Camelina and human health - it's all about balance
For 90 years the importance of polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) consumption for human health has been repeatedly researched and confirmed.
Since the discovery of Omega-3 PUFAs in 1929 by George and Mildred Burr research on Omega-3 PUFAs has established their role in reducing cardiovascular risk and inflammation-related diseases. Research also is focused on the role of Omega-3s in ameliorating respiratory disease, the neuropsychiatric pathologies of depression and anxiety, cognitive decline and neurodegenerative diseases.
The majority of scientific research focuses on three types of Omega-3s (n-3s): alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
Omega-3s play important roles in the body as components of the phospholipids that form the structures of cell membranes. Sources of Omega-3 fatty acids include fish and other types of seafood, nuts and seeds, plant oils and certain fortified foods.
Camelina oil is a rich source of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) – an important Omega-3 fatty acid.
Researchers are finding that it's all about the n-6:n-3 ratio.
It seems that over the course of human evolution there has been a dramatic change in the ratio of Omega-6 (n-6) and Omega-3 (n-3) fats consumed in the human diet.
According to the authors of a 2016 study in the International Journal of Biological Chemistry, this change, perhaps more than any other dietary factor, has contributed to the epidemic of modern disease.
Our human ancestors consumed Omega-6 and Omega-3 fats in a ratio of roughly 1:1. It is suggested this is the reason both ancient and modern hunter-gatherers were free of the modern inflammatory diseases such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes - the primary causes of death and morbidity today.
Researchers at the University of Manitoba noted similarly that the human diet "has evolved over the past 10,000 years" and that this "has lead to considerable changes in dietary fatty acid composition, predominately Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFA).
"The diets of our Paleolithic ancestors consisted of wild plant and animal foods abundant in alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). With the domestication of animals and plants during the Agricultural Revolution, shifts in the macro and micro-nutrient composition of formerly wild foods initiated the elimination of n-3 PUFA from the diet. Over the past 100 years the Industrial Revolution resulted in a manufactured diet that the human genome was not adapted to, abundant in refined grains, as well as fats and oils rich in n-6 PUFA while deficient in n-3 PUFA. The current fatty acid imbalance of Western diets hinders the conversion of ALA to n-3 long-chain (LC)PUFA, an already inefficient pathway utilizing non-evolved enzymatic machinery."
A team of Chinese-Pakistani researchers published a study in BioMed Research International identifying the unique and important role of Camelina as a balanced nutritional source for humans. "The best ratio of n-6:n-3 from a nutritional point of view was found in Camelina (1:1.4), chia (1:3), and hemp seed (1:0.4), respectively.” This paper also offers excellent background on the benefits of omega oils in human health.