Hold the Almonds and Pass the Arugula: What You Need to Know About Omega Fatty Acids in Oils, Seeds, and Greens!

– by Stacey Terry

omega fatty acid ratios

When many people begin eating on the raw food diet, they inevitably turn to a variety of oils, nuts, and seeds to help increase their calorie intake and add a variety of fats to the fruits, vegetables, and greens they begin eating.  Typically, many raw foodists turn especially to nuts to create a variety of gourmet dishes designed to replace the heavier meats and starches to which they may have been accustomed on the Standard American Diet (SAD).

Sparked by one of our 21-Day Green Smoothie Detox calls, recently, we had an outstanding teleseminar with green smoothie expert, Victoria Boutenko.  In her quest to understand health and pursue her own best path to wellness, she began passionately researching omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

What she discovered was quite shocking, and it could change the way you approach the raw food diet completely!

Victoria Boutenko - co-host of the 21-Day Green Smoothie DetoxIn the call (Click HERE to access the call), Victoria discussed recent exciting research that has come out of Sweden.  As soon as she read it, she felt like she’d finally arrived at an explanation for questions she’d been struggling with concerning the raw food diet.  She’d always felt that something was missing from the raw food diet.

She found that missing answer when she discovered the health differences between consuming omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids. She spent an entire summer surrounded with dictionaries and chemistry books studying the information and even updating her book, Green for Life.

It became apparent to her that omega-3 fatty acids, though quite unstable as a molecule, were essential to positive rejuvenation and healing processes in the body while too many omega-6 fatty acids, more stable as molecules, contributed to negative health conditions including slowed metabolism, inflammation, and obesity.

Now, if we followed a natural diet, we’d likely have a normal balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids; however, the SAD diet (with its focus on grains and heavy fats), has meant that most people eat waaaaaaay too many omega-6 fatty acids and not enough omega-3’s.  Let’s emphasize that the omega-6 fatty acids are not “bad”; they just need to be consumed in a proper ratio.

This research changed the way that Victoria began to look at food. She knew she had to get the information out there so people could begin to rebalance the equation.

It became important to her to know which foods contained the highest ratios of these omega-3 fatty acids.  By selecting foods where the ratios of omega-3 fatty acids were greater (or reasonably less) than the omega-6 fatty fatty acids, she could contribute to the rebalancing process and assist her body’s healing and wellness.

And guess which foods are perfect for contributing to increasing omega-3 fatty acids?

21-Day Green Smoothie DetoxIf you’re participating in the Self-Study or Full-Support 21-Day Green Smoothie Detox, you’ll be happy to hear that many greens come out on top.  Victoria pointed out during the call that green smoothies are an ideal way to increase one’s intake of these beneficial omega-3 fatty acids and thus work towards overcoming a wide variety of health conditions.

Complete with vitalizing minerals, beneficial amino acids, and the healthiest type and balance of fats, greens are our best means of getting the energy we need to heal.

In keeping with her desire to educate the public on the importance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, Victoria agreed to share a comparison of important food ratios that will help you see which common raw foods to select more of if you wish to boost your omega-3 fatty acid intake.

Ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6 Fatty Acids in Oils, Seeds, and Greens

July  2010

by Victoria Boutenko, www.rawfamily.com

*Please note that ratios are relative to each item individually and not across the collection (various sizes are compared across food types). 

Oils: Omega-3 and Omega-6 Comparison

Flaxseed oil: (1 tbsp)
Total Omega-3 fatty acids         7196 mg  (4.2 times) more omega-3s
Total Omega-6 fatty acids          1715 mg

Canola oil: (1 tbsp)
Total Omega-3 fatty acids          1031 mg
Total Omega-6 fatty acids          2532 mg  (2.5 times) more omega-6s

Olive oil: (1 tbsp)
Total Omega-3 fatty acids            103 mg
Total Omega-6 fatty acids          1318 mg  (13 times) more omega-6s

Corn oil: (1 tbsp)
Total Omega-3 fatty acids            157 mg
Total Omega-6 fatty acids          7224 mg  (46 times) more omega-6s

Sunflower oil: (1 tbsp)
Total Omega-3 fatty acids                 5 mg
Total Omega-6 fatty acids          3905 mg  (78 times) more omega-6s

Sesame oil: (1 tbsp)
Total Omega-3 fatty acids               41 mg
Total Omega-6 fatty acids          5576 mg  (1138 times) more omega-6s

