Omega 3/6 Balance Score

What is an Omega 3/6 balance score? Omega 3/6 balance score is a single value that point out the impact of a food on the relative proportions of omega-3 and omega-6 HUFA(highly unsaturated fatty acids) in one's cells.
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How to Use

This tool helps you to choose foods that have a positive Omega 3/6 balance score.
  • Sort - You can sort your food by name or balance score. You can see the entire list.
  • Navigate - You can navigate from page to page or directly go to the required food as per your requirement.

What is Omega 3/6 Balance Score?

Before going into the details of Omega 3/6 balance score and its advantages, we should have a fair idea about the Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids. You should know what they comprise of and how they can affect the human body.

What is Omega 3?

Scientifically speaking, "Omega 3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids with a double carbon bond. This double bond lies at the third carbon atom from the end of the carbon chain."

This gives the fatty acid the name "Omega 3".

In simple terms Omega 3 are good fatty acids. They are essential for performing many bodily functions and maintaining the brain and nerve functioning. You should know that our body is not able to produce these fatty acids. The only source available to us is food. You can get this Omega 3 from fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, and tuna. Vegetarians can obtain the same from nuts such as walnuts and flaxseed.

What is Omega 6?

Scientifically, "Omega 6 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids with a double carbon bond at the end, i.e. the sixth position from the methyl end.". This gives the name "Omega 6."

In simple terms, Omega 6 is a linoleic acid obtained from plant oils such as corn oil, soya bean oil, sunflower oil, and from nuts and seeds.

Effect of Omega 3 and Omega 6:

Our body converts the Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids into a large family of hormones. These hormones act at selective receptors on every cell and nerve. You should ensure the exact proportion of Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids in our body.

A deficit of Omega 3 could result in an abundance of Omega 6 and result in health disorders. Similarly, an abundance of Omega 3 can have an opposite effect on the Omega 6 proportion causing health problems.

You should know how to strike the perfect balance between the Omega 3 and the Omega 6 levels. This explains the importance of the Omega 3/6 balance score.

Background into the research:

The American nutritional biochemist, William E.M. Lands has made extensive research on the subject. He has been the source of inspiration to scientists such as Sune K Bergstrom, Bangt I. Samuelsson, and John R. Vane. These three scientists won the Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine in the year 1982 for their work on biologically active substances.

Omega 3/6 Balance Score:

The scientist, Bill Lands developed a very simple formula summarizing in a single value the balance among omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids present in a particular food. By studying this table, you get a quantitative estimate of the impact of each food item on the proportions of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. You get a fair idea about the accumulation of these fatty acids in your blood stream. This is an important health-risk assessment biomarker.

What is a health-risk assessment biomarker?

Your diet should have a balanced omega 3 / 6 position. You should watch what you eat. In case your diet includes a high percentage of omega 6 foods, it reduces the effectiveness of the omega 3 fatty acids. The balance score formula helps you make wise food choices and keep your omega ratios at a healthy level.

Effect of Omega 3/6 balance scores:

You should note the following as far as omega 3 and omega 6 scores are concerned.

  • Foods having a positive Omega 3/6 balance score will increase proportion of omega 3 in your cells.
  • Similarly, foods with negative Omega 3/6 balance score will increase proportion of Omega 6 in your cells.
  • As a rule, you should favor foods with positive scores, especially scoring “+5” or higher in your diet.
  • Similarly, you should minimize foods with negative scores, especially scoring “-5” or less.
  • Fatty foods can have a great impact on your body, even if taken in modest servings. Some examples of these foods are seafood, oils, nuts, seeds, and poultry.
  • Leaner foods will not have that much of an impact. These foods include milk, fruits, and vegetables.

We shall enumerate some foods with their Omega scores as follows. The resources are as below.

Positive Score foods: These include substantially more Omega 3 than Omega 6.

  • Fatty fish: Salmon, tuna etc have scores ranging from +20 to +70
  • White fish: Cod and halibut have scores ranging from +10 to +30
  • Shellfish: Crab, shrimp etc have scores ranging +10 to +30

Neutral or Mixed Score foods: These foods have roughly equal amounts of Omega 3 and Omega 6.

  • Vegetables: Spinach, lettuce and other green leafy vegetables have scores ranging from +7 to -6.
  • Fruits: Most of the fruits are in the range of +0.5 to -1. Olives and avocados score higher at -6 and -12 respectively.
  • Grains, flour, pasta, and cereals: These foods have a range of 0 to -2.
  • Beans: They have a score ranging from 0 to -0.5
  • Cheese, Yogurt and Milk have a score ranging from +0.4 to -0.5.
Negative scores:

We shall now consider the negative score foods where the proportion of Omega 6 is higher than that of Omega 3.

  • Vegetable oils: They have scores ranging from -4 to -74. Corn oil, soy and regular sunflower oil have scores ranging from -36 to -74.
  • Nuts and seeds: The scores range from -10 to -44. Walnuts score -44 and sesame seeds have a score of -35.
  • Meats and poultry: The scores range from -1 to -7.
  • Breads and pastries: The scores range from -1 to -10.
  • Whole eggs have a score of -12 and yolks -16.

Apps available:

There is also an application called "Omega Foods" available for mobile and desktop platforms. if you prefer to store food scores on your computer for offline use, you can download "Omega Foods" here

There is another application, "Omega Meals" for the Windows and Macintosh computers. This application can help you make the daily menu plans according to the Omega 3/6 balance scores.

How should your food intake be?

You should improve your score by limiting the top sources of omega 6 such as

  • Peanut and other nut butters, chips and buttered popcorn.
  • Packaged foods, margarine and fried battered chicken
  • Vegetable oils

Try to get your calories form low fat and neutral score foods such as vegetables, fruits, grains. You can also try out the foods with positive scores such as seafood and flaxseed.

These scores are indicative. You should try to balance out the diet by including a range of foods so that you achieve the optimum Omega 3/6 balance score.

How do You Test your Omega Balance at Home?

You can do a simple blood test at home to check on your omega 3/6 balance score. A blood sample from your fingertip can give you the current balance of Omega 3 and Omega 6 HUFA accumulated in your body.

Bill Lands and Doug Bibus have given radio talks about this simple blood test and its advantages.