I know that fats have gotten a bad wrap in the anti-cholesterol scare of the last sixty years, but there are beneficial forms of healthier fats. Also, human bodies need these good fats, as there are fats in every cell of our bodies. Even government agencies are starting to have to admit that we were on the wrong course, pushing sugar and carbs in the avoidance of eating fats.
- energy for our body, almost without needing to digest them (cite 4)
- fuel our immune systems directly, before going to the liver as other food does
- help us stay full longer (which means not reaching for the donuts at 4pm), and
- are the source of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, and E (cite 3)
- help water-soluble vitamins like the B series and K ride into the body, too. (To read more, see the end of the article.) (cite 3)
Keeping It All in Balance: Omega 3 and 6:
Part of the debate about fats is the source of the fats. In pre-history days, when everyone was hunting for meat, fish and fowl, most people got two “essential fatty acids” called Omega 3 and Omega 6 in almost balanced amounts. (They’re called “essential” because you need to eat them, instead of making them.) They were in a ratio of 1:2 or 1:3, or so, for Omega 3 to 6.
As we moved toward eating beef, dairy, poultry and farmed fish that are fed corn, wheat, other grains, and soybean, the level of Omega 6 rises dramatically in our meat and dairy. Chickens fed grains and soy create eggs with a ratio of Omega 3 to 6 like this: 1:19! (cite 11)
More Grains, Beans and Corn, Please!
Think about our own diet, too – we also eat grains, beans and corn, which means more Omega 6’s, further unbalancing us. Vegetable oils are also a source of Omega 6’s, which can further imbalance us as we eat commercial meats. These are also either separated with heat or treated with chemicals, which makes them carcinogenic or toxic to us, respectively. Here is a quote from the Weston A. Price Foundation website:
“Actually, as Americans have increased their intake of omega-6 vegetable oils, heart disease has soared…Any doctor who goes to medical school will have learned in Biochemistry 101 that polyunsaturated oils contribute to cancer, heart disease, inflammation and aging.”1
Diane Sanfilippo, author of Practical Paleo, wrote that if she told someone she had eggs in some form for all three meals in a day, plus a snack, our reaction would probably be, “Yikes! That’s a lot of eggs.” However, no one would blink twice if she told us she had wheat toast with breakfast, bread with a sandwich at lunch, a cracker snack in the afternoon, and stuffing or bread rolls for dinner. Isn’t that a lot of wheat? She’s right!
Why Do We Care?
As our diets move towards a more even balance of Omega 3:6, it helps the conversion of Omega 3’s, which most of us are short, and helps reduce body-wide inflammation.
So, here it is, our list of Six Healthier Fat Sources:
- Avocado: Apparently this is a fruit, not a vegetable, but all I know is that its delicious! Half an avocado provides about one quarter of a person’s daily needs of anti-aging and anti-oxidant vitamin E (but don’t feel limited to just half). They also provide fiber, potassium, and magnesium.(cite 10) It’s monounsaturated fat, a good fat for heart health.Avocado also provides Omega 9’s, which are still great for us, but don’t figure in the Omega 3:6 ratio at all. They provide a little Omega-6 (1.7g per 100g.) (cite 9)Try it as a side dish at lunch with salad dressing, or sprinkled with lemon juice or cider vinegar, sea salt, black pepper, and olive oil. It’s also good mashed into soup just before serving, or added to toast and sardines, and tuna wraps.
- Olives & Olive Oil: Rich in Omega 9 fatty acids, these oils are healthy when found in the olive itself, or when oil is used cold or at lower cooking temperatures. The oil is part of the Mediterranean diet. Heating over a certain temperature can cause it to become bad for you, and make you sick to boot (guess how I know–). Coconut and animal fats below might be better choices for cooking, as they are stable.)Omega 9 in olives and olive oil don’t play into the Omega 3:6 equation at all.
Adding the oil to rice or squash after cooking, or to any food (bread dip? broccoli, squashes), can help avoid constipation, too.
- Coconut Oil, Butter, MCT Oil: These are three forms of coconut oil. Coconut products contain lauric acid, a fat good for brain health. It has antibacterial and antiviral properties. Studies publicized by Dr. Bruce Fife, author of Coconut Oil Miracle (book), have shown that 3-4 TB per day can greatly benefit the brain function of Alzheimer’s patients. He claims it can help reverse it!Coconut butter is more fibrous, and tastes great in coffee, or on vegetables. [Our Paleo, GAPS and SCD snack packs found here include packs of coconut butter, so you can use it on the go, for coffee, vegetables or anywhere else that sounds good.]MCT oil is a liquid form of coconut oil that goes well into shakes, and tastes less strongly of coconut. It’s often sold in the body builder’s aisle of health food stores, but also benefits people with digestive issues in the colon, or large intestine. This is because the colon usually makes short-chain fatty acids. MCT oil can supplement oils that are not being made properly in the colon. (I am not recommending this brand, its just the one I have found at my local store.)
Caption: Pastured pork lard at left, and solid coconut oil at top. The former contains vitamin D, and coconut oil is antibacterial, antiviral, and is a healthy brain fat. Both are stable fats for use in high-heat cooking on the stove or in the oven.