Safflower oil: (1 tbsp)
Total Omega-3 fatty acids                 0 mg
Total Omega-6 fatty acids       10 073 mg  (too much! omega-6s)


comparison of omega-3 and omega-6 oils


Seeds: Omega-3 and Omega-6 Comparison

Flax seeds: (1 ounce/28 grams)
Total Omega-3 fatty acids           6388 mg  (3.9 times) more omega 3s
Total Omega-6 fatty acids           1655 mg

Chia seeds: (1 ounce/28 grams)
Total Omega-3 fatty acids           4915 mg  (3 times) more omega 3s
Total Omega-6 fatty acids           1620 mg

Sesame seeds: (1 ounce/28 grams)
Total Omega-3 fatty acids             105 mg
Total Omega-6 fatty acids           5984 mg  (56 times) more omega-6s

Pumpkin seeds: (1 ounce/28 grams)
Total Omega-3 fatty acids               51 mg
Total Omega-6 fatty acids          5797 mg  (114 times) more omega-6s

Sunflower seeds: (1 ounce/28 grams)
Total Omega-3 fatty acids              21 mg
Total Omega-6 fatty acids         6454 mg  (312 times) more omega-6s


comparison of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in seeds

Nuts: Omega-3 and Omega-6 Comparison

Walnuts (1 cup)

Total Omega-3 fatty acids      10623 mg
Total Omega-6 fatty acids      44567 mg  (4.2 times) more omega-6s

Pecans (1 cup)
Total Omega-3 fatty acids          1075 mg
Total Omega-6 fatty acids        22487 mg  (21 times) more omega-6s

Almonds (1 cup)
Total Omega-3 fatty acids              6 mg
Total Omega-6 fatty acids     11462 mg  (2000 times) more omega-6s


Grains: Omega-3 and Omega-6 Comparison

Rye (1 cup)
Total Omega-3 fatty acids          265 mg
Total Omega-6 fatty acids        1619 mg  (6 times) more omega-6s

Quinoa  (1 cup)
Total Omega-3 fatty acids          522 mg
Total Omega-6 fatty acids       5061 mg  (10 times) more omega-6s

Wheat (1 cup)
Total Omega-3 fatty acids            52 mg
Total Omega-6 fatty acids        1152 mg  (22 times) more omega-6s

Oats (1 cup)
Total Omega-3 fatty acids          173 mg
Total Omega-6 fatty acids        3781 mg  (22 times) more omega-6s

comparison of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in grains

Beans & Lentils: Omega-3 and Omega-6 Comparison

Beans, snap, green, raw (1 cup)
Total Omega-3 fatty acids            40 mg  (1.6 times) more omega-3s
Total Omega-6 fatty acids            25 mg

Lentils  (1 cup)
Total Omega-3 fatty acids         209 mg
Total Omega-6 fatty acids        776  mg  (3.7 times) more omega-6s

Green Peas, raw (1 cup)
Total Omega-3 fatty acids           51 mg
Total Omega-6 fatty acids        220 mg  (4.3 times) more omega-6s

Sugar snap peas, raw (1 cup)
Total Omega-3 fatty acids           13 mg
Total Omega-6 fatty acids           74 mg  (5.8 times) more omega-6s

Chickpeas, raw (1 cup)
Total Omega-3 fatty acids        202 mg
Total Omega-6 fatty acids      5186 mg  (26 times) more omega-6s

comparison of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in beans and lentils

Leafy Greens: Omega-3 and Omega-6 Comparison

Spinach, raw (100 g)
Total Omega-3 fatty acids        138 mg  (5.3 times) more omega-3s
Total Omega-6 fatty acids          26 mg

Lettuce, green leaf, raw (100 g)
Total Omega-3 fatty acids          58 mg  (2.4 times) more omega-3s
Total Omega-6 fatty acids          24 mg

Lettuce, cos or romaine, raw (100 g)
Total Omega-3 fatty acids        113 mg  (2.4 times) more omega-3s
Total Omega-6 fatty acids          47 mg

Arugula, raw (100 g)
Total Omega-3 fatty acids        170 mg  (1.3 times) more omega-3s
Total Omega-6 fatty acids        130 mg

Kale, raw (100 g)
Total Omega-3 fatty acids        180 mg  (1.3 times) more omega-3s
Total Omega-6 fatty acids        138 mg

Dandelion greens, raw (100 g)
Total Omega-3 fatty acids         44 mg
Total Omega-6 fatty acids       261 mg  (5.9 times) more omega-6s


Fruits & Vegetables: Omega-3 and Omega-6 Comparison

Apples, raw (100 g)
Total Omega-3 fatty acids           9 mg
Total Omega-6 fatty acids         43 mg  (4.8 times) more omega-6s

