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Omega 6 and 3 in nuts, oils, meat and fish. Tools to get it right.


One of the ways our diets have changed dramatically from the diets of our ancestors and even the very recent past is the ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids in the food we eat. A huge amount has been written about this subject, dozens of studies have been published. I’m not going into detail, the object here is to provide tools to help you get this balance right. At the end of the page – I’ve posted some links to other interesting blog posts and articles.

(For a really well explained primer on the fats see this article from Anastasia Fat Glorious Fat: Part 1 and Part II)

What are Omega 6 and omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids?

A fatty acid molecule has a chain of carbon atoms linked together with hydrogen atoms attached on one side. In a saturated fatty acid each carbon has a single bond with the neighbouring carbon atom and a single bonds to two hydrogen atoms (Carbon atoms always make 4 bonds). In an unsaturated fatty acid chain one or more carbon atoms is linked to its neighbour with a double bond and only one side hydrogen atom attached. Mono-unsaturated fats have one carbon to carbon double bond, and poly-unsaturated fats, two or more. Here is a triglyceride (the usual form that fats are found – 3 fatty acid chains linked to a glycerol molecule or backbone at one end) that has two saturated and one mono-unsaturated fatty acid chain.

This is Linoleic acid – also known as Omega 6. The reason it is called omega 6 is because the first double bond is at the 6th carbon atom from the Omega end as shown:

Here is a 3D ball representation:

An omega 3 fatty acid therefore has the first double bond at the 3rd carbon. Here is alpha linolenic acid, showing it is 18 carbons long with 3 double bonds:

Even though these are shown as straight lines in the diagram – in reality the double bonds make the fatty acid bend and swivel. This is what makes the unsaturated fat liquid as opposed to solid at room temperature.

Omega 6 and Omega 3 fatty acids are 2 different classes of polyunsaturated fats. They are both important, because they are made into powerful regulatory hormones. Omega 6 fats are primarily converted into a range of pro- inflammatory hormones and omega 3 into anti-inflammatory hormones. Perhaps it would help to think of the analogy of hot and cold taps. Hot being omega 6 and cold being omega 3. We need a balance of hot and cold to get the right temperature. Due to the abundance of omega 6 in our diets from chemically extracted vegetable oils, (see graph below and the recent increase in salad oil, shortening and margarine) and a lack of food sources of omega 3 like cold water fish and grass fed / wild meat we have an imbalance. An ideal ratio is 4:1 down to 1:1 of omega 6 to omega 3. This is a long way from the standard American diet which gives 20:1. Imagine the hot tap (inflammation) on full and the cold tap (anti-inflammation) on a dribble. Inflammation is rampant.

This graph shows the dramatic increase in oils high in omega 6 since 1950 – margarine, salad oil and shortening. (link: http://www.krispin.com/omega3.html)

Per capita fat supply USA 1909 – 1999 (Krispin Sullivan)

There are potentially 2 different ways to rectify this. One is to add a high dose of omega 3 to balance the amount of omega 6 we eat. The other is to minimise omega 6 and increase the omega 3 just enough to give an ideal balance. Which is the best solution?

Polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) are far more unstable than mono-unsaturated and saturated fats because of all the carbon to carbon double bonds. These double bonds are easily oxidised, so PUFAs are more susceptible to oxidation – called lipid peroxidation http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lipid_peroxidation.  This oxidised fat can cause cellular and DNA damage. The more PUFA in a cell membrane the higher the risk of oxidation, and consequent damage. More in this case is not better. Adding large amounts of Omega 3 to balance omega 6 is not the best solution.

So the best way to improve the balance on omega 6 to omega 3 is to reduce omega 6 as much as possible. Of course some omega 6 is essential as it is needed as a building block for eicosanoid hormones. In a normal diet it is virtually impossible to go low enough to cause omega 6 deficiency. When we bring the total amount of omega 6 in our diets down, we can then easily add fish (like salmon and sardines) or fish oil to get the ideal ratio between omega 3 and 6. How low should we go with omega 6? 1 -4% calories is recommended by most researchers.  In a 2000cal diet this 2.2 – 8.8 grams omega 6 per day. (Edit: 24th July 2012 – I went to an omega 3 symposium recently and the recommendation from Dr Alex Richardson is 2 – 3% calories from omega 6 PUFA. That is just 3 – 5 grams a day. You would easily get that just be eating meat and seafood, let alone adding nuts or oils) Current thoughts are to focus on total amounts consumed each day not the ratio in different foods. Using 3-6 differences in essential fatty acids rather than 3/6 ratios gives useful food balance scores

How to decrease your Omega 6.

