But what about n-6 fatty acids? The abstract tells us that n-6 PUFAs stimulate angiogenesis. Does that make n-6 one of the bad guys? That’s what I thought, at first. But no, we need both these fatty acids in order to be healthy, so eliminating n-6s from our diet would be a very VERY bad move.
What we lack is BALANCE between the two omegas. Read this: In terms of the consequences for human health, it has been shown that Japanese who migrated to the United States and acquired the local dietary habits leading to an increase in the dietary n-6/n-3 PUFA ratio of 16:1 resulted in health problems in the migrants similar to those that already existed in the local population. Sixteen to one! That’s astounding. Even more astounding: the ideal balance should be 1:1, at the most 4:1. But the average North American diet, and probably European by now, ranges from 11:1 to 30:1. Yikes!
According to Andrew Weil, M.D., This dietary imbalance may explain the rise of such diseases as asthma, coronary heart disease, many forms of cancer, autoimmunity and neurodegenerative diseases, all of which are believed to stem from inflammation in the body. The imbalance between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids may also contribute to obesity, depression, dyslexia, hyperactivity and even a tendency toward violence.(see: http://tinyurl.com/4s32fc; see also: http://tinyurl.com/565h8n).
Now, what happens when we ingest n-3s and n-6s? They get converted by so-called PUFA bioconversion enzymes. Otherwise, these fatty acids would not be of any use to us at all. The researchers state that their findings suggest that n-6 and n-3 PUFAs compete for enzymes involved in PUFA biotransformation. It is widely believed that PUFA bioconversion enzymes have a greater affinity for n-3 PUFAs so that their biotransformation is favored when the dietary n-3 PUFA intake is high. This simply means that the two omegas compete for the attention of these bioconversion enzymes, and n-3s happen to be the winners.
At any rate, our bodies are not able to produce these fatty acids from scratch, and in fact that is why they are called "essential" (essential for health, but cannot be made inside the body), so we need to get them from our food.
Dietary sources of n-3s: mainly cold water fish such as salmon, herring, anchovies, but be careful about the potential presence of heavy metals, PCBs and dioxin (!); also, but to a lesser degree, flax, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, pecans, butternuts, nut oils, as well as the seeds of: chia sage, kiwi, lingonberry, black raspberry. For more info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Omega_3. By the way, today I learned that mercury does not get stored in fish oil (only in the tissue). How about that? I also learned that some manufacturers are able to purify fish oil via molecular distillation, which increases the cost, but who wants to be swallowing dioxin or pesticides, after all? I would rather pay more for a high quality product. So, do your research, watch what you buy, and don’t go for el cheapo.
Dietary sources of n-6s: poultry, eggs, cereals, whole-grain breads, baked goods, most plant-based cooking oils (sunflower, corn etc.), nuts, borage oil. See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Omega_6