- Grass-Fed Pork Lard: It’s a crazy day when the hippies and nutrition crazies are actually recommending pork lard, but that day is HERE, America! Pork fat from a grass-fed (or pastured) source is high in vitamin D, which is linked to many, many functions in the body. Many people are deficient, in part because in northern USA and Canadian areas the sun rays that make vitamin D don’t even reach the earth; they bounce off the earth from about October through March. Plus most of us in snowy areas are wearing parkas!Pigs’ natural diet include a wide variety of foods, including meat and bugs, vegetables and fruits, not just grains. Pork lard is stable when cooking at high heats on the stove or oven, which alone makes them better than heating vegetable oils. Try it for frying meats, corn tortillas, in pie pastry, cookies or stir-fried dishes. However, pork fats from animals raised on grains, corn and soy, are not recommended due to the lack of vitamin D, the possibility that those grains could come through the meat and impact the person, and the nature of animal fats to concentrate toxins like pesticides in the feed.
This photo shows farmed salmon, which had to be colored, on the left, compared to rich-in-good-oils wild salmon on the right. These were juxtaposed like this at a store! Which would you choose?
- Wild Fish: Oily fish like salmon have higher levels of the beneficial Omega 3 essential fatty acids, and much less Omega 6. The rate of Omega 3’s for per 3.5 oz (100 g) serving ranged from 1.1 to 2.3g.(cite 5) It also contains vitamin D. It’s fantastic protein! [Other sources of vitamin D are fish oils, tuna, mackerel, swordfish, and wild shrimp (usually labelled “salad” size- tiny!)] (2)The FDA allows there to be a claim about Omega 3’s in products, that there is evidence that they can reduce coronary heart disease. Other good fish with Omega 3’s include lake trout, wild tuna and herring. (cite 6)Farmed fish is higher in Omega 6 levels due to their being raised on corn, soy and other grains. On the subject of Omega 6’s, Dr. Mercola’s website states that in a half a salmon filet, wild to farmed compared like this: 341mg vs. 1944mg. (Remember, most of us already get too much Omega 6.) (cite 7)There may also be contamination issues with farmed fish. The PubMed website states “Salmon, especially farmed salmon, are a good source of healthy n-3 fatty acids, but they also contain high concentrations of organochlorine compounds such as PCBs, dioxins, and chlorinated pesticides. The presence of these contaminants may reduce the net health benefits derived from the consumption of farmed salmon…” (cite 8)Check out the color difference in the photo above; farm-raised salmon has to be colored in the feed, and looks an anemic orange. Apparently, fish farmers in some areas have been overstating the amount of Omega 3’s in their product. (cite 7)
Caption: Whole milk, “pastured” yogurt increases vitamin availability of these fat-soluble vitamins, and contains Omega 3 fatty acids.
- Grass-Fed Whole Milk Yogurt: Grass-fed dairy (called “pastured dairy”) also has higher levels of the beneficial Omega 3 essential fatty acids, and lower Omega 6 levels. (Remember, the imbalance (high-Om6) can lead to inflammation.) The higher Omega-3 levels are due to their grass diet, in place of grains, soy and corn.I recommend the whole fat version, because the fat is the source of the vitamins A, D, E (all fat-soluble vitamin!), and helps us absorb the calcium. And you want the Omega 3 fats that are in there from the cows’ diet of grasses. No fat = no vitamins, calcium, nor Omega 3, so enjoy the taste!This yogurt is also high in the vitamin K2, which helps with clotting and make other vitamins work better.** The cows convert grass’ K1 into K2 in their stomachs, from gut bacteria (amazing, isn’t it?). I recommend yogurt, because it is easier to digest than cheese and pasteurized milk.The easiest yogurt to digest is one you make yourself, fermenting it for at least 24 hours, to make the food more easily digested. (Some store brands are only fermented for four hours, which means they still contain lactose.)While sometimes controversial, using raw milk to make your yogurt is easier to digest because it still has five or more enzymes included in the milk. Enzymes help unlock the foods for use in the body. (I hope to post an article about how to ferment yogurt in the future.)
US Wellness Meats sells quality grass-fed meat products delivered right to your door. Visit them online!
I Want More, You Whine!
To read more about desirable fats in your diet, I would recommend these sources:
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Copyright Transform Health LLC, 2016
3 Weston A. Price’s book Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Dr. Weston A. Price, details the importance of food, good nutrition, vitamins, and soaking of grains and beans to live vibrant lives free of disease. Available online and possibly your local library. And Nourishing Traditions p.15
4 Gut and Psychology Syndrome: Natural Treatment for Autism, Dyspraxia, A.D.D., Dyslexia, A.D.H.D., Depression, Schizophrenia (shop on Amazon) by Dr. Natasha McBride
10 Avocado Nutrition: http://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/2157?fgcd=&manu=&lfacet=&format=&count=&max=35&offset=&sort=&qlookup=avocado
11 Nourishing Traditions book by Sally Fallon and Mary Enig, Ph.D.
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