Most people are aware of the need to decrease omega 6, however my observation is that following the eating guidelines does not automatically mean people reduce omega 6 enough. Look at the CrossFit nutrition outline “…base your diet on garden vegetables, especially greens, lean meats, nuts and seeds, little starch, and no sugar.” What do many eat for snacks? Nuts. Particularly almonds. And many use almond meal as the basis for grain food alternatives like pizza bases. Just 100 grams of almonds – 3 small handfuls gives you a whopping 12 grams of omega 6.

So here’s what I’ve done to help you out. I pulled together some nutrition data from http://nutritiondata.self.com and made up some tables showing you the omega 6 content of oils, nuts and seeds, and meat. Aim to get not more that 6 – 10 grams of omega 6 per day, ideally 3 – 6 . Omega 6 oils should be replaced by those containing predominantly mono-unsaturated fat like olive, avocado and macadamia nut oil, and saturated fats like coconut oil if not sensitive to saturated fat (for some people saturated fats increase weight and LDL cholesterol).

Following that is a table of fish and seafood showing the omega 3 content per 100 grams of fish, make sure you add in enough omega 3 to give you around a 2:1 ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3. Instead of eating fish you can take fish oil. However I recommend you choose your oil carefully. Oxidation is a problem, I choose fish oil I know has been tested for oxidation, and smells and tastes fresh and clean.

Note: There is a lot of variation in the measurement of omega 6 and 3 content in foods, depending on the food the animal is fed, the food sample measured, variation in fat content between animals etc. I have tried to pick a representative measurement. Think of this as a guideline, it may not be 100% accurate for the food you are about to eat.

Here are the complete charts on a PDF

Omega 3 and 6 in fats, oils, nuts, seeds, meat and seafood

* New addition: New Zealand green lipped mussels per 100grams 1.5 g of DHA, 1.26 g of EPA, = 2460mg Omega 3, less than 500mg omega-6 fats. (Mark Sisson from this study)

An extensive list of seafood and Omega 3: Content Omega 3 fatty acid content of fish and seafood.

What about mercury in seafood?

Here is a great graphic from  The Washington Post

This list too is very helpful: Mercuy in New Zealand Fish


Tools to help you get your omega 6 to 3 ratio and amount right.

Nutrition Data, foods by nutrient search http://nutritiondata.self.com/tools/nutrient-search

Wolfgram Alpha, Paleo Robb shows you how to use this tool here

KIM-2 ( Keep It Managed, ver.2) contains eicosanoid-related data with the omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acid contents of over 9,000 food servings . KIM sorts and identifies foods with relatively high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids that help produce desired tissue fatty acid compositions as estimated from published metabolic data. http://efaeducation.nih.gov/sig/kim.html

Analyse your diet and it’s omega 3 and 6 content using Cron-O-Meter (I used this to analyse the fatty acids and amino acids in Durianrider’s mostly fruit diet.)

Nutrition in foods – here you can look up individual foods and get a nutrient breakdown including fatty acid types http://www.nutritioninfoods.com/

Getting your omega 3: 6 levels measured

To know where you are starting from and to monitor your progress you can get your omega 3:6 in blood cells measured

GeneSmart omega 3 test: http://www.genesmart.com/pages/omega_3_index_home_blood_testing_kit/105.php

Life Extension Foundation Omega Score test http://www.lef.org/Vitamins-Supplements/ItemLCOMEGA/Omega-Score-Blood-Test.html

Call Nutrasource Diagnostics 519-824-4120 x 58817 for a test kit

UK: Ideal Omega Test http://www.idealomegatest.com/

More reading on Omega 6 and Omega 3

March 20 2013: When saturated fats are exchanged for Omega 6 oils, heart deaths increase.

5th October 11 – New from Robb Wolf – “Fish Oil”

This website Omega-6 Fat News & Commentary by Evelyn Tribole, MS, RD, is devoted to this subject only and has a continuous feed of new studies. Download her table of Omega 6 content in 150 foods, link to this and other reading here

Chris Masterjohn for Weston A Price Foundation “Precious yet Perilous” Excellent article on Omega 3 and Omega 6

Krispin Sullivan, CN. Great article on Omega 3 and 6  (Graph of fat intake changes above comes from this article)

Understanding Nutrition: Balancing omega 3 and omega 6

Marks Daily Apple: The Definitive guide to oils and Farmed seafood, what is safe and nutritious?