Strawberries, raw (100 g)
Total Omega-3 fatty acids         65 mg
Total Omega-6 fatty acids         90 mg  (1.4 times) more omega-6s

Bananas, raw (1 medium size)
Total Omega-3 fatty acids        27 mg
Total Omega-6 fatty acids        46 mg  (1.7 times) more omega-6s

Cucumber, with peel, raw (100 g)
Total Omega-3 fatty acids           5 mg
Total Omega-6 fatty acids       28 mg (5.6 times) more omega-6s

Carrots, raw (100 g)
Total Omega-3 fatty acids        2 mg
Total Omega-6 fatty acids     115 mg  (58 times) more omega-6s


©Copyright by Victoria Boutenko, www.rawfamily.com


Loaded with omega-3 boosting greens, the 21-Day Green Smoothie Detox could be your next best step to enjoy a rawking ratio of healthy fatty acids!


  1. says

    i believe this is fatal information. TOO MANY OMEGA 3’S WILL KILL YOU.



    i ate fish, flax, and spinach, and THINNED MY BLOOD, bleeding.


  2. says

    WHOA! Thanks for all the info! Definitely makes me think my 3/6 ratio is way outta balance as it appear most of the protein rich plant foods that I typically eat (nuts, lintels, quinoa, etc) are mostly 6. And this is considering the fact that I eat TONS of spinach, kale, flax, chia, etc. What is a plant eater (vegan-ish, raw-ish) eater to do?!?!


  3. Leah jacobson says

    Thank you Tera and Victoria B. for putting this vital information out for the public.

    This is yet ANOTHER great reason to indulge in green smoothies!!

    In good health,

    Leah J.


  4. Milli says

    I don’t understand how nuts, food from the earth, can be bad for you. It has to be better than eating, let’s say, a Big Mac? Fries? How many nuts are we allowed to eat so as not to get ill from it?


    Reply by Stacey on April 9th, 2011

    @Milli – Nuts aren’t bad for you in moderation. They definitely have some great qualities. But when you think about the amount of nuts that go into many raw food recipes, that’s A LOT. Have you ever seen a nut “in nature”. Personally, the only ones I’ve seen where I live are hazel nuts. I remember finding them in the bushes where my parents had a cabin by the lake.

    First, I had to peel the green off them, then I had to take them inside and crack them open to reveal the itty bitty nut. It would have taken me DAYS to find, peel, and crack open enough of these to make one typical gourmet recipe.

    It’s fabulous living in a world where food is easily available and at our fingertips, but it distances us from reality. We’d never have the ambition to eat that many nuts in nature… This information is a helpful reminder that some food is best in moderation, the way we’d likely eat it if we were to access it “naturally”.

    And yes… this is allllllll relative. Keep in mind that Victoria has been on the raw food path for YEARS. This is a reflection of her journey. If you’re just starting out, you can celebrate each and every time you pass over that Big Mac for something raw and feel great about it.


  5. says

    I would love a chart that gives the ” perfect ” diet with the right omega threes in it.Right now I am pretty confused.


    Reply by admin on April 9th, 2011

    @Francesca – Sometimes our need to be perfect, while noble, isn’t always a helpful desire. Not many people can live up to perfection and it soon becomes just another stick we beat ourselves up with. THAT, and I really believe that nature intended us to be individuals. What’s perfect for my body (with my personal history, habits, geography, access to foods, environmental toxins, fitness habits, etc., etc., etc.,) is going to mean that my “perfect” diet will be different from yours.

    What I love about this information is that it reinforces the idea of adding more greens. That’s what *I* want to keep moving towards. It’s always best to use new information as a guide to help YOU discover the new best choices for yourself.


  6. Jennifer says

    They aren’t bad for you it is the ratios we are looking at specifically of the omeg fats. This is exactly what I’ve been needing and will be listening to this call. I’ve been lacking in my omeg fats and have been struggling to get them balanced and found my wieght gaining as I have been trying to figure it out on my own. Obiously my ratios have been a bit off. I started focusing on green smoothies latley and I’m glad to know I am heading in the right direction.


    Reply by admin on April 9th, 2011

    @Jennifer – AGREED!! Omega-6 fatty acids are certainly not bad. This chart paints a picture of just *one* element in the variables that make up these foods. There are also amino acids, vitamins, and minerals to consider. Dandelion greens may not come out on top when you look at them through the lens of “omega fatty acids”, but in terms of their other abilities to help with detoxification they’re magnificent. The great thing about Victoria’s research is that you can click the links for each food and see all the OTHER nutritional factors and benefits they may offer.

