Balancing EFA’s with the Alkaline Diet

Balancing EFA’s with the Alkaline Diet

by: Cassandra Stirling

Most people are familiar with the guidelines that 30% of your calories should come from “Good Fats”. However, what many people do not know is that the proper ratio of these fats is necessary when it comes to overall health.

Essential fatty acids (EFA) are healthy fats that one's bodies cannot produce so they must come from one's diet. EFAs take two forms: omega-3 fatty acids (specifically alpha-linolenic acid) and omega-6 fatty acids (specifically linoleic acid). Your body can make any other fat it needs from these two essential fats.

The problem is that modern diets tend to deliver more omega-6 fatty acids than we need and not enough omega-3 fatty acids. This is mainly because of the excessive consumption of fried and processed foods. In fact, the typical American diet tends to contain 14 to 25 times more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3 fatty acids. People often think, what’s the big deal; are not both EFAs good for me? They are not alone in their lines of thinking. Many people grow up believing that vegetable oils (where a lot of the omega-6 fats come from) are good for them. While omega-6s are necessary for proper health, their imbalance with omega 3s can be harmful. Western diets, which contain unusually high omega-6/omega-3 ratios, are a known contributor to many illnesses and diseases, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. On the contrary, increased levels of omega-3 and decreased levels of omega-6 (a low omega-6/omega-3 ratio) have suppressive effects. The recommended ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 is not exactly known, but most suggest anywhere from 1:1 to 4:1. That is a far cry from the average 20:1 ratio that many of us have now.

Essentially anything one can do to narrow the gap is beneficial. In order to achieve a more favorable ratio, it is necessary to increase the amount of omega-3 fatty acids while decreasing the amount of omega-6 fatty acids in your diet. This can be easily accomplished with an alkaline diet. Most people associate omega-3 fatty acids with fish oils; however, there are many other prominent alkaline sources. In fact, flax seeds and flaxseed oil have the highest percentage of omega-3 fatty acids of any food including fish. Other leading alkaline sources include almonds, sunflower seeds, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, avocados and avocado oil. In addition, dark leafy green vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, kale, mustard greens and collard greens are all rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Non vegetarians can consume wild-caught cold-water fish like salmon or, can take an omega-3 fish oil capsule. The co-op store has non-vegan and vegan omega-3 fatty acids capsules, as well as organic flax seeds and flaxseed oil.

To reduce your consumption of omega-6s, cut back on meats and dairy products or buy free-range or pasture fed meat, which has a much better fatty acid ratio than caged or corn fed animals. Avoid deep fried foods and processed foods as they are often made using cheap vegetable oils. Replace vegetable oils that contain extremely high amounts of omega-6 fatty acids and low levels of omega-3 fatty acids (grape seed, sunflower, cottonseed, safflower and corn oils) with extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil or canola oil.

Finally, do not increase omega 3s without decreasing omega 6s. Fat is still high in calories and can add on the pounds and remember to avoid deadly trans fats like hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. Heart disease, cancer, atherosclerosis and a range of other health problems are linked to such fats.

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These statements have not been evaluated by the food and drug administration.  The preceding information and/or products are for educational purposes only and are not meant to diagnose, prescribe, or treat illness. Please consult your doctor before making any changes or before starting ANY exercise or nutritional supplement program or before using this information or any product during pregnancy or if you have a serious medical condition.