Omega-6 / omega-3 ratio 7. August 2008 William Davis (11) Most of us already know that the intake of omega-6 fatty acids in the American diet has gone overboard, much at the expense of the omega-3 fraction. This occurred as a result of the misguided advice of the 1970s and 1980s to eat polyunsaturated oils like corn, sunflower, and safflower, because of their presumed cholesterol-reducing properties compared to saturated fats. However, more recent examinations of this advice have suggested that the omega-6 fraction of oils present in polyunsaturated oils may amplify arachidonic acid and other inflammatory patterns despite the reduction in cholesterol (total and LDL). Dr. Artemis Simopoulos of the Center for Genetics, Nutrition and Health in Washington, D.C. has written extensively on the role of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids in diet. In a review entitled The Importance of the Omega-6/Omega-3 Fatty Acid Ratio in Cadiovacular Disease and Other Chronic Disease , Dr. Simopoulos collects the following comparison of omega-6 to omega-3 ratios from various populations: Paleolithic humans 0.79Greece (prior to 1960) 1.00-2.00Current Japan 4.00Current India, rural 5-6.1Current United Kindom and northern Europe 15.00Current United States 16.74Current India, urban 38-50(The numbers refer to the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 intake.)If we believe the observations of Dr. Loren Cordain and others, while paleolithic man died of trauma and infectious diseases, they did not die of heart disease. Paleolithic human intake of omega-3 exceeded that of omega-6. Likewise, the traditionally low cardiac event regions of the world like Japan and Greece have less omega-3 intake than Paleolithic man, but still many times more than the U.S. and U.K. Worst of all with an enormous preponderance of omega-6 over omega-3 are urban Indians, who experience among the highest rates of heart disease in the world. Just for perspective, let's assume you eat an 1800 calorie per day diet, of which 30% of calories come from fat. This would amount to 540 calories per day from fat. With 9 calories per gram of fat, this means that there are 60 grams, or 60,000 mg, of fat in your diet per day. Paleolithic man has been found to have existed on a diet consisting of 21% of calories from fats. Again assuming an 1800 calorie per day diet, that comes to 42 grams of fat per day (42,000 mg). If we were to try to recreate the Paleolithic fat composition of diet, we would ingest 21,000 mg of omega-3 fatty acids (EPA, DHA, linolenic acid) per day. Even recreating a Japanese experience with a 4:1 ratio, it would mean 8400 mg of omega-3 per day. (Curiously, this does not agree with all estimates of Japanese intake of omega-3s.)No matter how you look at it, cultures with lower rates of cardiovascular disease take in greater--much greater--quantities of omega-3 fatty acids. So don't complain about your six fish oil capsules (usually containing 6000 mg of total oil, 1800 mg omega-3s)!