The typical Western diet tends to present some challenges to our health and wellness. On one hand, it’s high in the food groups that should be kept in moderation, like red meat, processed foods, and high sugar foods. On the other hand, it’s low in the nutrients that we should get lots of, like fiber, water, certain vitamins and minerals, and essential fatty acids. Consequently, this diet style is associated with some negative outcomes if left unchecked, such as increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and certain types of cancer. 
Of all the nutrients that the Western diet tends to lack, omega-3 fatty acids seem to be among the hardest to get, despite their incredible benefits. This type of essential fatty acid is so important due to its impact on heart health, inflammation, skin health, and more. All the while, it can be incredibly challenging to get from our diet. Well, unless you know where to look for it…
While omega-3 fatty acids can be lacking in the Western diet, omega-6 fatty acids are usually found in abundance. While omega-6 fatty acids do have their benefits, they also have their drawbacks on human health as well. Interestingly enough, the most important factor to consider is the proportion of omega-6 fatty acids you eat in relation to omega-3 fatty acids.
In this blog, I want to help you better understand what exactly the essential fatty acids are, and how they impact our health. I also want to help you identify common sources of these nutrients in the foods you eat, as well as the ideal ratio of omega fatty acids, so you can optimize your diet to support a healthy lifestyle.
Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids, meaning that our body cannot produce these nutrients, and we must get them from our diet or supplements to maintain our stores. There are three main types of omega-3s – eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and alpha-linolenic (ALA).
They provide us with some incredible benefits, ranging from the health of our eyes, to our brains, to our hearts. Here are some of the most well-established benefits of omega-3s, according to research:
You can find EPA and DHA in cold water, fatty fish, such as mackerel, tuna, salmon, herring, and shellfish. You can also find these fatty acids in vegetarian sources, as well. Primarily seaweed, nori, spirulina, and chlorella. ALA is more commonly found in plant-based sources, such as chia seeds, flax seeds, hemp seeds, walnuts, edamame, and kidney beans.
Like omega-3 fatty acids, omega-6 fatty acids are essential for our health, and we need to consume them on a regular basis. However, unlike omega-3 fatty acids, omega-6s tend to have some less desirable health effects when eaten in excess.
Most significantly, researchers believe that they contribute to inflammation in the body. While inflammation can be good for us (it’s our body’s way of protecting us from illness and injury), too much inflammation can have some negative consequences. When inflammation persists, the cells and molecules that responded to the initial trigger can actually harm the body tissues they’re trying to protect. This is why we have to consider the amount of omega-6 fatty acids we eat, especially compared to omega-3 fatty acids (which have the opposite effect). 
Our diet is much more rich in omega-6 compared to omega-3. You can find omega-6s in a variety of vegetable oils, such as sunflower, safflower, soy, sesame, and corn oils, as well as in seeds and nuts.
While omega-6 fatty acids don’t seem to have the overwhelming benefits of omega-3s, together, they are essential for human health. In order to prevent the more negative outcomes associated with omega-6s, it’s important to maintain a healthy ratio of omega-3 to -6 intake.
Currently, the Western diet style averages a ratio of 16:1, omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids. In comparison, researchers suggest aiming for a ratio closer to 4:1 – i.e. for every 4 mg of omega-6 you consume, you should consume at least 1 mg of omega-3. This ratio would likely improve if the Western diet was richer in consumption of fatty fish, seaweed, algae, seeds, and nuts. However, it can be challenging to maintain consistent intake of these food groups. 
The good news is that supplementation is a great way to ensure that you’re getting enough omega-3 fatty acids on a daily basis. One of the more challenging forms of omega-3 to get is DHA, as many individuals may not regularly consume the fish or algae products that are rich in this nutrient.
This is why I choose to formulate Complete Collagen+ with omega-3 fatty acids, DHA fatty acids in particular! I want to make sure that you’re getting all the power of collagen, with the added benefit of a daily dose of omega-3 fatty acids. EverBella’s collagen contains 400 mg of vegan DHA, and was designed to ensure that the collagen is more readily available for absorption.
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