Tuesday, December 15, 2009

omega-6 fats

OK, so, here's what you need to know about fats.

Our ancestors ate a lot of fat. A LOT. Most of this fat came from animals, as we have been hunter gatherers for far longer than we've been growing grains.

It's important to note that most of the fat in question was from WILD animals. In the tissue of any animal, you'll find both omega-3 fats and omega-6 fats.

Omega-3 fats are anti-inflammatory. Omega-6 fats are pro-inflammatory.

The ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 in grass fed cows is around 1:2. That is, there's roughly double the amount of omega-6 when compared to omega-3 in an animal eating the diet it's supposed to be eating.

But take that same cow and feed it a diet of grains, and you end up with quite a different ratio. Something around 1 part omega-3 to TWENTY parts omega-6.

That's not so good, especially when you have an inflammatory illness -- illnesses such as rheumatoid arthritis, colitis, Crohn's, heart disease, and more.

Dr. Briffa's blog has an article here explaining a bit about this relationship, and how polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are a rich source of omega-6 fats.

So if you are already eating a diet of grains and grain-filled meats, you have a skyrocketing amount of pro-inflammatory omega-6 fats in your diet.

OK, so we can't all afford that grass fed cow. But we can reduce the amount of polyunsaturated fatty acids in our diets with other steps.

The first step is easy -- don't eat grains. And reduce the amount of omega-6 fats from other sources.

So what are other rich sources of PUFAs? The richest source in the human diet is from linoleic acid. Let's see what Wikipedia has to say about that:

Dietary sources of linoleic acid (high in omega 6):

If you'll notice, the highest sources are oils from seeds. Guess what grains are? Yep, seeds. Nuts tend to also have a high percentage, so limiting those (and their oils) is often a good idea as well.

You'll notice also that almost everything from canola oil on up cannot be obtained without heavy processing methods. And when oils are heavily processed, whatever omega-3 benefits they might have had are often destroyed. Think about it. Would a caveman be able to produce corn or canola oil? Of course not. They're unnatural foods.

There's a good article from Mark's Daily Apple about why you shouldn't eat canola oil, so check that out as well.

And what's at the bottom of the list, with the lowest amount of inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids? Real, natural fats that people have been eating for generations -- fats like coconut oil, butter, and even lard!

These fats are real food -- and far better for you than you probably thought.