How to Optimize Your Omega-3 to Omega-6 Ratio on a Plant-Based Diet
While our body can synthesize most of the fatty acids we need, it cannot make omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids are “essential,” meaning they must be consumed through the foods we eat. Current research suggests that the standard American diet (SAD) contains an abundance of omega-6 fatty acids, with relatively low amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. Whereas studies show that a 4:1 or even a 1:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids is optimal for health, most Americans are consuming a ratio of at least 15:1!,  This imbalance is thought to lead to excessive inflammation in the body, which has been linked to many diseases: rheumatoid arthritis (RA), heart disease, inflammatory bowel disease, asthma, depression, cancer, and more.
So, where are all the omega-6 fatty acids coming from?
A large portion of the standard American diet consists of processed and fast foods. These foods often contain corn, soy, safflower, or sunflower oils, all of which are high in omega-6 fatty acids.
The next time you are at the supermarket, look at the ingredient label on a packaged food item and you will likely find one or more of these oils.
Ingredients high in omega-6 fatty acids:
- Safflower oil
- Sunflower oil
- Corn oil
- Soybean oil
Simply by reducing the amount of processed and fast foods you eat, you will naturally reduce the omega-6 fatty acid levels in your body, which will go some way toward restoring a more natural balance between omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. But what if you want to go the extra yard?
How can we get more omega-3 fatty acids?
Chia seeds and flax seeds will give you the biggest bang for your buck in terms of omega-3s. One serving (three tablespoons) of these seeds has about 5,790 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids.
Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids:
- Chia seeds
- Flax seeds
- Brussels sprouts
You probably noticed that walnuts contain high amounts of both omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. Although the ratio in walnuts is far closer to what research would recommend, if you’re aiming for foods that are even richer in omega-3 fatty acids, it’s best to start with chia or flax seeds. You can eat these with your morning oatmeal. Or, if you want even more, try making a green smoothie with lots of spinach, ground flax or chia seeds, and a little bit of fruit.
Getting your daily dose of omega-3s while decreasing your omega-6 intake will go a long way in reducing inflammation, preventing disease, and improving your overall health. 
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