Omega-6 to Omega-3 Ratio
on the Paleo diet

The Paleo diet has a more
optimal omega-6 to omega-3 ratio.

Both the omega-6 fat linoleic acid and the omega-3 fat alpha-linolenic acid are PUFAs (polyunsaturated fatty acids) recognized as essential for human health, but an imbalance between the two could compromise their functions. (2-4) Humans evolve eating about equal amounts of omega-6 and omega-3 fats, with a ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 close to 1:1. However, the increased consumption of omega-6-rich vegetable oils in the standard American diet has skewed this ratio up to between 15:1 and 20:1. (3)

Omega-6 fats consumed in excessive amounts, as is the case with most processed foods made with seed oils, has a pro-inflammatory effect and may be involved in the development of numerous chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular diseases, some cancers, arthritis and other inflammatory and autoimmune conditions. (3)

Find the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio of vegetable oils and seed oils
(corn oil, cottonseed oil, grapeseed oil, peanut oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, soybean oil) and nuts & nut butters by clicking the respective links.

...or download the printer-friendly PDF version of the
"Omega-6 to Omega-3 Ratio" of oils and nuts table

*****

It is impossible to consume enough fish to improve your omega-6 to omega-3 ratio and supplementing with large amounts of fish oils to compensate for a high omega-6 fat intake is not advisable because of their high oxidative potential. Avoiding vegetable oils, which are mainly found in processed food anyway, and focusing on eating real food can make a big difference for your health.

You can improve your omega-6 to omega-3 ratio by:

  • choosing pastured and free-range meat and eggs, and
  • limiting your nut and nut butter intake.
  •  The Paleo diet promotes the consumption of fats that are more stable and less susceptible to oxidation, such as monounsaturated (MUFAs) and saturated fats (SFAs) found in animal products, coconut oil, ghee, olive oil and macadamia nut oil.

    Learn more with the Paleo dietitian:
    Healthy natural fats with an optimal omega-6 to omega-3 ratio
    What to eat on the Paleo diet
    Main foods to avoid to optimize your health
    Table of content: find answers to all of your questions


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    References:(1) Cordain L, et al. Origins and Evolution of the Western Diet: Health Implications for the 21st Century. Am J Clin Nutr. 2005; 81:341-54.(2) Enig ME. Know Your Fats: The Complete Primer for Understanding the Nutrition of Fats, Oils and Cholesterol. 2000.(3) Simopoulos AP. The Importance of the Ratio of Omega-6/Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids. Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy. 2002; 56(8): 365-79.(4) Carrera-Bastos P, et al. The Western Diet and Lifestyle and Diseases of Civilization. Research Reports in Clinical Cardiology. 2011; 2: 15-35.


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