I believe that too much of anything- good or otherwise- can be harmful on our health but we really need to take a look at the types of oils we're consuming if we want to reduce our risk for chronic disease, obesity and other inflammatory conditions.
I'm sure you've heard that Omega-6 and -3 fats are healthy fats. This is true when the ratio is around 3:1. At one point in time it was but with the advances in agriculture we have seen a surge of industrial seed oils in everything from condiments to bread to processed foods and snacks. Vegetable, corn and seed oils are high in omega-6 fats.
The current average American diet consists of an omega-6:3 ratio around 16:1!
Do you think it's a coincidence that we're also experiencing a surge in chronic disease and obesity rates in the United States? All of which are related to high levels of inflammation in the body.
Out of Balance Effects
Recent research indicates that omega-3 fats provide fat burning signals in the body, whereas omega-6 fats provide fat storing signals and also create inflammatory fat when omega-3's are low.¹ Emerging research speaks to the benefits that omega-3's have on conditions such as heart disease, Alzheimer's, crohn's disease, arthritis and cancer.²
To find out what kinds of oils you're consuming, CHECK FOOD LABELS. Most likely you will see some kind of vegetable oil: soybean oil and corn oil. Keep in mind that moderate amounts are not harmful; it's the large quantities to watch out for.
Easy Ways to Balance the Ratio
1. First, start by adding more omega-3 fats to your diet.
- Nuts, seeds, seafood and eggs are all good choices. There are now products fortified with DHA- a type of omega-3.
2. Vegetable sources of omega-3's: spinach, cauliflower, winter squash, sprouts.
3. If you eat meat and dairy, switch from grain-fed to grass-fed.
4. Check food labels often to find out what kinds of fats are listed in the ingredient list. Cut back wherever possible.
Want more? Check out this post on Healthy Cooking with Fats and Oils.