Friday, June 15, 2012

Consultation - Get Your Fats Right

Fat is vital to life.  Without it our bodies would not function properly.   When it comes to fat, many people think in terms of how too much fat can effect your cholesterol and weight.  However, more attention should be given to how fats effect our cells and various functions of the body.   So today we'll do an overview of how to make sure we're getting the right kinds of fats in the diet.

Of the top ten daily diet tips mentioned by Patrick Holford, the first one listed has to do with our daily fat intake.  We'll go through the 'top 10' list one by one, until we've learned how to incorporate all of these foods into  our diet.  Here's tip number one:
Golden Flax Seeds

#1 Take one heaping tablespoon of fresh, raw ground seeds or one tablespoon of cold-pressed oil.

The basic kinds of fats are saturated (hard) fat such as butter and meat.  Saturated fats are not essential.  The two kinds of unsaturated fats are polyunsaturated and monounsaturated.  The latter fats mentioned are essential for optimal health.  Having a quality source of these fats effects the brain and nervous system, immune system, cardiovascular system and skin.  One sign of essential fats deficiency is dry skin. Some health experts point to depression as another side effect of sub-optimal levels of omega-3 and omega-6.

Sources of Unsaturated Fats

The kind of fat found in nuts and seeds is unsaturated fat.  Olive oil is an example of monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat is the type present in nuts and seeds.  Of these, polyunsaturated fats are essential to good health.  The two kinds are linoleic acid, or omega-6, and linolenic acid which is better known as omega-3.  These fats have a profound impact on hormone health creating prostaglandins.  Prostaglandins are essential for proper brain function,which affects vision, learning ability, coordination and mood.  Some prostaglandins are anti-inflammatory and one is pro-inflammatory.  The kinds of fats consumed determine which prostaglandins are made.  They also reduce the stickiness of the blood, control blood cholesterol and fat levels, improve immune function, reduce inflammation, and maintain water balance.   Hormones are either fatlike, called steroid hormones or proteinlike, such as insulin.  They are made from components of your food, and diet can play an important part of keeping your hormones in balance.

What are the best food sources of essential fats?  Fish, nuts and seeds.  The nuts/seeds richest in omega 3 are flax, hemp and pumpkin seeds.  The sources richest in omega-6 include corn, safflower, sunflower and sesame seeds. Corn should always be organic! We'll have to discuss that later.

Due to concerns about toxic metals in fish, many prefer to use a fish oil supplement.  Fish oils contain EPA and DHA.  Nuts and seeds are converted into these acids through processes in the body.  By consuming fish you can bypass these conversions and get a more direct benefit.  The reduced consumption of fish has fueled the epidemics of cardiovascular and mental health problems since both the brain and the body depend on omega-3 fats. The highest amounts of EPA and DHA are found in mackerel, herring, salmon, tuna, sardines, anchovies, marine algae and eggs.  Salmon, and sardines have been shown to have lower levels of metals.  Try to be informed of which fish contain the most metals.

If you don't like nuts and seeds or fish, you can try oil supplements.  For omega-6, you could use borage oil, evening primrose oil or black currant oil.  Look for something that contains at least 100 mg of GLA.  For a fish oil supplement you'll need at least 200 mg of EPA and 200 mg of DHA or 400 mg of these two combined into one pill.

I still recommend eating seeds.  They are abundantly rich is essential fats, minerals, protein and vitamin E.  Here's how to get a 50/50 ratio of omega-3 and omega-6:

  1. Fill a glass jar with an airtight lid, such as a mason jar, half with flax seeds (omega-3) and half with a combination of sesame, sunflower, and pumpkin seeds (rich in omega-6).  
  2. Keep the jar sealed, and place in the refrigerator to help keep the seeds from oxidizing. 
  3. Now you can follow the advice found in tip one of the top ten diet tips.  Grind one heaping tablespoon of seeds and put on cereals, soup.  You can also use in smoothies and salad dressings. 
You can use a coffee grinder, seed grinder or the dry blade container you purchased with your Vitamix.  With the dry blade container you can make almond flour too.  

In a future article, we'll discuss why we should avoid fried foods and especially fats such as shortening and margarine.  
Grind Your Own Fresh Flax Seeds!

Use your ground seeds in the Cholesterol Controller Smoothie above.


The New Optimum Nutrition Bible by Patrick Holford; Fats that Heal-Fats that Kill by Udo Erasmus


Those seeking help for specific medical conditions are advised to consult a qualified nutrition therapist, clinical nutritionist, doctor, or equivalent health care professional. The recommendations given here are intended solely as education and information, and should not be taken as medical advice. Neither myself nor the sources mentioned accept liability for those who choose to self-prescribe. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to treat, diagnose or cure any disease either physical or mental.

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