omega 6 in them and people tend to eat a lot of oil.

      However, our need is not to always balance omega 3 and omega 6 with *every* single food individually. Our need is to balance omega 3 with 6 over the course of say a day. In other words, our diet in general should balance out these two types of fats. (The exact balance is in question, but a typical ratio I’ve seen is 1 part omega 3 for each 4 parts omega 6 – give or take.)

      Here’s how this works with something like pumpkin seeds: In his Daily Dozen recommenations, Dr. Greger recommends about 1/4 cup nuts or 1/8th cup=2 tablespoons nut butter. Unless you are eating a certain kind of walnut (good idea!), the omega 6 from the nuts is going to be way more than the omega 3 from the nuts.

      Here’s why that still OK: The Daily Dozen also recommends 1 tablespoon of flaxseed and several servings of greens/veggies, both of which have lots of omega 3 fats. In addition, Dr. Greger recommends people consider taking an algae-based DHA pill. Also, if you research the pages on NutritionFacts which cover nuts, you will see that as a package, nuts seems to be pretty healthy for us (especially when eaten in the small quantities of the Daily Dozen). There is no such body of evidence for omega 6 rich oils.

      With all that together, I’m guessing that it is perfectly find to enjoy your 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds!

      1. Arg: My post went out too soon. Here it is in full. I hope this helps.
        ——————

        Tammy Travis: Here’s how I understand it: The two essential fats (meaning we have to get them from our diet) is omega 3 and omega 6. So, we don’t want to minimize omega 6 in the sense of it’s always bad and we should get as little as possible. What we want to do is make sure that we don’t get so much omega 6 that our bodies are not able to properly process omega 3s. So, this is just one more reason not to eat vegetable oils such as the ones Dr. Greger mentioned above — because those oils have SO much omega 6 in them and people tend to eat a lot of oil.

        However, our need is not to always balance omega 3 and omega 6 with *every* single food individually. Our need is to balance omega 3 with 6 over the course of say a day. In other words, our diet in general should balance out these two types of fats. (The exact balance is in question, but a typical ratio I’ve seen is 1 part omega 3 for each 4 parts omega 6 – give or take.)

        Here’s how this works with something like pumpkin seeds: In his Daily Dozen recommenations, Dr. Greger recommends about 1/4 cup nuts or 1/8th cup=2 tablespoons nut butter. Unless you are eating a certain kind of walnut (good idea!), the omega 6 from the nuts is going to be way more than the omega 3 from the nuts.

        Here’s why that still OK: The Daily Dozen also recommends 1 tablespoon of flaxseed and several servings of greens/veggies, both of which have lots of omega 3 fats. In addition, Dr. Greger recommends people consider taking an algae-based DHA pill. Also, if you research the pages on NutritionFacts which cover nuts, you will see that as a package, nuts seems to be pretty healthy for us (especially when eaten in the small quantities of the Daily Dozen). There is no such body of evidence for omega 6 rich oils.

        With all that together, I’m guessing that it is perfectly find to enjoy your 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds!

    3. Trust in nature not our limited understanding of it. Nutritional science is always discovering new things and trying to pin point everything, then a few years go by and it changes. The evidence always leads to one thing though, eating plants is extremely beneficial to health, living off of them entirely is ideal. You can talk about ratios, but every study shows that those who regularly eat nuts and other plant foods naturally high in omega-6, has amazing health benefits for it from heart health to brain health to a healthy weight. If we were meant to be in a strict regime of ratios, wouldn’t all plant foods contain the “ideal” “ratio”? Yes, they would. Nature knows best, not man. I think Dr. Greger kind of addresses that here.
      What happens in the western world is we extract oils and manipulate foods, so extracted sunflower oil for example is all that concentrated omega-6 in unnaturally high amounts with none of the fiber or antioxidants that would normally come with it. And most eating a westernized diet live off of processed pre-made foods which most all contain these things. The problem is not eating naturally the majority of the time. All the evidence is clear but unfortunately you have the internet exploding with ratios and this stuff and over complicating things and demonizing plant foods, a lot of that is agenda-ridden to try to get more people back on animal foods (you’ll even see a plethora of articles online now calling LARD a healthy fat!!) and then a lot of it is just ignorant bloggers who don’t mind telling people what to do without actually having a real understanding of things.

