Abstract

Omega-6/Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acid Ratio: The Scientific Evidence


Author: Artemis P. Simopulos, Leslie G. Cleland
Source: Karger
Publication Date: 2003

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Abstract

Several sources of information suggest that human beings evolved on a diet with a ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 essential fatty acids of ~1 whereas in Western diets the ratio is 15/1-16.7/1, and in India ratios of urban areas range between 38/1 and 50/1 whereas in rural areas the ratios range from 5/1 to 6.1/1. Western diets are considered 'relatively deficient' in omega-3 fatty acids, because they contain excessive amounts of omega-6 fatty fatty acids compared with the diet on which human beings evolved and their genetic patterns were established. Excessive amounts of omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) and a very high omega 6-/omega-3 ratio, as is found in today's Western and Indian diets, promote the pathogenesis of many diseases, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, and inflammatory and autoimmune disease, whereas increased levels of omega-3 PUFA (a lower Omega-6/omega-3 ratio), exert suppressive effects. In the secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease, a ratio of omega-6/omega-3 of 4/1 was associated with a 70% decrease in total mortality.