    The answer always comes back to ensuring we eat a variety of healthy foods. What I hope this article points to is the idea that becoming a raw foodist and suddenly eating an abundance of gourmet nut butters, nut-based desserts, and “meat” dishes may be “raw”, but it may not be serving our intention to heal and reduce inflammation.


  7. says

    I’m so glad that you’re putting this out there, and so glad that Victoria is doing this work too. Back seven or eight years ago, when I was first into raw foods, there were a few discussions on the rawfoodsupport.com forums about precisely this issue. Initially, it was a big influence on my choice to avoid fat and eat just fruit, and even in my higher fat days, it’s always steered me away from eating large amounts of nuts and seeds. I’m so grateful for coconut–it’s wonderful.

    Thanks so much for sharing those charts: surprising how many omegas are in things like carrots and peas!



  8. says

    It seems for those who are not totally raw and eat steamed peas and quinoa for protein along with lentils for fiber, etc. etc., should not have to worry if we are getting too much omega 6’s. I am wondering if we could be going too far in a direction that we would again learn that we are off balanced. I know nutrition is a fledging science and forever changing and with this complete turn-around has me puzzled. Although I understand too much Omega 6’s is not good for us and we should eat our Omega 3’s it also seems that we should focus more on eating a balanced diet. I am currently studying nutrition and this has me looking at balance as more important.


  9. debra says

    I am new to the raw food way of life, but it has made a remarkable difference in how my body “works” in just a few months. I agree, that you have to try to incorporate the information into your life, without making yourself crazy – it can be overwhelming at first. Every good “green” choice is a step in the right direction!

    I would be interested to know how cashew nuts and sacha inchi oil fit in, as these are some of the readily available sources of fats where I live.


    Reply by Stacey on April 9th, 2011

    @Debra (and for anyone interested in particular foods) – it should be easy to figure out (as long as it’s a food there’s a statistic for). If you follow any of the food links in the chart back to the nutrition data website, you can look up the food you’re interested in. Just type it into the search window and select the best match. You’ll find the omega-3 and omega-6 amounts in a column towards the bottom on the left-hand side of your screen.


  10. says

    How does the hemp seed and the mila seed rank?


    Reply by Stacey on April 9th, 2011

    @Mike – The website Victoria used doesn’t appear to have the data on those two seeds yet unfortunately. Would need to find a reliable source to compare the nutritional data…

    I don’t have a pkg of mila, but my pkg of Manitoba Harvest hemp seeds claims that 30 g has 6.2 g of omega-6 and 2 g o omega-3 giving it a 3.1 ratio on the omega-6 side of things. Not a booster, but still a very reasonable choice.


  11. says

    I’m beyond impressed with your detox program. These resources supplied in daily emails, links to fun videos and informational telecourses are phenomenal! Go Go Go Green Smoothie Queens…I have a feeling the Queen has multiple personalities! :)


  12. says

    Superbly informational! Thanks for summarizing the teleconference and supplying the chart because I couldn’t take notes as quickly as the conversation. I love The Green Smoothie Queen. Go Go Go Green Smoothie Queens…I have a feeling the Queen has multiple personalities! :)


    Reply by Stacey on April 9th, 2011

    @Dana – Thank you! hehe… yes… we’re a collective of happy royal green guzzler!!! 😉


  13. JANE SKRESLET says

    Very surprising information that I will certainly take into consideration for my diet, and I too will listen to the call. Thanks!


  14. Merilyn Parker Armitage says

    Thanks so much for this. I have been so taken by the Green Smoothie Queen diet and what I am learning that I am now doing a nutritional healing course in Bristol (UK) and loving it. This information will be really helpful for my course – you will help me pass my exams!!


  15. says

    Awesome info!! This is my area of focus…balanced fats especially the essential fatty acids are so valuable. What I would love to add is two things: 1) always consider the raw material (and the values above for proper balance is excellent) plus what happens to the raw material before you consume it. Anything processed or cooked will change it. 2) long chain essential fats are needed in the body – how are you converting?
    Best of health, Cheryl Millett, Auum Wellness Practitioner


  16. Cyndi says

    Thank you for the details!

    As someone who pays attention to every ingredient in the food I buy I am always aware of how much Omega-6 oils are in the American diet and avoiding them like crazy. They cause inflammation and as a cancer survivor, that’s the last thing I need….inflammation.

    Omega-6 foods are abundant and cheap and are used 99% of the time in our foods so knowing the ratios is VERY important as it not only tells us how much Omega-6 we are getting, but how much Omega-3 we are not.


