Can consuming too much omega-6 fatty acids be unhealthy?

Grant Cooper, MD
Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
The problem is not whether or not you consume too much omega-6 fatty acids, but the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids in your diet. The rate of converting the consumed fatty acids into the membranes of the cells of the body, and the rate of metabolizing the fatty acids and building them into inflammatory mediators, is averaged out over the different kinds of fatty acids you eat.

From an evolutionary standpoint, humans historically sustained themselves on diets rich in seafood, nuts, vegetables, and grassfed game, all of which are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Scientists generally believe that humans are designed to function optimally when the food they consume has a ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids of 1:1 or 2:1, but no higher than 4:1. The average American diet has a ratio of 10-30:1, or even higher, which is not healthy. This situation probably developed as the result of our increasing consumption of processed food, which contains a high amount of hydrogenated oil. This wildly uneven ratio has been blamed for contributing to and perhaps being the cause of heart disease, a leading cause of death in the United States.
The Arthritis Handbook: Improve Your Health and Manage the Pain of Osteoarthritis (A DiaMedica Guide to Optimum Wellness)

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The Arthritis Handbook: Improve Your Health and Manage the Pain of Osteoarthritis (A DiaMedica Guide to Optimum Wellness)

According to conventional wisdom, arthritis pain is an inevitable part of aging. Not so, says Dr. Grant Cooper in this practical, accessible guide. For those who do develop osteoarthritic conditions,...

Continue Learning about Fats


At 9 calories per gram, fats can add up quickly in your diet, yet experts recommend that you get only 7% of your calorie intake from fat. Fats also affect your cholesterol, and there are both good and bad fats. The best kind of fa...

ts are called unsaturated fats, and can be found in oils like olive and canola oils, nuts and seeds. These fats can help your body get rid of cholesterol. Saturated fats often have had hydrogen added to them to make them more solid. Other saturated fats are found in cream, butter and meats. They can raise your blood cholesterol. Its wise to learn which is which and check nutrition labels to make proper choices.

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.