US Omega 3 and 6 consumption over the last century

Chris Kresser When it comes to fish oil more is not better and more articles on omega 3 and 6 http://thehealthyskeptic.org/page/5?s=omega+6+3

Eat Wild: Grain fed vs grass fed animals, Where to find grass fed meat in USA

Peter Ballerstedt Is Grass Fed Beef Really “Rich in Omega 3s?

From Footsteps Farm today Lard Facts (Awesome article on the quality of pastured lard and fats in general)

Dr Barry Sears PhD, Understanding eicosanoid hormones and inflammation


  1. Wow…those tables look like a lot of work. Thank you.

    I know peanuts are legumes, but lots of folks think of them as nuts. So, from the Nutritiondata.com website, dry-roasted peanuts (100 g) have 15,691 mg of omega-6, and only 3 mg of omega-3. Terrible ratio if you’re trying to move in a paleo direction.

    I’m going to start eating more walnuts. Just wish they had more flavor.


        • The omega 3 found in walnuts is the short chain omega 3 – ALA – it is 18 carbons long. It is poorly converted to the longer chain EPA 20 carbons and DHA 22 carbons long that are the precursors of eicosanoid hormones. Whe looking at choosing any fat it is best to look at the total amount of omega 6 it delivers. It is the total amount eaten during a day that counts, and walnuts deliver a fair bit.
          Choose fats based on the amount of omega 6 in them – i.e pick those with the least.
          To balance the omega 6 choose seafood or meat with the highest omega 3. The omega 3 in seafood is the long chain EPA and DHA.

      • Thank you for this, Julianne. The charts are really helpful! Do you know if anybody has done a similar chart for the omega 3 and 6 fats in various legumes (beans, peas, lentils)? I’ve read that chickpeas have 26 more times omega 6s than 3s.

    • If you buy fresh nuts in their shells, keep them in the fridge and crack them when you are ready to eat them, they will taste great.
      All nuts have really really sensitive oils that go rancid immediately upon exposure to sunlight and oxygen.
      The taste difference is phenomenal!

    • I suffer from hormonal acne when I eat any dairy, eggs, nuts, pumpkin seeds, I just figured this out…so frustrating. Why am I so sensitive to the point I need to calculate the ratio in order to have clear skin? I have been adding ground flax seed to increase my omega 3 for the past 3 days, seems to have helped my skin. No new breakouts.
      My question is, for example, if I want to eat nuts or something higher in omega 6, do I have to consume a source of omega 3 at the same time of ingestion? Or as long as I eat enough Omega 3 through the day to balance the ratio I should be fine?
      I figured out that only a tbsp. of pumpkin seeds and walnuts that I was adding to my morning whole food smoothie (the one from Dr. Hyman, 10 day detox) was causing the acne! How can I be that sensitive?

      • Hey Dayna! =P

        To answer your question, for most people, you don’t necessarily have to eat your omega-3-dense foods in tandem with your omega-6-dense ones to keep your body at a healthy ratio as long as your daily net ratio is good. However, perhaps if you’re highly sensitive to fluctuations in your omega ratio, you might want to consider eating both types of foods within the same meal or relative time frame.

        Also, it wasn’t the walnuts that was causing you problems as walnuts has one of the best omega-3 to omega-6 ratios; it was definitely the pumpkin seeds. In addition, pastured eggs and omega-3 enriched eggs have DRASTICALLY different omega properties from conventional eggs.

        I did some research a few months ago on foods with (1) the best omega-3 to omega-6 ratios as well as (2) foods that are the most omega-3 DENSE. The following are my findings:

        Best Ratios (listed from best to least): [Salmon, cold water, fresh and frozen, cooked]>[Tuna, canned in water, drained]>Mackerel>[Cod, fresh and frozen]=Sardine oil=Cod Liver oil>Flaxseed oil>Chiaseed>Butter/Ghee>Cream Cheese>Canola oil>Hemp oil>Walnut>Walnut oil>Beef Tallow>Olive oil

        Most omega-3 DENSE (“>>” means much more dense than):
        Salmon, Mackerel,      Chia Seeds>>Flax Seeds, Walnuts,           Flax Seed Oil>>Sardine Oil, Cod Liver Oil

        Lastly, the following is a list of foods you want to avoid because of very high omega-6 content: non-organic beef, poultry, caged chicken eggs, non-organic dairy (e.g. yogurt, milk, butter, cheese), farmed fish, peanut butter, & most processed foods from a box, container, or jar.


        P.S. when I say “omega-3 dense”, i mean it has a lot of omega-3’s per gram in those foods.