        1. He also recommends eating whole foods like nuts and seeds but staying away from refined processed foods which are the real culprits of exceedingly high levels of omega-6 due to their almost always added oils like sunflower/safflower, soy, corn, cottonseed, etc. I never saw a video of him or read anything of him talking about staying away from whole plant foods with omega-6, on the contrary. I know he recommends flax as a daily thing which is something I do, that and/or chia seeds, sometimes hemp. I recently learned the ahiflower is another great plant source of omega 3’s but you can’t get it in whole form from what I’ve seen anyway and can only get the extracted oil and I only found one without a bunch of harmful fillers as well as unsustainable (palm oil and palm oil derivatives).

          Adding flax can really boost your levels of omega-3, if you’re worried about it you could just take extra that day.

          Anyways that’s just my take based on my observations and research.

          You might be interested in this article by Michael Pollan who wrote the book “In Defense of Food.” I don’t agree with everything he says, like referring to humans as omnivores for example, but a lot of it is extremely insightful and brilliant imo: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/28/magazine/28nutritionism.t.html?_r=0

          Here Dr. Greger talks about some of the benefits of pumpkin seeds: He also recommends eating whole foods like nuts but staying away from refined processed foods which are the real culprits of exceedingly high levels of omega-6 due to their almost always added oils like sunflower/safflower, soy, corn, cottonseed, etc. I never saw a video of him or read anything of him talking about staying away from whole plant foods with omega-6, on the contrary. I know he recommends flax as a daily thing which is something I do, that and/or chia seeds, sometimes hemp. I recently learned the ahiflower is another great plant source of omega 3’s but you can’t get it in whole form from what I’ve seen anyway and can only get the extracted oil and I only found one without a bunch of harmful fillers as well as unsustainable (palm oil and palm oil derivatives).

          Adding flax can really boost your levels of omega-3, if you’re worried about it you could just take extra that day.

          Anyways that’s just my take based on my observations and research.

          You might be interested in this article by Michael Pollan who wrote the book “In Defense of Food.” I don’t agree with everything he says, like referring to humans as omnivores for example, but a lot of it is extremely insightful and brilliant imo: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/28/magazine/28nutritionism.t.html?_r=0

          Here Dr. Greger talks about some of the health benefits of pumpkin seeds: http://nutritionfacts.org/video/the-best-way-to-boost-serotonin/

        2. He also recommends eating whole foods like nuts and seeds but staying away from refined processed foods which are the real culprits of exceedingly high levels of omega-6 due to their almost always added oils like sunflower/safflower, soy, corn, cottonseed, etc. I never saw a video of him or read anything of him talking about staying away from whole plant foods with omega-6, on the contrary, he recommends a lot of these foods. For high omega 3’s I know he recommends flax as a daily thing which is something I do, that and/or chia seeds, sometimes hemp. I recently learned that ahiflower is another great plant source of omega 3’s but you can’t get it in whole form from what I’ve seen anyway and can only get the extracted oil and I only found one without a bunch of harmful fillers as well as unsustainable (palm oil and palm oil derivatives), it’s the brand ahiflower.com sells.
          Adding flax can really boost your levels of omega-3, if you’re worried about it you could just take extra that day. And greens generally have a lot, especially romaine lettuce, there’s an herb that has a lot too I forget the name of.

          Anyways that’s just my take based on my observations and research.

          You might be interested in this article by Michael Pollan who wrote the book “In Defense of Food.” I don’t agree with everything he says, like referring to humans as omnivores for example, but a lot of it is extremely insightful and brilliant imo: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/28/magazine/28nutritionism.t.html?_r=0

  14. Hello Everyone,

    First of all apologize me in advance for the little bit silly questions and also for that I think I know the answers in 90% but still, I would like to ask for your opinions in the following issue: for my optimal Omega 3 – Omega 6 ratio during a day I always eat 20gr of walnuts/pecans/almonds/peanuts for breakfast. Then for lunch I am having 30gr of flaxseeds/chia seeds and finally for diner 10gr of flaxseeds/chia seeds also.

