Diets that are too high in omega-6 fats have been associated with chronic diseases, such as heart disease, arteriosclerosis, diabetes and inflammatory tissue disorders, such as certain types of arthritis. Balancing omega-6 fats with omega-3 fats in the diet, however, have been found to lessen these problems.
As a result of these findings, the American Heart Association now recommends eating omega-3 rich fatty fish, such as sardines, salmon and albacore tuna packed in water, two times per week to increase the amount of omega-3 fat in the diet.
But Bruce Watkins, professor and university faculty scholar at Purdue University, says you can find foods other than fish that also have healthy amounts of omega-3s.
Lean meat, plus fruits and vegetables can also contain omega-3s. "Now there are also omega-3 enriched eggs that you can buy in the supermarket," he says.
In the future, more foods will be available with omega-3s added. Watkins is conducting an experiment of feeding algae that is high in omega-3s to dairy cattle to increase the amount of this good fat in their milk.
"We collected the milk fat and made cheese, butter and yogurt that has high levels of omega-3," he says. "This research is one of the ongoing projects at the Center for Enhancing Foods to Protect Health." Watkins is director of the Purdue-based center.
To reduce the amount of omega-6 fat in the diet, Watkins says to limit fatty meats and vegetable cooking oils, except canola, olive or flaxseed oil.
"Most of the margarine and vegetable spreads that we use have high levels of omega-6s. The cooking oils generally have high levels of omega-6, except canola and flaxseed oil," Watkins says. "So if you are concerned about the amount of
Contact: Steve Tally