        • Hi Mike
          Interesting about the poultry and caged chicken eggs. I have been wondering about that. Lots of good info, i.e. the omega rich eggs

    • I\’m sure the tables were a lot of work, but they are still very confusing. This site does not permit me to copy and paste the animal fats chart here, which would make what I have to say much easier. There is no consistency. You use grams, then milligrams, and different amounts, very confusing. I will have to use a calculator, compute the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 for each item, and then the whole thing might make some sense, and I can compare one to the other.

      • In my view that is a little bit pointless – what matters more is eating whole food sources of fats and getting the right balance over the course of the day – so if you put everything into cronometer.com – you will get an analysis of how much omega 3 and 6 the whole day gives. By using more foods high in 3 and less high in 6 you will get this ratio right.

  2. Thank you for these charts. In 2 of them, Plant Fats and Animal Fats, you did not include the Omega 3 amounts of each food. Was this intentional?

    • I worked out those first, so didn’t do the omega 3. I was just looking at omega 6 content. I’ll update them later when I have time. However most of these are poor sources of omega 3 in comparison to fish and seafood.

    • 3 eggs (1 egg weighs approx 50 grams) has approximately 3 grams of Omega 6. 2 teaspoons of butter has approx .2g, bringing your total omega 6 to just over 3 grams. So you can eat more than just the three eggs and butter and you will still be less than 10 g day omega 6.

    • Yes I did. Leafy greens – although they do have omega 3, it is short chain ALA as shown in the diagram in the post. It is 18 carbons long. EPA and DHA found in fish oil are 20 and 22 carbons long, only EPA and DHA are in their usable form, i.e. they can be directly converted into eicosanoid hormones. ALA has to be elongated by an enzyme – and in many people it is poorly converted to into the longer chain omega 3. Studies show perhaps 5% is converted. If you took the plants highest in omega 3 – grape leaves. 100 grams contains 856mg of ALA. 5% is converted to EPA/DHA – 100 grams of grape leaves gives you 40mg EPA/DHA. You need minimum 1000mg long chain omega 3 is re day for best health. 2.5 kg of grape leaves is required! That’s a lot.

      • Thank you Julianna, Are there Alga or microalgae which havent this Omega3s. And what is on marine phytoplancton?

        The Header foto is very inspirering and give joy*

        • I’m glad you like the header photo, it is from our summer camping trip, a car free camp ground on the edge of the sea where kids can be kids without technology. They are all planning some kind of game or activity together, my son in in the blue top and black pants. Note the boys and their sticks, never without them.

  3. Question: Your plant fats and animal fats tables have two columns both labeled omega 6, is that a typo? Is one of them Omega 3?


    • Yes, one column is mg per 100grams and the other is grams per 100 grams – both are omega 6. I put grams amounts in as it is a bit easier to read than mg.

  4. Julianne – thank you so much for doing all of this work and making it publicly available. I have been wanting to do this for myself, but just didn’t get around to it because the task is so daunting. This is really incredibly helpful and useful. Thanks again!!

  5. I reiterate the earlier commenter: So my 3 eggs scrambled in about half an ounce or more of butter reaches the 6g of Omega-6 level in just the one meal? How is that healthy when every paleo site you go to advocates eggs and butter? I eat paleo, but I see stuff like this that seems to suggest there are a lot of unanswered questions about Omega-6 and health.

    I appreciate the effort putting this together, not least because all similar charts I’ve seen involving Omega-6 have been overly complex and mainly unhelpful. I would suggest though that for the sake of comprehension you discard the mg numbers and instead classify everything in grams. either that or classify everything in mg but round the numbers so that it’s easier to deal with.

    Also – while 100 grams (btw , although they are scientific I hate damn the damn decimal system) or 4 ounces of protein is a good human-scale amount to use, the same amount is not good for fats. 25g – or about 1 ounce. would be a better reference point. If you made a really good chart, with “portions” or “dosages” that corresponded to what people actually eat you would have paleo folk using that as THE go-to resource for their Omega-6 and 3 reference.

    • 3 eggs (1 egg weighs approx 50 grams) has approximately 3 grams of Omega 6. 2 teaspoons of butter has approx .2g, bringing your total omega 6 to just over 3 grams. So you can eat more than just the three eggs and butter and you will still be less than 10 g day omega 6.

      I live in the decimal system, sorry but you guys in USA just don’t fit with the rest of the world!

      I take your point about different portions used for oils and fats, but personally I find when you start getting into portion sizes it all becomes confusing.
      If I have time – I’ll put in another column with a smaller portion for the oils and fats. However most people use small amounts of fat, 10 grams for example is just over 2 teaspoons – so divide the mg per 100grams by 10 and you get the amount of omega 6 in a desert-spoon measure.

