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Margarine and vegetable oil negate benefits of Omega-3 from fish oil

Fish oil supplements containing Omega-3 fatty acids EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) have an anti-inflammatory effect and may benefit people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and ADD. This beneficial effect of Omega-3 fatty acids is significantly reduced when the diet is high in Omega-6 linoleic acid.

A seven week controlled experiment involving 30 male volunteers was recently completed in Australia. The participants were given 1.6 gram EPA and 0.32 gram DHA daily. Half the volunteers were kept on a diet high in linoleic acid (LA) by using margarine as a spread and polyunsaturated vegetables oils for cooking. The other half used butter and olive oil which are low in linoleic acid. The experiment clearly showed that the incorporation of fish oil is enhanced by a diet containing butter and fish oil. Margarine and polyunsaturated vegetable oils had an inhibiting effect and should therefore be excluded from the diet in order to obtain maximum benefit from fish oil.

Note: vegetable oil is commonly used in french fries, tortilla chips, potato chips, stir fry, Americanized Chinese and Mexican cooking, popcorn, croutons, salad dressing, cookies, bread, cake, crackers, mayonnaise, processed cheese, frozen prepared food, and fried foods.

The historical ratio of Omega 3:Omega 6 in the human diet is 1:1. Deviation from this balance has been implicated in many disease conditions including cardiovascular, immune, and Alzheimer's disease.

The following table lists the amount of Omega-6 fatty acids in common foods. For each gram of Omega-6 oils you consume, it is recommended that you balance your intake with 1 gm of Omega-3 fish oil. This 1:1 balance can be achieved with a combination of the reduction of Omega-6 intake and an increase of Omega-3 intake.

McDonald's medium French Fries 9 gm

Newman's Own Caesar Salad Dressing 2 oz 3.5 gm

Ore Ida Crispers 20 fries 12 gm

Tortilla Chips 2 oz 16 gm

Roasted Cashew nuts 1 oz 3 gm

Tuna in (vegetable) oil 1 can (5 oz) 2.5 gm


Cleland, Leslie G., et al. Linoleate inhibits EPA incorporation from dietary fish-oil supplements in human subjects. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 55, February 1992, pp. 395-99

Key concepts: Omega-3 fish oil, EPA, DHA, Omega-6 Linolic acid, margarine, vegetable oil