    So my questions are the following:
    1. Does it necessary to have the good O3:O6 ratio during every meal we have or do we have to look the whole day for that? I mean for breakfast my O6 intake is much more than the O3 but after that with my lunch and diner (flaxseeds/chia seeds) I end up with a good O3:O6 ratio. Also I don’t know maybe it is better to start the day with the “good ones” so I mean with the O3s than for lunch the O6 intake and finally end the day with a slightly amount of O3 again. Or it does not matter at all?
    2. What if our O3:O6 ratio is actually better than 1:1 (in the direction of O3 of course)?

    I am sorry again for the little dumby questions but I am curious about your opinions.

    So thank You very much for your kind replies and helps in advance. Also I wish You a beautiful day : )

    Best regards,
    Zsolt

  15. Optimal Omega 6:3 ratio is 2:1 or 1:1, no more than 4:1. That’s for the whole day. But don’t overthink it. Just eat legumes, whole grains, squash, rice, corn, potatoes etc and add some green leafy veggies and some fruit, and 1-2T ground flax or chia seeds if you like. You’ll always be in the correct range. The key is no oil or animal products. (The ratio is always expressed as Omega 6:3 BTW)

    1. Check out this blog from Jeff Novick for more info on Omega 6:3 ratios for nuts. ”

      Most nuts have little if any omega 3s so
      they have very poor ratios of omega 6 to omega 3s.

      Black Walnuts are 16:1

      English Walnuts 4:1

      Pecans are 20:1

      Pistachio is 37:1

      Pine Nuts are 300:1

      Macadamia is 6:1

      Hazelnut is 88:1

      Cashew is 117:1

      Brazil Nut is 1000:1

      Almonds 1800:1

      Pumpkin Seeds 117:1

      Sunflower Seeds 300:1

      CA Avocados 15:1

      FL Avocados 16.5:1

      Flaxseed 3.9:1 ***

      Chia Seed 3:1 ***

      (***these is a reverse ratio as the omega 3 is higher than the omega 6)

      In regard to Saturated fat

      Black Walnuts are 5%

      English Walnuts are 8%

      Pecans are 8%

      Pistachio is 8.5%

      Pine Nuts are 6.6%

      Macadamia is 15%

      Hazelnut is 6.5%

      Cashew is 12.5%

      Brazil Nut is 21%

      Almonds are 6%

      Pumpkin Seeds 14%

      Sunflower Seeds 6.5%

      Flaxseed 6%

      Chia Seed 6%

      CA Avocados 11.5%

      FL Avocados 15%

      As you can see, most are not bad, but some are fairly high in saturated fat and
      some are really high in omega 6s. Some of these, like cashews may not be great
      choices. They are over 12% saturated fat and have a ratio of 117:1 Pumpkin
      seeds and brazil nuts are also not the best choices as they are also
      “higher” in saturated fat and have a “higher” ratio.

      An optimal diet does not require the
      inclusion of any one food (berries, soy, broccoli, etc), including nuts. And,
      some of what you hear about nuts, is somewhat distorted.

      My nutritional recommendations are the same for heart disease as they are in
      general, including my recommendations for nuts/seeds. After all, a truly
      healthy diet should not only be helpful for heart disease, it should also be
      helpful for obesity, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, hypertension, arthritis,
      cancer, etc, etc.

      Nuts are nutritious and can be a good source of some vitamins and minerals, but
      we always have to look at a food as a total package and not just any one aspect
      of it.

      Nuts, are around 70% fat. And, while most of the fat in nuts is not saturated
      fat, the very high fat content increases the calorie density of the nuts. Nuts,
      at 2800 calories per pound, are one of the most calorie dense foods there are
      on the planet. Adding foods that are high in calorie density increases the
      overall calorie density of the diet. And, as you increase the calorie density
      of someone’s diet, you increase the likelihood they will overeat. As 66% of
      Americans are overweight, and 33% of them are obese, weight (And calorie
      density) is an important issue to be considered when promoting health and
      nutrition information.

      Speaking of fat, most of the fat in most nuts is mono-unsaturated fat, which is
      not the essential fat, nor is it a “good” fat. I consider it more
      neutral at best. Plus, there is no requirement for us to consume mono
      unsaturated fat. We make plenty of it very easily.

