Raw almonds are my go-to snack, and a serious staple of my diet. But I learned recently that in terms of nuts, almonds have one of the least beneficial balances of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids. Omega-6 acids aren’t bad—in fact, our body needs them for certain things—but it’s important to balance them with omega-3s. Right now, for a host of reasons, Americans typically consume way more omega-6s.
We ran an excerpt from the new diet/cookbook Raw and Beyond yesterday, in which author and raw guru Victoria Boutenko explains more about why this balance of omegas is important (and how it led her to change her raw diet philosophy). In the book, Boutenko notes that almonds have 2,011 times more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3s. Oof.
“You’ll always find more omega-6s than 3s in plant foods because the natural ratio is about 2:1,” says dietitian and author Susan Greeley. But there can be significant differences in their fatty acid ratios.
“We should be eating nuts,” insists Greeley. “I’m a fan of almonds in particular, as they have more vitamin E and magnesium and protein than others. Americans are lacking good fats and fiber in general. I’d much rather see Americans eat 1-2 ounces of nuts per day than the same amount of processed cheese, for example.”
In other words: I don’t have to give up my raw almond habit anytime soon (which is good: my one-food-for-life on a desert island choice would be a close call between pepperoni pizza and raw almonds). But knowing which nuts, oils and seeds contain the best ratio of omegas has made me mix things up a bit more—less almonds and more walnuts; less olive oil and more walnut oil or flaxseed. It’s the ratio that’s important (so boosting omega-3 intake or reducing omega-6 intake both help). Click through for some of the bad, better and best nuts, oils and green.