The very high incidence of heart attacks, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, Crohn disease, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease may be caused the Western diet that is loaded with omega-6 fatty acids and low in omega-3s.

Research that showed that polyunsaturated fats in vegetables may help to prevent heart attacks encouraged food manufacturers to use vegetable oils in almost all prepared foods, loading our diet with added vegetable oils from corn, sunflower seeds, safflower seeds, cottonseed, and soybeans that are rich sources of omega-6 fatty acids. Grinding whole grains produces a flour that turns rancid quickly, so food manufacturers make flour after removing the germ which is the main source of omega-3 fatty acids. This combination of adding omega-6 vegetable oils to prepared foods and removing omega-3s before grinding whole grains has changed the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 oils in out diet to approximately 20-30 to 1 from the traditional, more healthful range of 1-2:1.

This high intake of omega-6 fatty acids causes clotting, swelling called inflammation and constriction of arteries that can cause heart attacks and other diseases. Omega-3 fatty acids can reverse these changes and help prevent heart attacks and other diseases. Many scientists feel that you should reduce your intake of omega-6 fatty acids found in most prepared foods, and eat lots of omega-3 fatty acids found in deep-water fish, green leafy vegetables, flaxseed, whole grains, beans, nuts and other seeds.

AP Simopoulos.Essential fatty acids in health and chronic disease.American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1999, Vol 70, Iss 3, Suppl. S, pp 560S-569S.

Checked 5/3/07

Get our newsletter