      Most nuts, outside the English walnut are a poor source of essential fats, the
      fat that is most beneficial for heart disease. And, it only takes about 1 oz of
      English walnuts, to provide the amount of essential fats we need. More is not
      always better. In addition, these essential fats are also abundant in green
      leafy vegetables also.

      Walnuts are also 8.5% saturated fat, which is even above the AHA
      recommendation, so too many walnuts have the potential of interfering with
      keeping ones total saturated fat below 7%.

      Too many nuts can increase the total fat content of the diet. High fat diets
      can interfere with blood flow, increase clotting factors, and decrease
      performance.

      Having said all that, if someone was to follow an optimal health supporting
      diet, and they wanted to include some nuts/seeds, then there is probably no
      problem with the inclusion of 1 or 2 oz of nuts/seeds (without oil and/or
      salt). However, if weight is a problem, I would limit that amount to 1 oz or
      less. And, if they are included, to consume them as part of a meal with other
      foods that are very low in calorie density. ”

      In Health

      Jeff Novick, MS, RD

    2. Thank You very much for your answer : )
      I eat nuts because with legumes unfortunately we are not so “good friends” – but yes as for I know that almost all of the nuts have a huge dose of Omega 6 fatty acids every day I consume around 40gr of flaxseeds or chia seeds aswell.
      Thank You again and I wish You a nice weekend : )

      1. Flatulence should disappear within a week of consuming legumes daily, if thats your problem with them. But i cant see how you would digest chia seeds any better, since studies show they are not very digestable (i get lose stools from them, so i stay away).

  16. I have analyzed my usual daily nutrition on nutritiondata.com and suprisingly i see that my ratio is not too bad, with a 1:5 ratio between omega 3 to omega 6.

    Should i try to improve it or is this a good setpoint?

  17. Yup, the omega 3/6 mystery remains:)

    It is the only real flaw in the vegan diet (except B12) or at least we haven’t found an answer for that by now.

    30 % of the brain consists of long chain DHA (omega 3). We need a study on this soon or a doctor’s real life experience with patients, but most of the experts stay silent over this as there is no plant based solution, especiallly with the new lectin and phytic acid research coming to town in the course of 2017 by Dr. Gundry, that excludes flax seed.

    The study mentioned above does not say what the vegans ate or what they supplemented, many vegans supplement krill oil. Who knows?

    My stomach doesn’t cope too well with flax. Would love to supplement with algae, but I’m afraid the omega 3 and 6 from algae powder is prone to oxidation and gets rancid before I get to eat it, as it does not come light and air sealed in capsules like Krill Oil. Any info on that?

    Many people come from junk food or took oxidized plant oils for decades. They surely have a very low omega 3 reservoir. Maybe for those people it would indeed be better to start a vegan diet with grass fed beef or wild caught sea fish, regardless of the toxins that come along with it. Sorry, I am a vegan, but we must be fair and ask such questions, until we can be sure about this issue. Personally, I would feel a lot better, if had a safe source of plant based omega 3 that does not wreck havoc in my stomach like flax seed, which is know backed by Dr. Gundry’s research on lectins.

    1. Hi Joe, Thanks for your comment about omega three and flax seed. I would suggest cooking, sprouting and fermenting method to get rid of lectin in foods that do have omega three such as flax seed and soy beans. Also walnut and chia seed are good sources and one can soak these seeds to reduce the lectin in it before consuming it.

      1. Hi Spring03, thanks for reply!

        Do you have any science backed information about the O3 amount of sprouted flax? Does one have to eat the entire seed after sprouting or just the green part?

  18. Does Dr. Greger recommend shelled or unshelled hemp seed. Are unshelled hemp seeds from the store stable and not prone to oxidation?

  19. There is a kind of clash: the Framingham study recommends an omega-3 index of no less than 4.4%, while the acceptable range is 8-12%. I wonder as to the basis for the 8-12% range. If I remember correctly, it is based on CVD risk correlated with a lower or hight omega-3 index, which does not indicate causation and is not as accurate as an interventional study such as the Framingham study. According to it, I am almost there, with an index of 4.11%; according to the acceptable range, I am low.

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