Column #453        May 3, 2024Heart Health and Omega-3

William E.M. Lands (born July 22, 1930) is credited with discovering the importance of balancing the Omega-6 and Omega-3 essential fatty acids (EFAs) forty years ago. Artemis P. Simopoulos, an American physician and endocrinologist, quickly followed up on Land’s initial work. Since 1990 she has authored scores of research papers on diet and nutrition and the importance of balancing the Omega-6 and Omega-3 EFAs.1 2 3

Since those early days and, based on Land’s and Simopoulos’ work, many other scientists have written studies on the importance (or lack of it) of the one-to-one balance of the Omega-6 and Omega-3 EFAs in the membranes of our cells. Unfortunately, by and large the medical community is still waiting for “proof.” Ask any heart doctor and they’ll say there’s no scientific literature saying that Omega-3 protects against blood clotting, stroke, and cardiovascular disease (CVD). What many of them (medical doctors and even some scientists) don’t understand is that an Omega-3 supplement by itself is not the answer. The answer is in attaining the 1:1 balance between Omega-6 and Omega-3.

Interestingly, 25 years ago Artemis P. Simopoulos wrote “Role of Poultry Products in Enriching the Human Diet with n-3 PUFA.” (PUFA = polyunsaturated fatty acids.) She was fascinated about the prospects of eggs with properly balanced EFAs. At the time, producing a properly balanced EFA Omega-3 chicken meat bird was just a pipedream. Yet for a time, about 20 years ago, several commercial egg producers did offer eggs that balanced Omega-6 and Omega-3 on a 1:1 basis. But the public ignored them because they had no idea why the 1:1 Omega-3 eggs were healthier than other Omega-3 eggs that had higher ratios. So, the 1:1 eggs disappeared from the market.4

Then about ten years ago I decided to raise and market an actual Omega-3 chicken. As it turns out it was like trying to market internet access in 1980 when nobody knew anything about the internet. Sales were a crawl. Amazingly, the same it true today because Slanker Grass-Fed Meat (SGFM) is still the only source of Omega-3 chicken on Earth. Yes, some meat marketers claim the label, but their EFA ratios are 8:1 and higher. None of them even approach the 1.4:1 numbers of SGFM’s Omega-3 Chicken.5

Now that doctors still seem to think that people are prone to develop blood clots and Omega-3 doesn’t move the needle, it’s interesting to note that scientists are still showing us that it’s the low PUFA ratio balance we need, not just some Omega-3. In 2023 Yuchen Zhang, et al. published “Higher Ratio of Plasma Omega-6/Omega-3 Fatty Acids Is Associated with Greater Risk of All-Cause, Cancer, and Cardiovascular Mortality.” Flat out his team shows that the higher the ratio, the greater risk of death.6

The American Heart Association provides a concise and simple explanation of CVD titled “What is Cardiovascular Disease?” They state that it refers to a number of conditions. Mostly it’s Atherosclerosis which is a condition that develops when plaque builds up in the walls of the arteries. Plaque restricts blood flow and, if a blood clot forms, it can actually stop the flow of blood causing a heart attack or stroke.7

A heart attack occurs when the blood flow to the heart is blocked by a clot which can cause part of the heart muscle to die. A stroke occurs when a blood vessel to the brain gets blocked, usually from a clot, causing part of the brain to shut down.

There are additional heart diseases some of which are more hereditary than diet related. They include Congestive Heart Failure (CHF), leaking valves not moving enough blood, and Arrhythmia, irregular heart beats.

What’s important about the EFA balance is that as the ratio increases, the risk of clots must also be increasing. In fact, as Yuchen Zhang, et al. show in their study, the risks of CHF are still relatively high when ratios are down to 6:1. They didn’t have any examples of what happens at ratios of 1:2 or lower because, by and large, the people in their study had an average ratio of 10:1 with some higher than 25:1. Virtually no one had a ratio of 2:1 or less. The report states that:

“Zhang et al. show that people with higher ratios of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids in their blood are at greater risk of dying from cancer, heart disease, or any cause than those with lower ratios. The experiments measured omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acid levels in more than 85,000 participants in the UK Biobank who scientists followed for an average of about 13 years. Participants with the highest ratios of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids were 26% more likely to die of any cause, 14% more likely to die of cancer, and 31% more likely to die of heart disease than individuals with the lowest ratios. Individually, high levels of omega-6 fatty acids and high levels of omega-3 fatty acids were both associated with a lower risk of dying. But the protective effects of omega-3 were greater.”

In the conclusion the Zhang et al. report has this important statement: “Our findings support the active management of a high circulating level of omega-3 fatty acids and a low omega-6/omega-3 ratio to prevent premature death.”

This is why SGFM goes the extra mile with producing Omega-3 chicken and even Omega-3 pork. Its chicken and pork compliments the grass-fed meats in that grass-fed meats generally have ratios that range from 0.9:1 to 1.2:1. The reason grass-fed meats are naturally Omega-3 meats is that their EFAs come from the green leafy plant. Green leafy plants include grass, leaves, algae, zooplankton, and similar plant-based foods. It’s also why wild-caught seafood is a tremendous source of low-ratio EFAs. Keep in mind that animals could not live on land until after the green plants had taken hold.

Many people wonder if they should take a fish oil supplement. If you eat nothing but grass-fed and omega-3 meats, then you don’t. But if you ever eat out at a restaurant or a friend’s house, or grab a handful of nuts, have eggs for breakfast, rice as a side, or eat a dessert—in likelihood these food sources or foods will provide a lot of Omega-6 and very little Omega-3. Consequently, most Americans must take an Omega-3 supplement if they want to maintain a low EFA ratio.8

If you are curious about your EFA balance and risk of mortality, you can get an Omega-3 test for only $99.00 by going to Put “Slanker” in the “Offer Code” box and the test then costs $99.

To your health.

Ted Slanker

Ted Slanker has been reporting on the fundamentals of nutritional research in publications, television and radio appearances, and at conferences since 1999. He condenses complex studies into the basics required for health and well-being. His eBook, The Real Diet of Man, is available online.

For additional reading:

1. William E.M. Lands from Wikipedia

2. Balancing Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Acids Is Essential for Health by Bill Lands

3. Artemis P. Simopoulos from Mediterranean Diet Roundtable

4. Role of Poultry Products in Enriching the Human Diet with n-3 PUFA by Artemis P. Simopoulos

5. Omega-3 Chicken Information from Slanker Grass-Fed Meat

6. Higher Ratio of Plasma Omega-6/Omega-3 Fatty Acids Is Associated with Greater Risk of All-Cause, Cancer, and Cardiovascular Mortality: A population-based cohort study in UK Biobank by Yuchen Zhang, et al.

7. What is Cardiovascular Disease? by the American Heart Association

8. Food Analysis Tables: Know the Chemistry of Your Food To Improve Immunity by Ted Slanker