Avocadoes, Chickpeas and Omega-6

Woman Eating AvocadoQ: I read that avocados and chickpeas are Omega 6 -heavy and should be avoided.  Is that true?

A: Actually no, this is not true that they should be avoided, they are both healthy foods to include in your diet.

Avocados are high in monounsaturated fats that do help with heart health, but they do carry a fair amount of total fat and so it is best to eat them in moderation so as not to over consume calories (they add up quick when eating them!).  One quarter of a Hass avocado has about 5g of fat.  They are also a good source of potassium.  They also have B-vitamins, vitamin E & vitamin K.

High avocado intake was shown in one preliminary study to lower blood cholesterol levels. Specifically, after a seven-day diet rich in avocados, mild hypercholesterolemia patients showed a 17% decrease in total serum cholesterol levels. These subjects also showed a 22% decrease in both LDL (harmful cholesterol) and triglyceride levels and 11% increase in HDL (helpful cholesterol) levels.

Due to a combination of specific aliphatic acetogenins, avocado is under preliminary research for potential anti-cancer activity.

Chickpeas are high in protein, fiber, folate and minerals, though they have some polyunsaturated fat, but they are low overall, 1 cup has only 2 g of this type of fatty acid.  You’d be much worse off consuming 2 TBSP vegetable oil than a couple ounces of chickpeas.

Q: What is the optimum ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3′s?  And isn’t CLA an Omega 6?

A: Modern Western diets typically have ratios of n−6 to n−3 in excess of 10 to 1, some as high as 30 to 1. The optimal ratio is thought to be 4 to 1 or lower.

Excess n−6 fats interfere with the health benefits of n−3 fats, in part because they compete for the same rate-limiting enzymes. A high proportion of n−6 to n−3 fat in the diet shifts the physiological state in the tissues toward the pathogenesis of many diseases: prothrombotic, proinflammatory and proconstrictive.

Yes, CLA is an Omega-6, but Conjugated linoleic acid is both a trans fatty acid and a cis fatty acid in food (milk and body fat of cattle & sheep). The cis bond has the observed beneficial health effects. Unlike other trans fatty acids, it may have beneficial effects on human health.

Moderation is the key, and taking a good fish oil is even better!