Omega-6 fats or linoleic acid are considered essential fats because our body cannot produce them alone. We can only get them by eating foods high in omega-6. They support bone health, reproductive health, brain function and metabolism. However, too much omega-6 fatty acids can lead to an increased risk of cancer, cardiovascular disease and inflammatory. It is necessary to know the healthy omega-6 food sources when taken in moderation and the ones to avoid to prevent serious health conditions.
Walnuts are an excellent source of omega-6 fatty acids. They provide 10,666 mg of omega-6 per ounce. They are heart friendly because of their high fiber content. Eating walnuts can help avoid over consumption of fats because they also contain omega-3 fatty acid that helps reduce high blood pressure and high cholesterol which are common risk factors for heart disease.
2. Safflower Oil
Omega-6 fatty acids are naturally found in safflower oil. One tablespoon of safflower oil contains about 10,447 mg of omega-6. It is considered a healthy cooking oil because it helps the body maintain a healthy balance of cholesterol. Its high content of omega-6 also helps the body to burn fat, definitely a good choice for people who are trying to lose weight.
3. Pork Loin
Aside from having low calories and plenty of essential vitamins such as thiamin (52%), niacin (37%), vitamin B6 (30%), riboflavin (21%) and vitamin B12 (8%), pork loin also contains about 2,156 mg of omega-6 per 3 ounces. Its health benefits include burning of fats, healthy digestion, healthy skin, improved heart health and reduction of cholesterol and high blood pressure.
Butter is a very important part of our diet but should be taken in small amounts. One tablespoon of butter contains about 14 grams of omega-6 fatty acid which is good for muscle growth, keeping a healthy nervous system and brain development. If you want to opt for a healthier (organic) butter, go for grass-fed one.
5. Chicken Thigh
You get a lot of health benefits when you eat chicken. It is rich in protein, phosphorus and calcium required to develop muscles and keep your bones healthy. A cooked chicken thigh has high omega-6 content of 85 grams per 3 ounces. For a healthy diet, it is recommended to take less than 6 ounces of skinless chicken per day
6. Cookies, Cakes, Pastries and Candies
If you want to lower down your omega-6 fat intake, then avoid or limit your consumption of these foods. The linoleic acid present in a piece of chocolate chip cookie is about 1,048 mg; 8,446 mg in one piece of brownie; 2,540 mg in a piece of chocolate cake; 7,856 mg in a puff pastry; and 564 mg in 1 Twix bar.
7. McDonald’s Fillet-O-Fish
Many people are eating too much omega-6 fatty acids from fast foods, and it is not good because excessive intake may lead to certain diseases. McDonald’s Fillet-O-Fish contains 6,925 mg of omega-6 fats. Other fast foods that contain omega-6 rich fats include Burger King Hash Browns (13,504 mg per serving), Wendy’s Chicken Nuggets (13,019 mg per serving), Tuna Subway (28,208 mg per serving) and TGI Friday’s Chicken Fingers (20,916 mg per serving).
8. Snacks Made with Omega-6 Rich Fats
You can determine the amount of linoleic acid or omega-6 on a particular snack depending on the oil or fat used to make them. The total omega-6 present per ounce of reduced fat potato chips is 3,366 mg. Other snacks with high omega-6 include corn chips (5,082 mg), barbecue chips (4,183 mg), popcorn (6,255 mg), potato chips (5,160 mg), cheese tortilla chips (3,695 mg) and corn tortilla chips (2,720 mg).
9. Sunflower Seeds
Seeds, like nuts, are a healthy source of essential omega-6 fatty acids. An ounce of sunflower seeds provides 9,558 mg of omega-6 and pumpkin seeds contain 5,791 mg. Chia and flax seeds also have an excellent omega-3 to omega-6 ratio. 1 to 2 tablespoons of seeds a day is more than enough; they are full of nutrients you don’t have to consume a lot of them.
A cooked beef short rib provides 1,721 mg of omega-6 per 3 oz. Beef also provides essential nutrients like iron, protein, zinc and B vitamins. You can include 3 ounces of beef once or twice a week for a healthy diet. Lamb is also one source of food high in omega-6 (3,307 mg per oz.)
Anything in excess is not good. Omega-6 is an essential fatty acid but it must be consumed in moderation and its food sources should be taken in the right amounts. There should always be a balance between omega-6 and omega-3 for a healthy diet. The recommended ratio is about 2:1 omega-6 to omega-3.