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  • Writer's pictureValerie Smith, APRN

Balancing Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Acids: A Key to Managing Inflammation



Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are essential fats that play crucial roles in the body's inflammatory response and overall health. While both types of fatty acids are necessary for proper functioning, maintaining a balance between them is particularly important for individuals with rheumatic diseases.


 In this article, we'll explore the significance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in managing inflammation and provide practical tips for achieving a healthy balance.


Understanding Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Acids:

Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines, as well as in walnuts, flaxseeds, and chia seeds, have anti-inflammatory properties. They help reduce inflammation in the body and may alleviate symptoms of rheumatic diseases such as Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) and Lupus.


On the other hand, omega-6 fatty acids, found in vegetable oils like soybean oil, corn oil, and sunflower oil, as well as in processed foods and meats from animals fed with grain-based diets, can promote inflammation when consumed in excess. While omega-6 fatty acids are necessary for immune function and cell growth, an imbalance between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids can contribute to chronic inflammation and exacerbate symptoms of rheumatic diseases.


To maintain a healthy balance between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, it's essential to focus on incorporating more omega-3-rich foods into your diet while reducing consumption of omega-6-rich foods. 


Here are some practical tips for achieving this balance:


TIP #1: Increase consumption of fatty fish

Aim to include fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines in your diet at least twice a week to boost your intake of omega-3 fatty acids.


TIP #2: Add plant-based sources of omega-3s

Incorporate walnuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds, and hemp seeds into your meals and snacks to increase your omega-3 intake.


TIP #3: Choose healthy cooking oils

Opt for olive oil, avocado oil, and coconut oil for cooking and salad dressings, as these oils are lower in omega-6 fatty acids and higher in monounsaturated fats.


TIP #4: Limit processed foods

Minimize consumption of processed foods, fried foods, and foods made with vegetable oils high in omega-6 fatty acids to reduce inflammation and promote overall health.

Consider omega-3 supplements: If you're unable to get enough omega-3s from dietary sources alone, consider taking fish oil supplements or algae-based omega-3 supplements to support your inflammatory response.


Maintaining a balance between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids is essential for managing inflammation and promoting overall health, especially for individuals with rheumatic diseases. By incorporating more omega-3-rich foods into your diet and reducing consumption of omega-6-rich foods, you can support your body's natural inflammatory response and it may improve symptoms of your rheumatic disease.


If you have rheumatic disease and would like personalized guidance on how to optimize your diet for managing inflammation, don't hesitate to reach out to Paducah Rheumatology. Our team of experienced healthcare professionals can provide expert advice and support tailored to your specific needs.

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