Flaxseed - The Importance of Omega-3 Fatty Acids for Adults and Infants
Flax Council of Canada
Studies of Paleolithic nutrition and modern hunter- gatherer populations suggest that humans evolved on a diet different from today’s typical North American diet. The diet of hunter-gatherers was lower in total and saturated fat and contained small but roughly equal amounts of omega-6 (n-6) and omega-3 (n-3) long-chain fatty acids (LCFAs), giving an n-6/n-3 ratio of about 1:1.1, 2 Paleolithic humans ate diets containing appreciable amounts of omega-3 fatty acids provided by plants and the fat of wild game. Technological developments over the last 100 years have contributed to a shift in fat consumption patterns. Specifically, the intakes of trans fatty acids, found mainly in products made with hydrogenated vegetable oils, and omega-6 fatty acids, found in vegetable oils and animal products derived from grain-fed livestock, have increased over the past century.3 Compared with the Paleolithic diet, the modern North American diet is high in total and saturated fat, omega-6 fatty acids and trans fatty acids, and low in omega-3 fatty acids. This imbalance has led some nutrition experts to recommend increasing omega-3 fatty acid intake. Omega-3 fatty acids are now known to be essential for infant growth and development and to protect against heart disease, thrombosis, hypertension and inflammatory and autoimmune disorders.