      (I do this for love, and have to fit it around work that brings in money)

      • No – I understand this is a labor of love, and it is appreciated.

        But it says in the table that 1 egg scrambled has 1916 mg Omega-6. X3=5.75g, not 3g. so where does the figure of 3g come from?

  6. What about CLA? Its an Omega 6, but supposed to be very good at sparing muscle and burning fat. You must take 3-4 grams though to get good results.

  7. Interesting read on the CLA, but I have read numerous studies touting its effect on fat burning and muscle gain when injested. Since the natural ratio of Omega 6’s in nature is much higher than 3’s I have to wonder if we are missing something here.

    What about mercury in fish? If we start to eat a lot of high Omega 3 foods are we not endangering ourselves with heavy metal poisons?

    Just curious as I am not completely on Paleo/raw type diet, but for the most part eat this way.

    Thanks-great blog by the way…

  8. That’s fantastic, Julianne. Great minds think alike: I’m addressing the ALA to EPA/DHA conversion in my next post :). You have just made my job so much easier: I’ll definitely link to this post!

  9. i remember here where i grown up in south germany. its easy to get fresh walnuts in autmn. often here is abundance of fresh walnuts. this isnt store bought this isnt raw nuts. its not rancid. its fresh fallen from the tree. and if you have taste them they are different then store bought even raw certificated walnuts. its very fresh and juicy and less sticky to the teeth. other people live in the amazon rainforest andhave abundance of paranuts and some native cashews and native wild pecan or other jungle nuts. Do you think they look at omega 3 6 ration. no they doint. real life is more easy and more complex than science comics or scetch ups. that is why western price in his simple study are so famous cause its simple and real.

    so the best is to look at indegenous or traditional cultures with good health. And then make up an scientific research or science comic. i call it comic cause in a comic you cut different pieces or pictures together. and this is like a scienctific work.

    beside walnut tree is a natural remedie. you can use the leaves by to high sugar in blood and also by stomache problems and other issues if you read different herb books or textes.

  10. There is a rawfoodist she is a russian living in USA. She promotes greensmoothies with fruit and leafy greens. She says there is good mega3s in leafy greens. I dont know if this is something chalanging. Maybe its interesting to get inspired by.???!! Her name is victoria B…??? She is also refered by frederic patenaude another fruit rawfoodist…

    • Yes, I’ve heard of her, again, there are only a handful of people that seem to manage on a raw food plant diet. They stand out because they are the exception.

  11. Lisa,
    Is it possible to be allergic to omega 3’s. I have an allergic reaction to just about every one of them and my throat closes up after I eat one of them. I notice it is especially bad in the foods with the highest concentration of omega 3’s. Fish, flax, nuts…etc.
    Thanks for the info!

    • People are usually allergic to protein rather than fat. It is possible that highly purified fish oil – if it has no protein will not cause an allergic reaction.
      Perhaps you need to get allergy tested to find out exactly what you are allergic to.

  12. It is interesting to see that farmed atlantic salmon have higher O6 and lower 03 levels than wild caught atlantic salmon. That seems backwards to me.

    • I would expect to see wild salmon with a lower omega 6. The food wild salmon eat would be other sea creatures and that would have omega 3 at high levels. Farmed salmon would eat a diet that contains some grains or other agricultural foods that increase the omega 6 in their diet. This is why wild salmon is a better choice that farmed salmon.

      • Thanks for the reply, and you are right! I now see that I was mis-reading the charts (in the previous charts the O6 had been on the left and the O3 on the right).

        These charts are great! I saw that you replied to another commenter about getting these charts in Excel format. If I provided my e-mail address would that be a possibility for me, too?

        Thanks for compiling everything, Julianne. Your page is now my go-to guide for O6 and O3 information.

  13. Hi Julianne. Is the data for the eggs based on free-range eggs? I am Australian but live in Singapore and it is difficult to get free-range eggs here unless you pay a bucketload! However I have found some eggs that say they contain omega 3 and according to the nutrition info on the box, they contain 0.2g of EPA & DHA per 100gm (or 0.1g per 52g egg) and 0.3g of Linolenic acid per 100gm (or 0.2g per 52g egg). Is this a good ratio or do other factors effect this? Should I be paying the extra for the free range eggs?

