Feb 22, 2016
14 Carrot Gold Soup + What is the ideal omega 3 to 6 ratio and why?
Greetings, oh wondrous ones! I have a yummy soup recipe for you today, title compliments of my wordsmith, Mr. Mountain Man himself. What’s so special about this soup other than its amazing color? Well, the flavor for one. The texture… like silk. And it’s got a heaping helping of that most-talked-about-of-late, natural anti-inflammatory, turmeric! Yep, gold on gold with all those carrots and that amazingly healthy little tuber. And I used a LOT of turmeric in this baby, but the recipe calls for less. If you’re a fan, go ahead and use as much as you want. But for some, it may be an acquired taste, so if you’re not used to it, use the recommended amount. You can always add more!
What’s that yummy, white, creamy stuff that I designed with on top? I made a cream with walnuts and hemp seeds. So easy and so healthy… I’m on a crusade to balance my omega 3:6 ratio and have learned some startling figures about a few of the foods that I used to eat a lot of. The recommended ratio for these essential fatty acids is about 1:1, which is really hard to do consuming the Standard American Diet, only because so many of our commonly consumed foods are way off kilter, having so much more omega 6 than omega 3. Why is this ratio so important, anyway? Well, to answer that, we need to back up a little and talk about these essential fatty acids and why they are important in and of themselves. They are called essential fatty acids because our bodies cannot manufacture them on their own and therefore they must be obtained through the foods we eat.
There are three major types of omega-3 fatty acids that are ingested in foods and used by the body: alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an essential fatty acid, whose primary utility is its ability to be converted into the long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPUFAs) eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). While the body can convert ALA to EPA and DHA, the conversion rate is generally inadequate to provide sufficiency of EPA and DHA. Therefore, EPA and DHA are referred to as “conditionally essential.”
We’ve all been indoctrinated about the importance of omega 3 fatty acids; just visit any health food store or drug store and you’ll see the shelves lined with so many kinds of fish oils promoting such. It is true that omega 3 is crucial to our health and most of us get too little of it in proportion to omega 6, even when supplementing. Why is this so? It’s because most oils such as corn, peanut, canola, olive (yes, olive oil!), etc. contain huge amounts of omega 6 compared to omega 3. And oil is so ubiquitous—it’s in almost all processed foods—and then we cook with it and slather our salads with it, too! Not good.
Excessive amounts of omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids and a very high omega-6/omega-3 ratio, as is found in today’s Western diets, promote many diseases, including cardiovascular disease, cancer, and autoimmune diseases and is pro-inflammatory. Whereas omega 3, in the form of DHA, has a positive effect on diseases such as hypertension, arthritis, atherosclerosis, depression, adult-onset diabetes, myocardial infarction, thrombosis, and some cancers and is anti-inflammatory. So then, why is omega 6 important at all? We need inflammation sometimes! When we get a cut, for example, the body will cause inflammation (pain=ouch!=move away!) but will also, through inflammation, create the healing process. The early stages of inflammation enlist the immune system to protect the body from an injury and to control infection, and later stages work to re-grow damaged tissue and start the wound healing process. So inflammation has its place, as do omega 6 fatty acids.
Back to my walnut-hemp cream. In the past I would have just used cashew cream… my go-to for just about everything from coffee creamer (on the few occasions that I indulge) to ice cream bases. But I recently found out that the omega 6:3 ratio in cashews is 128:1! Oh, no. You read that right. So (big disappointing sigh) cashews are now off my menu for the most part. Walnuts, on the other hand tally in at 4:1. Much more aligned with where we are trying to go. Hemp seeds are even better at 2.5:1. But the real stars of the show are chia seeds (YAY!!!) at 3:1 in favor of omega 3! That’s 3 parts omega 3 to one part omega 6. So eat your chia seeds everyone.
Okay, I’m almost done with today’s biochemistry lesson. But there is one more very important point here that I want to make. As I mentioned earlier, there are so many people who take fish oil supplements and others who just insist that they can only get their DHA from fish. Well, guess what? FISH DO NOT MANUFACTURE DHA!!! What? Then where do they get it? From algae. That’s right. The fish get the algae from the water and the people eat the fish to get the DHA that’s in the algae. It’s silly really. Why not just go to the source? Personally, I consume marine phytoplankton which is a superior source of DHA. You can also purchase algae-derived DHA/EPA over at Dr. Fuhrman’s website. The phytoplankton that I take (linked above to my Amazon store) is pretty pricey but with this type of product it is so important not to skimp on quality. I did a ton of research and this product is the purest and most potent one around. And you only need ½ tsp per day, so one package goes a long way.
Well, I hope you haven’t gone to sleep on me! Let’s get to today’s recipe. 🙂
- Pharmacol Res. 1999 Sep;40(3):211-25. Health benefits of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) Horrocks LA1, Yeo YK.
- Biomed Pharmacother. 2002 Oct;56(8):365-79. The importance of the ratio of omega-6/omega-3 essential fatty acids. The Center for Genetics, Nutrition and Health, Washington, DC 20009, USA. firstname.lastname@example.org
- Biomedicine & Pharmacotherapy; Volume 56, Issue 8, October 2002, Pages 365–379; A.P Simopoulos,
The Center for Genetics, Nutrition and Health, 2001 S Street, N.W., Suite 530, Washington, DC 20009, USA