Importance of the Ratio of Fats in Diet

Apr 30, 2018

Changing Fat Ratio and Its Effect on Body Composition

If you are trying to decide whether to add ground flaxseed, flaxseed oil, or other flaxseed supplements to your diet, consider what happens to cattle in the beef industry.  These animals represent a prime example of how changing ratios of fat intake can change the composition of the body, and this example also favours reducing your intake of omega-6 fatty acids, and increasing dietary omega-3 fatty acids. 

Cattle are grown and raised on farms and ranches for the majority of their lives, consuming a diet consisting mostly of fresh or dried grasses. In North America, the final stage of converting cattle into beef involves shipping those animals to feedlots where they spend about six to eight weeks fattening up by consuming grain—in Canada, this is typically barley, whilst in the US, it is usually corn. Both of these grains contain high levels of LA.  Essentially cattle feed is changed from omega-3 rich grasses to omega-6 rich grains.  The result is that the production of beautiful fat-marbled beef that is also overburdened with omega-6 LA.  Comparatively, if these animals were human and underwent these dietary changes, they would be considered in a poor state of health, probably showing signs of heart failure and other diseases that coincide with obesity in humans.  Interestingly, grass fed beef fat profiles, particularly in Angus Beef, are very similar to wild salmon, high in omega-3 fatty acids and low in omega-6 fatty acids (Daly 2010; Blanchet 2005). 

When we consume diets high in omega-6 fatty acids, we too, are creating a beautifully marbled, fattened product…though not for human consumption.  Most of us consume an LA rich diet for our whole lives, not just during our last few weeks.  Making positive changes to this diet can begin with adding reliable, high quality sources of omega-3 ALA to that mix on a regular basis.