    Also, I eat Paleo, but am very new to it. If we can only get our omega 3 from seafood, will I have to be eating seafood everyday to balance the ratio? I love seafood but eating it everyday can be hard, when my husband is not a big fan. Should I be taking a fish oil supplement? Really considering this option, but have no idea which is the best fish oil supplement to get. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    • It looks like those eggs have more omega 3 than standard eggs – I believe it is because they get fed more flax seed.
      I don’t think it is possible for people to get enough omega 3 unless they eat seafood or take fish oil. I take fish oil and notice I feel better when I do. I generally recommend about 1000 – 3000mg EPA+ DHA per day (add the EPA and DHA content of the fish oil capsule together)
      I look for omega 3 that has been purified, concentrated and tested for oxidation.

      • Wow, thanks so much for the speedy reply! Well, I’ll keep eating these eggs, but I’ll keep my eye out for some cheaper free-range eggs here. Great, I’ll start looking around for a really good fish oil supplement. I have been eating seafood everyday for the last 3 days and already feel better for it. Thanks for your help!

  14. There is no science behind the “keep omega 6 low ” MYTH, only assumptions and extrapolations. It is nothing more than an Internet MYTH and likely to INCREASE risk of coronary artery disease.

  15. Thanks for summarizing and sharing all of this important Omega 3/6 information Julianne! Very interesting and informative. I definitely need to reduce my poultry intake since it’s so high in Omega 6!

  16. I’m curious what you think of Patricia Kane’s work and research that shows that very often, people get too much omega 3 fats, and not enough omega 6 from evening primrose oil specifically (for it’s VLCSFA’S). She and Dr. Neil Speight M.D., and John Foster M.D., have helped thousands (their claim) recover from many different chronic conditions using this therapy. Here’s a link:


    • Yes – some people do not get enough long chain omega 6. Supplementing with Evening Primrose oil can be tricky. It is very easy to get too much. The amount required is so individual. If I take it I feel worse not better. I note that they suggest testing – measuring the fatty acids on cell membranes. That would certainly make supplementing more accurate.

  17. Julianne- Thank you so much for this info. I started a paleo diet 18 months ago, and within 3 weeks started having gallbladder attacks. My gb is full of stones from my lifetime of poor eating, but something about the paleo diet set it off. No one has been able to figure out why. I have gone off and on the diet about 3 times this year, and each time I restart the pains have returned, worse than before. My last round was 1-2 attacks each day for 3 weeks (ugh). I can’t take the pain anymore, and I have reluctantly scheduled surgery in 2 weeks. However, I am certain that this problem is the canary in the coal mine, and I am determined to correct it. I am not eating significantly more fat than before – I had already converted to coconut oil, gluten-free, etc, before going paleo. My feeling is that the omega-3/6 balance may be a part of the problem, and reading your article seems to confirm this. My version of paleo tends to be: chicken, beef, and almonds/almond meal. Very little fish, due to my lack of cooking skill with seafood. So I am thinking that the huge increase in omega-6 may have set off a chain of inflammation that was waiting to occur. If you have a moment, could you comment on whether or not you think this is a possible explanation? Many thanks! – Robyn

    • Could you please share your response to Robyn? I believe we share very similar issues… Many thanks for all of your great work!

    • I’ve heard of a few people who have had this experience – it may be because fat in the diet has been increased and this causes bile to be pushed out to digest it. Gallstone production is linked with high sugar / starch / insulin in the diet. So previous diet could have caused it and higher fat diet trigger release of stones.
      If you are not eating oily fish – do take fish oil, I find it makes a big difference in energy levels and reduced inflammation.
      Here is what one person has written about it:
      “As for gallstones, they occur when bile in the gallbladder becomes over saturated with cholesterol. Naturally, this leads people to wrongly assume that foods which are high in cholesterol and fat should be avoided. In fact, a low-fat diet will actually prevent the gallbladder from emptying, allowing the saturated bile to sit there for a long time and become crystallized, forming gallstones. It is actually the insulin response to the sugars that we eat that causes this super-saturation of the bile. Therefore, a diet that is high in sugar and low in fat is a double whammy of sorts and sets the table beautifully for the development of gallstones. On the other hand, a high-fat diet will result in a gallbladder that will empty on a regular basis and there won’t be any over-saturation of the bile.

      It is important to also know that once gallstones are created, moving to a high-fat diet will cause the gallbladder to empty, with the stones, and this may be quite painful. Whatever you do, don’t misinterpret this pain as being from the high-fat diet. Instead, realize that the pain is from the gallbladder’s elimination of the gallstones that a high-carb diet created in the first place. Sticking to a low-fat diet will keep the pain down, but only temporarily as the gallstones continue to increase in both size and number. It is important that you understand this and make the necessary dietary changes sooner rather than later.”

