As if you weren’t already feeling bad about yourself because of your poor diet, now you have another reason to get more omega-3 fatty acids in your diet. Take a look at this from Reuters:

The imbalance of fatty acids in the typical American diet could be associated with the sharp increase in heart disease and depression seen over the past century, a new study suggests.

Specifically, the more omega-6 fatty acids people had in their blood compared with omega-3 fatty acid levels, the more likely they were to suffer from symptoms of depression and have higher blood levels of inflammation-promoting compounds…

[…]

Hunter-gatherers consumed two or three times as much omega-6 as omega-3, Kiecolt-Glaser’s team notes in their study, published in Psychosomatic Medicine, but today Westerners consume 15- to 17-times more omega-6 than omega-3.

The researchers investigated the relationship among fatty acid consumption, depression and inflammation in 43 older men and women. The 6 individuals diagnosed with major depression had nearly 18 times as much omega-6 as omega-3 in their blood, compared with about 13 times as much for subjects who didn’t meet the criteria for major depression.

Just in case that doesn’t make much sense to you, here’s the gist: eat more foods with omega-3 fatty acids, and less foods with omega-6 fatty acids. This doesn’t mean you should avoid omega-6, but that we should try to balance our omega-3s with our omega-6s.

Phew. Could our dietary requirements get any more complicated? Personally, I believe that if you’re interested in the optimal diet and don’t want to bother with juggling all of the different components, just eat as the Okinawans do.

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