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Using 3–6 differences in essential fatty acids rather than 3/6 ratios gives useful food balance scores

Bill Lands1* and Etienne Lamoreaux2

Author Affiliations

1 Retired, Fellow of ASN, 6100 Westchester Park Drive, Apt.1219, College Park, MD, 20740, USA

2 Computer Specialist, NIAAA, NIH, 5635 Fishers Lane, Bethesda, MD, 20892-8304, USA

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Nutrition & Metabolism 2012, 9:46  doi:10.1186/1743-7075-9-46

Published: 24 May 2012



The vitamin-like omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids are converted in the body to a large family of hormones which act at selective receptors that occur on nearly every cell and tissue. A relative omega-3 deficit allows overabundant actions of omega-6 hormones to develop into health disorders. People need simple, explicit information on the balance of essential fatty acids in their foods to avoid accumulating unintended imbalances in their tissue omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.


We developed an Omega 3–6 Balance Food Score that summarizes in a single value the balance among eleven omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids in a food. The value allows a quantitative estimate of the impact of each food item on the proportions of omega-3 and omega-6 that will accumulate in the 20- and 22-carbon highly unsaturated fatty acids of blood, which is an important health risk assessment biomarker.


The impact of an individual food item upon a useful health risk assessment biomarker is easily evident in a simple, explicit value for the balance among eleven essential fatty acids nutrients. Foods with more positive Omega 3–6 Balance Food Scores will increase the percent of omega-3 in the biomarker, whereas those with more negative Scores will increase the percent of omega-6 in the biomarker.

Arachidonic cascade; Calories; Cardiovascular; Essential fatty acids; Health risk assessment; Highly unsaturated; Inflammatory; Omega-3; Omega-6; Polyunsaturated