  17. says

    The key for me, in this post, was yet again validating that a healthy plant-rich diet is the key to both maintaining and recovering good health.

    Like so many other aspects of nutrition, it is difficult to know what the right ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6 is. Different research suggests a wide range – everything from 4:1 to 1:1 – for maximum health benefit. What’s clear is that we can all stand to reduce the 6s and increase the 3s.

    I haven’t listened to the call, and so am wondering if the conversion of ALA (short-chain) to EPA and DHA (long-chain, and what we ultimately need) was discussed? There seems to be general scientific agreement that ALA doesn’t convert well to DHA and that we should focus on DHA rich foods like fatty fish when we consider our Omega 3 sources. Any thoughts?


    Reply by Stacey on April 13th, 2011

    @Rachel – hmm… it’s been a week since the call now and I can’t remember if Victoria touched on this exactly. At one point, I know we did discuss the pros and cons of consuming fatty fish on the call.


  18. says

    @Stacey – thanks for responding. As someone who has been a strict vegetarian for a long time, I’m looking at the necessity of adding some fatty fish back into my diet for my health. Of course, I’m concerned about sustainability, mercury, and other toxicity too. Was hoping to find some more info to help me make up my mind on it all.


  19. Sara says

    I think it’s definitely good to be aware of these ratios, but I think you have to take it all with a grain of salt. Don’t make yourself crazy if you end up eating some carrots. We all have to keep in mind that there is a lot of nutrition information that gets put out, but a lot of it becomes overturned. It’s definitely an interesting concept but I’ll wait a little bit before I’m converted.


    Reply by Stacey on April 18th, 2011

    @Sara – REALLY appreciate this perspective. When I was formatting the chart and saw that carrots were on it, I worried someone would think carrots (or even omega-6’s in general) are *bad* for you. They definitely aren’t. I look at this information from Victoria as a reminder that we should strive for variety and balance and think about what makes the most sense according to nature.


  20. Rene' says

    This was interesting. I had always been taught that almonds were a good source of healthy fats. Does this mean they are not?


    Reply by Stacey on April 18th, 2011

    @Rene – They are still a healthier choice of fat compared to many other conventional fats on the SAD diet; however, it’s the *amount* of almonds you eat that’s the issue. Many raw food recipes use more than one cup of shelled almonds. If you had to find and then shell several cups of almonds from nature, the natural way, you’d never get around to making the recipe. Nature usually knows the perfect balance for us and the foods that are the best for us are the easiest ones for us to reach and get access to.


  21. says

    Thank you so much Tera and Victoria for clarifying this important information! I’m a very active ’50-something’ that enjoys a lot of swimming, running and biking. I’m always looking for the best way to ‘fuel my machine’ so I can keep on swimming, running, biking for the next 50!(Not to mention cross-country skiing every winter!) I love my Green Smoothies and am glad I don’t need the grains and nuts as much as I thought I did! Thanks so much! Happy Spring!


  22. vanetta says

    This was very interesting article on Omega 3 and omega 6’s. I just started a raw food diet 2 months ago after being diagnosed with osetoarthritis that has deteriorated my cartilage in my hip joint. If felt like I needed to get more nutrition and have been doing smoothies for my family for the past year, but I needed to do more. And yes, I have succumbed to nuts and seeds to feel more satisfied and full. I hope that I can do the May detox and can fit this into my schedule and thought it would be beneficial before surgery.


  23. Judith says

    What I don’t understand is you make a statement about “hold the almonds pass the arugula” but you don’t explain why.

    I Believe that Victoria is doing a great job with the greens she needs to give more meaning to especially to this article?????

    I started out looking for green smoothie with rosemary and you show a picutre of one and no recipe.!!!!!


    Reply by Rachelle Fordyce on June 6th, 2011

    Hi Judith,

    If you read all the info in the article, then you’ll find the answer to your question is there in the statistics!

    The article discusses omega 6’s and 3’s, and the ratio of these fatty acids found in different foods. The ratio of omega 6’s to omega 3’s in arugula is much much more balanced, especially when compared to the grossly disproportional ratio of these fatty acids found in almond.

    This is why the title of the article makes the statement to “hold the almonds”. Choosing arugula as a balanced source of omega 6’s and 3’s might encourage you ask someone to pass you the arugula if you happened to be seated at a table with family for a raw lovely dinner. 😀

    As for your quest for a rosemary green smoothie recipe, I see from a different comment that you succeeded in your quest and found one here: http://www.greensmoothiequeen.com/blog/2011/05/remarkable-rosemary-the-benefits-of-herbs-extracts-and-teas/

    Enjoy! :)



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