Omega-6 is saturated fat’s evil brother. Together they are the Lyle and Eric Menendez of fats, causing death and destruction through inflammation, clogged arteries, and heart disease. Like saturated fat, we need some omega-6, but most Americans already get far too much of it. Where is all this omega-6 coming from? Before World War II, cattle were grass-fed in pastures, but today most cattle are fed industrial corn or grain. The starch in the corn and grain converts to fat, which in corn-fed cattle is mostly saturated and omega-6 fats. Starch produces the white marbled, high-sat-fat meat that.
Americans love, and that can give you twice your daily allotment of saturated fats in a single serving. Corn-fed beef—even beef “finished on grain”—is higher in saturated fat and omega-6s and lower in protein and omega-3s than grass-fed beef. You only need about two or three times the omega-6 than you do omega-3. Remember this ratio by the fact that six is twice of three. You may need even less: hunter-gatherers had a ratio of one to one.
But many Americans get closer to thirty times as much omega-6. Scientists believe that very high levels of omega-6s can lead to fatal health problems like those caused by too many saturated fats. Like so many other changes in our diet over the past hundred or so years, we are getting much less omega-3 than we should.
Omega-3 can reduce inflammation; omega-6s increase it. Like corn-fed cattle, farmed salmon is much higher in saturated fats than wild salmon, and like cattle, farmed salmon are fed industrial corn that promotes omega-6s and reduces other nutrients. A study published in January 2004 in Science found that in most cases consuming more than one serving of farmed salmon per month could elevate your risk of cancer because it contains so much omega-6.
My ChefMD prescription? Go for the best nutrition and the best flavor.
When you choose beef or salmon, eat only grass-fed beef, bison, and wild salmon. (All Alaskan salmon, by the way, is wild salmon.)