Last week, I wrote an article about the incredible health benefits of rice bran oil. One of my readers took exception. David E. wrote: "What about the high omega-6 fatty acid content in rice bran oil? This is not mentioned in the article on it. This fact alone trumps any health benefits that may be derived by using it in any supplement regime. I would not use it."
David, I understand your concern. But you're missing out on the fantastic health benefits of rice bran oil for the wrong reasons. I'm sure your concern comes from the distorted omega-6 to omega-3 ratio most Americans have. Researchers suggest that most Americans have a 20:1 or 25:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 in their bodies. Many experts suggest the ratio should be 4:1, but others say 2:1 or as high as 11:1. It's very confusing. Regardless, we obviously get too much omega-6 in our diets.
However, much of this omega-6 comes from oils that haven't been around very long – and really aren't very healthy.
Omega-6 and omega-3 oils are essential oils, meaning our body doesn't produce them. We have to get them from our diet. And the source of these oils is very important. Some sources, such as safflower oil (kardi oil), sunflower oil, soybean oil, corn oil and cottonseed oil, contain high amounts of poly-unsaturated fatty acids (PUFA), which are dangerous in excess, and very low amounts of mono-unsaturated fatty acids (MUFA), which are good for you. Many have lower nutritional values as well.
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Rice bran oil, on the other hand, is just the opposite. It contains low levels of PUFA and high levels of MUFA. It also contains oryzanol and tocotrienols, which are antioxidants. So the overall nutritional content of rice bran oil is much better than many oils.
Yes, you need to reduce your intake of omega-6 fatty acids that come from safflower oil, sunflower oil, soybean oil, corn oil and cottonseed oil. Most of us consume way too much of these because they are cheap and stable. But we still need omega-6 fatty acids. I wouldn't worry too much about your ratio. Focus instead on getting your omega-6s from sources that are healthy and nutritious, such as rice bran oil, flaxseed oil, evening primrose oil, and black currant oil.
The easiest way to determine whether omega-6 is healthy or not is by looking at the type of acid in it. Most cooking oils have high amounts of linoleic acid. This is the less desirable fatty acid. The more desirable form of omega-6 is gamma linolenic acid (GLA). The other omega-6 acid is arachidonic acid, which you'll find in meat (including fish), eggs, and dairy products. This is a more controversial acid, but I think it's quite good for you. Studies show it's great for your brain.
So don't shy away from rice bran oil just because it's an omega-6 fatty acid. Instead, use it rather than the other less nutritious forms. Complete Daily Oils is specifically formulated to give you the best dosage of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. To me, this is one of the best oil formulations on the market. Yes, I'm biased. But the research supports it.
Your insider for better health,
Steve Kroening is the editor of Nutrient Insider, a twice-a-week email newsletter that brings you the latest healing breakthroughs from the world of nutrition and dietary supplements. For over 20 years, Steve has worked hand-in-hand with some of the nation's top doctors, including Drs. Robert Rowen, Frank Shallenberger, Nan Fuchs, William Campbell Douglass, and best-selling author James Balch. Steve is the author of the book Practical Guide to Home Remedies. As a health journalist, Steve's articles have appeared in countless magazines, blogs, and websites.