Omega Fatty Acids # 4: Nitty Gritty of Getting to Balance

May 06, 2009

Omega Fatty Acids # 4:  Nitty Gritty of Getting to Balance 

 Competency # 13 Fats                 Reference: Minireview, Center for Genetics, Nutr and Health, 2008 

 The story of how omega fats work out their magic is not completely finished.  There is contradictory evidence and a lot of research going on.  My belief is that it makes good sense to try and make the changes that I can.  I change slowly but with practice, I can get on the bus. 

 Strategy # 1.  Stop eating as many omega-6s.  Most vegetable oils are mostly omega-6 fats.  Corn oil and soybean oil are two big sources of omega-6.  Olive oil is only 8% omega-6.  Switching to olive oil is one good strategy.  Just stop using or buying corn oil.  The lower the total omega-6s you eat, the less omega-3s you need to add back.  Become a vegetable oil detective and find ways to get away from all that grease.

 Strategy # 2.  Eat more nuts.  Almost all nuts have lots of great omega-3s in them.  Walnuts and almonds are probably the kings, but just about every nut has been found to be great when folks get around to studying it.  When the pistachio farmers fund a study on pistachios, sure enough, they were also great. 

 Strategy #3.  Eat Healthy Meats.  Eat Salmon, sardines, fatty fish, or any fish for that matter.  Grass-fed beef is fine, as is bison, caribou, elk, deer – as long as it's not feedlot raised.  White poultry meat is also good-if it’s free-range and can eat bugs and grass.  (Tall order and not common) 

 Strategy #4.  Eat Leafy Green Vegetables.  Spinach is king, but so is kale, swiss chard, romaine, and all the rest of the greens.  They are the origins of omega-3s.  Eat lots of them (This is why vegans have healthy levels of DHA and EPA as long as they eat NO trans fats.) 

Strategy #5.  EAT NO TRANS FATS.  They block your natural production of ALA to EPA and DHA.  Become a trans fat detective.  Dairy topping, pie crust, fried food at restaurants, french fries, hash browns… 

 Strategy #6.  Add natural ALA… flax seed, ground up, and added to your cereal or think of other sources.   Chia seeds aren’t just for silly, window “pets” – they are loaded with ALA.  ALA capsules are also effective.  (There are others: primrose, hemp, borage.) 

 Strategy # 7.  Take Fish Oil.  This might be the single best strategy of all.  If you aren’t taking a gram a day, you must start.  That, by itself, will get you down to 4:1 if you cut the corn oil and soy oil.  Get used to those three capsules each and every day.  If you can, take it twice a day and get 2 grams, so much the better.  Any brand will do.  Virtually none have any mercury in them. 

 Strategy #8.  Low-Temperature Cooking.  High heat cooking naturally makes trans fats.  Grilling, frying, broiling all make natural trans fats in addition to AGEs (advanced glycation products) that are separately problematic.  Boiling, steaming and baking are lower temp methods that make less natural trans fats. 

 WWW. What will work for me?  Sharing recipes!  I’m ok with the fish oil.  I eat flax every day.  I’m not so good at avoiding the fried spring rolls at the local Chinese, which are probably loaded with trans fats.  But, I’m getting better.  No fries, recently.

The column was written by Dr. John E Whitcomb, MD, Brookfield Longevity, Brookfield, WI (262-784-5300)