Questions + answers are good ways to learn. Peruse the list below, and if you don’t find what you want, click Submit a Question, and we’ll do our best to get an answer to you.
Q. Is there some research suggesting synergy between plant omega-3s and fish omega-3s?
A. Synergy means that the two types give a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects. The 18-carbon plant and 20- and 22-carbon fish omega-3s add together when maintaining tissue HUFA balance, and it will take careful measurements not yet available to recognize if synergy occurs. You can estimate likely outcomes for different dietary intakes of the two types by using a simple calculator based on an empirical equation that fits values for 34 studies of 4,000 people in 92 groups from 11 different countries.
Q. You list coconut oil as a potential cooking oil. Shouldn’t we limit eating saturated fats?
A. The hypothesis that cardiovascular death comes from dietary saturated fats and cholesterol was proposed in 1961. However, scientists found in 1964 that n-3 and n-6 essential fatty acids form potent bioactive eicosanoids that act on receptors in nearly all tissues of the body and mediate atherosclerosis and thrombosis. Now, evidence from clinical trials has falsified the “cholesterol hypothesis“, altering views about whether or not saturated fats and cholesterol cause harm.
Q. You mention not necessarily adding oil to salads, but research suggests that carotene phytochemicals in salad greens, tomatoes, carrots have higher absorption rates when they are in the presence of a smart fat such as avocados, nuts and extra virgin olive oil?
A. Certainly, a meal should have some fat in it to aid absorption of phytochemicals. The idea of a “smart fat” has many possible points of evaluation. A quick look at Omega 3-6 Balance Scores for food oils shows Balance Scores as one view of “smart”. Also, high-oleate oils are “smart” in having low-linokeate levels.
Q. I take one 1,000mg. fish oil (300mg. omega-3) gel capsule every day. Is that too little? How much should I take?
A. Our calculator estimates that your 300mg. added to typical American daily food would shift your HUFA Balance from 80%to 73% n-6 in HUFA. If your goal is 50% n-6 in HUFA, then you can cut your intake of 18:2n-6 from 17,000mg. per day and eat more omega-3 foods to get the HUFA Balance that you want.
Q. What is a good mid-day snack that I can pick up at a convenience store?
A. Try to find a can/pack of sardines, tuna, or salmon. An alternate would be a low-fat high-protein (Greek) yogurt.
Q. What proof is there that omega-6 eicosanoid actions are harmful?
A. The most widely used medications in the world are aspirin-like non-steroidal antiinflammatory drugs
(NSAIDs). They block the COX enzymes converting essential fatty acids into eicosanoids and they cut
omega-6 thromboxane production, platelet aggregation, and heart attacks (acute myocardial infarction).
Q. What’s the easiest way to shift my body’s balance of %n-6 in HUFA from 80% to 50%?
A. Probably a good balance will come only AFTER you NIX the 6 by replacing household cooking and salad oils with coconut, olive or canola oil (and consider mixing in some cold-pressed flaxseed oil for more omega-3). The American Heart Association encourages eating seafood at least twice a week and maybe adding fish oil supplements. Remember when you “NIX the 6” it lets “EAT the 3” be even more effective.
Q. Would I really live longer if I changed my food choices?
A. Everyone dies some day, but chronic disease and pain are conditions worsened by excessive omega-6 eicosanoid events – – and they are decreased by eating omega-3 fats and by medical treatment with drugs.
Q. Do omega-6 eicosanoids cause heart attacks?
A. Heart attacks involve thrombosis and arrhythmia, often following chronic vascular inflammation. All three processes have excessive omega-6 eicosanoid actions, especially omega-6 thromboxane causing thrombosis.
Q. Do omega-6 eicosanoids really affect EVERYTHING that I do?
A. Sometimes, it seems that way! Our body tissues make them during very many self-regulated processes. The balance between benefit and harm is an important topic.
Q. Why can’t I just eat what I like and take supplements for balance?
A. Supplements are good to make up for shortages. It seems wasteful to eat lots of omega-3 supplements to balance an already too-high omega-6 supply. Lowering the omega-6 intake helps the omega-3 supplements create a better balance. Download an Omega Foods App or look on-line to find foods to NIX the 6 while you EAT the 3.
Q. Do I have to eat omega-3 fats every day?
A. Think of how much omega-6 you eat every day (maybe 13,000 mg), and help your body balance it with omega-3.
Q. I love fish, especially wild-caught fish. But are there really enough fish on this earth for everyone to have 2-3 servings a week? That doesn’t sound sustainable.
A. When you NIX the 6, you will not need to eat very large amounts of omega-3 to keep a balance. Andy Sharpless advises “Eat wild seafood; not too many of the big fish; mostly local” in his excellent book, The Perfect Protein.
Q. One thing I’m concerned about with fish is all the mercury and other pollutants. Isn’t it a bad idea to eat too much fish?
A. I cannot imagine anyone eating “too much fish”. Please read research reports by Nick Ralston about how selenium neutralizes mercury toxicity and remember that ocean fish have MORE selenium than mercury.
Q. I don’t understand the new nutrition information on packaging. What should we be avoiding, and what should we try to eat more?
A. For personal wellness, try to eat more omega-3, eat less omega-6, and eat fewer calories per meal.
Q. Which oil is better for salads, safflower oil or soy oil?
A. Why not avoid oils (& calories) on salads and use nothing or lemon juice or vinegar or yogurt or sour cream?
Q. I want to get more fish in my diet. Should I be concerned about all the salt in canned salmon and sardines? Should I avoid canned fish?
A. Canned fish offers good value per dollar and usually has little added salt. While most anchovies are salted, marinated anchovies (boquerones) are really great. On such questions + answers, the benefit is great than the risk.
Q. Which is better, wild salmon in a can or farmed salmon from the supermarket?
A. They both have very positive Omega 3-6 Balance Scores. I would decide based on price per pound and palatability.
Q. How much fish oil supplement should a person take every day – – 3,000 mg?
A. How much daily omega-6 does he/she eat to be balanced? Plan to NIX the 6 to let “EAT the 3” give more benefit.
Q. What should one look for, and avoid, in a fish oil supplement?
A. Look for a low price per gram of omega-3 and evidence of purity without contaminants.
Q. On days that I eat fish, do I need to take the fish oil supplement? Or maybe take less? (and if so, how much?)
A. Why not? You likely still need to balance millions of milligrams of omega-6 fats stored in the fat around your waist and thighs which have accumulated over the past twenty years.
Q. Cheese seems to have a fairly good omega 3 to omega 6 ratio. Yet it’s considered a food to avoid because of its high fat content. What do you think about cheese?
A. I love a variety of cheeses. They have good Omerga 3-6 Balance Scores near 0, and are good for snacks when a little fat carries you until the next meal.
Q. Let’s say I ate some cookies at the office and they were made with palm oil, which is super high in O6 over O3s. Should I try to counterbalance that by eating some fish for lunch? Or taking an extra fish oil supplement?
A. Yes. Lots of questions + answers. ALWAYS try to counterbalance omega-6 with omega-3. The Omega 3-6 Balance Score for palm oil (-10) is like canola (-12) or olive (-9). Coconut oil is better balanced (-2), and flaxseed oil (+44) really counterbalances omega-6.
Q. Your writings are interesting, but I’m not sure I understand everything. Where can I get more information about the chemistry and cellular biology you talk about, such as how hydrocarbon chains interact with cells?
A. Curiosity is a fine trait to nurture. It leads to lots of questions + answers. My wife and kids say, “Google it!”
updated May, 2016