Omega-6s and omega-3s are both “essential” fatty acids. This means they’re nutrients that your body can’t make, and so you must get them from your diet (or in a supplement of some sort).
There are three major omega-3s: alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). And there are two major omega-6s: linoleic acid (LA) and arachidonic acid (AA). The majority of our omega-6 intake comes from linoleic acid via vegetable oils, such as soybean, safflower, and corn oil. Nuts, seeds, and some vegetables also contain LA. There are small amounts of AA in meat, poultry, and eggs.
What are Omega-3s, Omega-6s, and Why Is Their Ratio Important?
Both fats help form the structure of cell membranes, as well as contribute to a wide range of your body’s functions. But also omega-3s and omega-6s compete with one another for the resources to make the signaling molecules that play a role in our core systems—cardiovascular, pulmonary, immune, and endocrine.
During human evolution our ratio of omega-6/omega-3 was 1:1, today experts advise that the perfect balance is 3:1. Unfortunately, our modern western diets are high in omega-6s and very low in omega-3s, leading to an unhealthy omega-6/omega-3 ratio of 20:1.
Why An Imbalanced Omega-6 to Omega-3 Ratio is Problematic
An imbalanced ratio—where omega-6s are significantly higher than omega-3s —is believed to encourage inflammation and may spur heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. That’s because omega-6s are thought to be more inflammatory than omega-3s.
But because research consistently suggests that eating an omega-3-rich diet is associated with a lower risk of developing some chronic conditions like heart disease and diabetes—and most of us eat low amounts of omega-3s—experts say we should aim to increase our omega-3 levels.
Top Sources of Omega-3s
EPA and DHA omega-3 fats are found in oily fish, such as salmon, tuna, mackerel, and sardines. There are some concerns about consuming fish in significant quantities. See our FAQ “How Does Hemp Seed Oil Compare to Fish Oil?” to learn more.
Although the scientific literature on the benefits of EPA and DHA seem to be more robust than the literature on the benefits of ALA, the majority of us get our omega-3s in the form of ALA.
Hemp Protein and Oil are One of the Few Plant-based Foods That Naturally Contain Omega-3s.
They contain alpha linolenic acid, or ALA. Another boon for hemp seeds is their ratio of omega-6s to omega-3s is 3:1, which is ideal for a healthy diet.
Other sources of ALA that you can include in your diet are walnuts, flaxseeds, chia and their oils, as well as canola oil.
As hemp seed-based ingredients become more readily available and accepted, food product makers will naturally gravitate to the health and societal benefits of using minimally processed, Non-GMO hemp seed-based ingredients like those from Victory Hemp Foods (which are also available as Certified Organic).
Using new, innovative protein and oil ingredients from Victory Hemp Foods supports sustainable agriculture while providing consumers with a healthy plant-based alternative to existing proteins and oils. Victory Hemp Food's V-ONETM Hemp Heart Oil and V70TM Hemp Heart Protein help food formulators meet product brand and health goals while shortening and simplifying ingredient decks.
Learn About Hemp Protein Nutrition, And Why You Should Be Using Hemp Protein As An Ingredient