  18. Julianne, you mention that you “…look for omega 3 that has been purified, concentrated and tested for oxidation.”

    Can you recommend specific brands of fish oil tablets that meet your screening criteria?

  19. Omega-6 fatty acids lower LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol) and reduce inflammation, and they are protective against heart disease. So both omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids are healthy. While there is a theory that omega-3 fatty acids are better for our health than omega-6 fatty acids, this is not supported by the latest evidence. Thus the omega-3 to omega-6 ratio is basically the “good divided by the good,” so it is of no value in evaluating diet quality or predicting disease.

    • There is some debate around the studies that have been used with respect to relacing saturated fat with n-6 PUFA, and reducing CVD risk. Here is an exerpt from one critique:
      “Pedersen et al. state that trials have demonstrated unequivocally that ‘replacing SFA, largely from dairy and meat fats, by PUFA reduces serum cholesterol levels and CHD risk’, referring to a meta-analysis by Mozaffarian
      et al.(5). But Mozaffarian et al. note that their findings cannot distinguish between the potentially distinct benefits of increasing PUFA v. decreasing SFA, and that, given the limitations of each individual trial, the quantitative pooled risk estimate should be interpreted with some caution. Pedersen et al. state that the changes in CHD risk occurring in the trials mentioned were attributable to replacing SFA by PUFA, and that in the Leren trial(6), some trans-fatty acids (TFA) were also replaced by PUFA. Ramsden et al.(7) showed that in the Leren trial, the control group consumed 9·6 g/d of TFA, while in the experimental group TFA were restricted. Ramsden et al. also noted that a pooled analysis of prospective cohort studies showed that each 2 en% replacement of TFA with PUFA reduces CHD risk by 32%(7). In addition, they showed that in all seven trials included in the meta-analysis by Mozaffarian et al.(8), non-hydrogenated study oils were substituted for TFA-containing fats, oils and foods. The mean estimated TFA content of the seven control diets was 3·0 en%. It is not clear why the confounding role of TFA was not
      considered by Pedersen et al.” Hoenselaar, R. (2012). The importance of reducing SFA intake to limit CHD risk. British Journal of Nutrition, 107(3), 450-451.
      Omega 6 reduces both LDL AND HDL.
      We also need to be aware of population studies such – e.g. the Israeli paradox: Yam, D., Eliraz, A., & Berry, E. M. (1996). Diet and disease – The Israeli paradox: Possible dangers of a high omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid diet. Israel Journal of Medical Sciences, 32(11), 1134-1143.
      Also some people are sensitive to omega 6: In the Framingham Heart Study, gene variant APOA5*2 showed increased TG and smaller LDL size when PUFA in diet was >6%E
      I think we need to be cautious about hihg levels of dietary omega 6.
      Israeli Jews have a very high intake of omega 6 PUFA in comparison to the USA and other European countries. The authors ask whether this contributes to the high rates of heart disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance. N-6 PUFA are highly unsaturated and prone to lipid peroxidation and free radical formation.

  20. more important than the absolute values, it the ration omega 3/6 that matters; but mind you, too much omega 3 is bad naturally, for instance you’ve got Wound healing problem.

  21. After reading so much information about fats and oils I can honestly say I am no closer to an answer. For every study there is another one out there that contradicts it. I don’t believe any of you really know what you’re talking about but everyone seems to think they have the answer. I think the best strategy is to stick to as natural a diet as possible, so if it comes from a packet or bottle its probably not something you should eat a lot of.

    • I’ve read a lot of studies – and I agree to an extent – natural fats are best. However the overwhelming evidence points to a need to a certain amount of omega 3 in the diet. Less and you increase your risk of brain and blood vessel issues and inflammation. Excess omega 6 is also well linked to studies, – the amount we need is a little less clear.

    • I agree, lots of information and links.
      I am searching for a table or list to compare omega 6:omega 3 ratios of meats and other animal products. I am wondering what to do in practise to reduce omega 6 intake. Which of the meat products (beef, pork or eggs..) should be replaced with the “grass-fed” one fat irst.

  22. A quick question.

    For eggs, it isn’t very clear about the size. “Egg whole” means one whole, normal size egg right?

    What about egg yolk? What size is it? Any data for egg white?

