Fatty Acids and WolframAlpha – Omega6 and Omega3 in Foods

by Paleo Rob on 10/08/2010

This is the first of a series of many posts I will write about using WolframAlpha to help you live a paleo lifestyle. I really think its poetic that we can use what is the most technological advanced computation engine to help us life like our ancestors…

Omega-6

One of the many issues we try to correct by eating a paleolithic diet is our Omega-6/Omega-3 balance. The reason for this is that our current diet is filled with Omega-6 due to our consumption of nut and seed oils as well the abundance of grain fed meats . This has skewed the ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 in our diet from the optimal 2:1 ratio to something along the lines of 50:1!

Side Note: For a much more scientific, well written explanation on how to oils,fats, Omega-3 and Omega-6 check out Dr Kurt Harris post on Fats and Oils.

We combat this by increasing our intake of Omega-3 rich foods such as fish, grass fed meats or supplementing with fish-oil and lowering our intake of Omega-6 by using good quality oils/fats to cook with (coconut oil).Problem is with the latter, its difficult to find omega-6 numbers of foods etc.

Side Note: Initially it is recommended to get on some high dose of Omega-3, especially if you are overweight and unhealthy. I used the Whole9 Robb Wolf Fish Oil Calculator.

That’s where our good old friend WolframAlpha comes along.

Wolfram|Alpha computational knowledge engine

WolframAlpha; the data gold mine!

WolframAlpha is a type of search engine, similar to Google. Where its different, is that it doesn’t search web pages for the answers, but rather large databases of data. We can use this data, to help us make healthier choices for our diet!

How? Well lets test it out, go to http://www.WolframAlpha.com and type in “Highest Foods by Total Omega 6

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As you can see at the top of the list are all the nut and seed oils. Take them out of your house. This should awaken you to the power of this tool, but that’s not all, keep reading.

Well that list is great and all, but how about finding total Omega-6 in a certain food?

Well lets look at that evil Grapeseed oil, we simply type “1 Tbsp Grapeseed Oil Total Omega-6” and bingo.

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Not only do we get our answer (9.1g per Tablespoon!) but we also got a plethora of other nutritional info.

 

Ok that’s great you say, but what about a full meal. How do I calculate the Omega-6 in say, my rib-eye steak with broccoli and avocado?

Well its ridiculously easy, simply type “250g Rib Eye + 100g Broccoli + 120g Avocado Total Omega-6”

wolframalpha-20100803083608399

There you have it, total Omega-6. But wait scroll down, what’s all that? Is that the complete nutritional data for the entire meal? You bet it is!

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Note: I am not sure where the data comes from on WolframAlpha. It does NOT take into account grass-fed meet, but rather what I believe is an average. I checked a few different meets, and found the general ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 is approximately 5:1. In reality, it probably is a lot higher, closer to 10:1. Take this into account when doing calculations!

Finding the perfect Omega-6 to Omega-3 Ratio

So for an average week, calculate your daily Omega-6 intake.

Add an extra 15% just in case.

Then make sure you eat the equivalent amount of Omega-3 to achieve a 2:1 ratio. So if you eat roughly 10g of Omega-6 per day, make sure you have at least 5g Omega-3 per day.

Found any other cool search queries for WolframAlpha? Lets see in the comments!

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