Omega-6 is another type essential PUFAs perform varies protective functions in human body. It also plays a crucial role in brain function and development. Adequate omega-6 intake helps to maintain healthy status of organs and body functions.
Although omega-6 is beneficial, excessive intake may raise the risk of numeric chronic diseases. As omega-3 and omega-6 compete in some reaction pathways in the human body, excessive intake of omega-6 causes high omega-6 to omega-3 ratio will result in lower omega-3 utilization, thus can contribute to inflammation and result in heart disease, cancer, asthma, arthritis, and depression. The ideal omega-6/ omega-3 intake ratio should be in the range of 1:1 to 2:1. However in American/western diet, this ratio is higher than 20:1, which means most people in America are taking omega-6 much more than necessary.
Omega-6 to omega-3 ratio relates to reproductive health
Besides the diseases mentioned above, imbalanced omega-6 to omega-3 intake may relate to infertility. One study found the ratio of serum omega-6/omega-3 was significantly higher in infertile male (14.3) compare to healthy controls (6.3). Researchers studied women undergoing assisted reproduction. This 2018 published study found that serum ratio of ω6 to ω3- PUFA was inversely associated with peak estradiol levels, which stands for ovarian response to stimulation. It suggests lower omega-6 to omega-3 ratio is preferred for healthier ovation.
Omega-6 promotes human reproductive health when omega-6 and omega-3 ratio is balanced at a healthy level. In a 2016 published study, increased preconception Omega-6/ Linoleic acid intake with a trend for an elevated intake of omega-3 positively affected pregnancy rate of overweight /obese women undertaking in vitro fertilization. The omega-6 to omega-3 ratios in this study remains constantly about 6 before and after increasing omega-6 intake.
Balance omega-6 to omega-3 dietary intake
Balanced omega-6 and omega-3 intake in our diet is important for maintaining optimal health. Major omega-6 source in our diet is cooking oils. If you dine out or eat processed food frequently, then your omega-6 intake is most likely higher than healthy level.
Reduce the intake of cooking oil, such as sunflower oil, soybean oil, and nuts, such as walnut, almond, pistachio, which are cooking oils and nuts containing most Omega-6 according to USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 28. Again, fish is the ideal omega-3 source with low omega-6 level.