    • I refers to 100 grams of whole egg. Egg whites have no fat in them.
      Egg yolk data would be useful – I’ll look into that, egg yolk is appraximately half the egg, so egg yolks only would double the omega 6

  23. Hi …I am starting to think that we can over-analyse things where we are losing the bigger picture. Nuts and seeds won’t bugger you up, in fact they have a host of nutritional components (not least magnesium) which are shown to reduce inflammation and prevent the onset of disease.
    As long as our carbs are kept low~ish enough that we are chiefly burning fat then I think we can find healthy balance in our bodies.
    Foods are greater than the sum of their parts I think
    Here is a good paper I came across which may help those wondering about can they eat nuts or not :

  24. Just wondering about almond flour in relation to Omega 6? As its the most common flour to be using on a Paleo diet, can you overdo it?

    • If you use 100 grams of almond flour – that is the same as using 100 grams of almonds. Yes – it is easy to overdo, and get too much omega 6. I don’t recommend using lots of almond flour.

  25. Thank you so much, very interesting reading. I just had let you know Santaleuca Sandalwood Products, have the tick of approval to sell for HUMAN CONSUMPTION, West Australian Sandalwood Nuts, which contain 37.9% OMEGA 9 OILS per 100gms. Triple bonding.

    Michelle Fry

  26. Hi, I noticed that most of the charts here list omega 3 ALA, not DHA or EPA. Could it likely be a little misleading?Any other credible sources that provide information on DHA or EPA in foods?
    Thanks for the great work!

    • Hi,
      Yes – I focussed on the omega 6 content and how to reduce it.
      I supplied the omega 3 charts of seafood to shwo how to get enough long chain EPA, DHA.
      There is only a little in other animal sources.

  27. Hi, I noticed that the charts provide omega 3 content mostly as in ALA, not DHA or EPA. Thanks for the content nevertheless!!!

  28. Thank you, very interesting. We are new to the market with Santaleuca Sandalwood Nuts, which contain 38% Omega 9 oil, monounaturated, tripple bonding fatty acid. They are of benefit to our bodies, but once again as you say all in moderation. Good reading.
    Michelle Fry
    0428 647409

  29. I am making chocolate chip cookies and want to use the healthiest oil/fat. I have used light olive oil which I think is pretty healthy and tastes great. Does light olive oil have the same omega 6 and 3 as virgin olive oil?

    I thought of using walnut oil, since the omega 3 looks huge, but so does the 6 – is light olive oil better?

    Is grass-fed butter healthier than olive oil?

    Lastly, is the omega 3 in olive or walnut oil destroyed during baking?

  30. This is terrible! What would you suggest to have as a salty snack since I wouldn’t actually have a handful of flax or chia seeds as a snack but rather some sunflower seeds, peanuts, walnuts or almonds?

  31. Very nice article. I am very interested in the tables you presented. I can’t seem to find your original reference for those charts. Can you help me? Thank you

  32. Thanks for the article. Just one comment. With all that work, so why didn’t you just calculate the ratios? Add another column to your graph it would be more helpful. Did you do this in excel..takes a few minutes!

    • Why – because I don’t think ratios are particularly useful. What matters is how much omega 3 to omega 6 you get over the day. We use a variety of different fats and oils. I recommend putting all your food into cronometer.com to see how the day works out overall in total amounts and ratios

  33. Hi Julianne,

    Your hard work and time are greatly appreciated.

    Just wondering if you have ever heard of Professor Brian Peskin? He is recommending to focus more on Omega 3 than Omega 6, entirely quitting the use of fish-oils (man-made) and replacing with plant-based oils.

    You can find his recent talk here:

    Extremely interested in hearing your thoughts.


  34. Your site seems very interesting, and I will continue reading, but – and perhaps my crankiness is caused by too much omega-6 – in the first paragraph you say, \” Did you know just 60 grams of almonds gives you all the omega 6 you need – and more may be detrimental?\” 60 grams: how the hell much is that? Why don\’t you just give us a number of almonds, so a person does not have to waste his time trying to find out how much an almond weighs? It bothers me that an otherwise intelligent person would do this.

  35. Wonderful informative info, thanks for sharing!

    What a great effort and dedication
    (especially the follow up comments!)

    Thank you


  36. Hi Julianne,

    I am just beginning to balance out my Omega 3:6 ratio, so I want the best ratio possible, at least in the beginning to bring my unhealthy ratio down quickly.

    In addition to eating salmon, I’d like to have some dressing on my salad, but still end up consuming more Omega 3s. If olive oil has a 6-3 ratio of 10:1 I should avoid it, correct? It seems like the only oil with a good ratio is flaxseed oil, that could get expensive. The next best would seem like an unrefined cold-pressed canola oil.

    I’m assuming butter oil basically means ghee? That ratio is pretty good, I suppose I could use it to make a dressing and then just barely heat it to melt it and put it on salad.


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