Thursdays with Dr. Tadashi

Let’s continue our talk about omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids! If you missed out on the previous post, refer back to it here. Just for a refresher, let’s do a quick review:

  • Omega- 3 fatty acids are in seed oils (flaxseed, hemp, walnut), microalgae/seaweed, fish (tuna, mackerel), and green vegetables. They are anti-inflammatory, decrease blot clots, dilate out blood vessels, and decrease sensation of pain.
  • Omega-6 fatty acids are found in vegetable oils (corn, sunflower) and meat products (highest in chicken, duck, and beef). They have a complementary effect to omega-3 fatty acids: increase inflammation and blood clots, constrict blood vessels and increase sensation of pain.
  • A 1:1 balance of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids are necessary for proper bodily functions, but in the Western diet, the ratio is vastly disproportionate - sources cite the omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acid ratio is 16:1 to 20:1.

How Should We Decrease Omega-6 Fatty Acids?

Now that you’re caught up to speed on what we addressed last time, I’m sure some of you are wondering HOW we can make it a more balanced ratio, especially when vegetable oils are a necessary component of home cooking and are incorporated in a majority of foods sold in grocery stores, right?

The University of California - Davis (my Alma Mater - GO AGGIES!) has an integrative medicine department that addressed this issue a few weeks ago that was very intriguing and helpful (click here)! The article recommends substitutes for your oils (or getting rid of it), depending on your cooking method! What an intriguing concept right?

  • Sautéing: Add just a tablespoon of broth/water and get it hot. Then add your ingredients and keep stirring to prevent any burns.
  • Baking/Roasting: Slow and steady always wins the race - bake the ingredients (without any coating of oil) in a lower temperature for a longer time. For a browning effect, just put it under the broiler for just a minute.
  • Steaming: This is the healthiest way to cook, because it retains the most of the nutrients, and it’s my personal favorite way of cooking. Even if you don’t have a steamer basket, just boil a small amount of broth/water, add the ingredients, and cover for a few minutes - voila!  

How Much Omega-3 Fatty Acids Should We Be Consuming on a Daily Basis?

Different sources (World Health Organization, National Academy of Sciences, American Dietetic Association and others) have different recommendations, but averages out to be about 1,100 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids a day (7,700 milligrams weekly). Here are some helpful tidbits to help you get to your daily goals of omega-3 fatty acids!

So next time you’re at the grocery store, be more conscious about the amount of omega fatty acids you are consuming and keep in mind to keep the ratios as close to 1:1 as possible.

Do you have other suggestions on how to substitute vegetable oils in your cooking/baking adventures? Did you try the UC-Davis’ method of cooking without oils? How did it go? Let us know by commenting below!

Tadashi was born in Tokyo and grew up in the beautiful Bay Area. He graduated from UC-Davis with a major in biological science, is a recent graduate of medical school, and has post-graduate training as a health coach and in nutritional therapy...Read more here.