Why are essential fats so important, and what is the best balance? How do you choose the best fats for your health, and which ones should be avoided?
We all need the good healthy fats to thrive, but the big question for many people is, which ones to choose and which ones to avoid. Also which role do fats really play in regards to our health? We have been told that the poly-unsaturated fatty acids Omega-3 and 6 are very important to our health, and in reality most people don’t really know why or pay close attention to this. The fact is, that if we don’t get them and in the right balance, inflammation occur and we become sick. Some of the inflammation diseases that are most common today are: diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, alzheimers, autoimmune disease and many types of cancer. DHA’s are very important for brain health. If you are raising vegan children, DHA’s should be your one of your main supplements to add in, or your child could suffer from abnormal growth and brain development.
Our bodies do not have the enzymes needed to produce omega 3’s and 6’s, so we must get them through our diet. Omega 3’s and 6’s are not stored in the body or used for energy. They are biologically active, and important substances when it comes to blood clotting and inflammation.
The biggest problem with the Western diet is that people consume way too many omega 6 fatty acids, and too little of the omega 3’s. Omega-6’s are pro-inflammatory and the omega-3’s have an anti-inflammatory effect. Inflammation is essential for human survival, as it protects the body from infection and injury, but it can also cause damage and contribute to disease when the inflammatory response is excessive. A diet high in omega-6’s and low in omega-3’s increase the risk of inflammation.
A high intake of omega-6’s create a health risk, as the double bonds in the fatty acid molecules are very reactive. They tend to react with oxygen and forms chain reactions of free radicals and can cause damage to molecules in the cells, and then we are suddenly dealing with cancer and rapid aging.
In the industrialized society, people have a typical ratio of 16:1 (due to all the processed foods they eat), where our forefathers the hunter-gathers had a ratio of 4:1 and 1:1. Humans are not genetically adapted to take such a high intake of omega-6’s so we end up with various health risks as mentioned above. The solution is not to add in a lot of omega-3’s to balance things out, but rather to have a good balance between the two.
So the message is clear: Stay away from processed foods, and fats and oils, as they contain high amounts of omega-6’s. Most seed and vegetable oils have an overload of omega-6’s plus a lot of them are highly processed. These unnatural fats are leading to changes in our body fat stores and cell membranes all over the body. High amounts of omega 6’s are associated with cardiovascular disease, due to the pro-inflammatory effect and lead to depression, violence, mental disorders, heart disease etc.
Here’s a list of the fats and oils you should stay away from, and remember that most processed foods contain these oils. My advice is to ALWAYS read the labels on food, if you buy it pre-made, and ask in the restaurants you go to. Even vegetarian and vegan restaurants use canola oil, so don’t be fooled.
Oils that are high in omega 6’s and should be avoided:
Soy bean oil
Cotton seed oil
This oil is so widely used in the food industry, that it deserves a paragraph of it’s own. Canola stands for Canada oil, and is just a marketing word, nothing else. This oil is made from rapeseed and the oil has been used for industrial purpose for a long time. Rapeseed oil was never an edible oil, as it contains Erucic acid and Glucosinolates, that made the oil taste very bitter. Scientists fixed this problem, and created the “wonder oil” that we now know as canola oil. In 1995 Monsanto the biotech company created GMO rapeseed (genetically engineered), so we now have about 90% of the worlds rapeseed bioengineered. Most people are aware of the big health risk with GMO’s, especially cancer, so this is definitely not an oil you want to consume. Keep in mind, that canola oil contain toxic trans fats after the processing, and everyone knows that trans fats are very harmful and cause heart disease.
Check out this video to see how canola oil is made and decide for yourself, if you think this is a healthy oil, that you would want to eat and don’t forget to factor in the GMO effect which is not mentioned.
The important thing is to have healthy oils in your own kitchen at all times. Oils should be cold-pressed (un-refined) and tapped in an oxygen free environment and put on dark glass bottles. Always store your oil in a cool, dry and dark, e.g.. the refrigerator. If oils are stored in places with high temperatures, they go rancid. Also buy oils in small batches, so you eat them before the go bad.
The oils that are good for you:
Olive oil (extra virgin, cold pressed)
Coconut oil – (only use organic virgin)
The two must have oils are extra-virgin coconut oil and olive oil. Coconut oil is the best oil. It’s rich in lauric acid, which helps improves cholesterol and kills bacteria. Coconut oil is the best oil for cooking with heat. It contains saturated fats, and they can handle cooking at high temperatures without forming free radicals and other harmful compounds like eg. olive oil does. Olive oil can raise the good cholesterol (HDL) and lower the bad cholesterol called LDL. Both of these oils are great to use in smoothies, salads and everything else where you need a healthy oil (along with flax oil, hemp oil and avocado oil).
Be aware that most other seed and vegetable oils are highly refined and most have an overload of omega-6’s. These oils are not heart-healthy, even though this is what we have been told from the so-called experts. Stay away from all of these oils.
So how do you get the omega 3’s from a supplement?
I personally prefer and trust Udo’s oil, which has the perfect balance of omega 3,6 and 9’s. The other best source of vegan/vegetarian DHA is made from micro algaes. I have tried several types, and I have to say, I really feel the difference with Udo’s oil, even though it’s tough to swallow a 1 oz. liquid oil (I do add a piece of pineapple or orange right after that to tolerate it) 🙂
Also I want to state that chia seeds are a great food, but not the best source for getting your DHA’s. Most of the omega-3’s contain ALA’s which are hard for the body to use – they need to be converted in to EPA and DHA’s. Chia seeds are very high in the Omega-3 fatty acid ALA. However, humans are not good at converting this into DHA, the most important Omega-3 fatty acid. So even though the health benefits of chia are great, they are not your best source of omega-3’s.
If you are not vegan or vegetarian (I feel this is important to address) and insist on taking fish oils. ONLY take fish oils from wild alaskan salmon. These have the lowest amount of mercury.