Thursday, January 17, 2013

One Food Plan Doesn't Fit Everyone, Part 3, Fats


Did you know that our brains are about 60 percent fat? The fats we eat strongly influence our level of brain function. Some nutritional anthropologists believe the human brain would not have developed as it did without access to high levels of DHA (a type of fat) found in fish and wild game. 

Just two generations of eating high omega-6 fats and low omega-3 fats can lead to profound and detrimental changes in brain size and function.

Saturated fats: Saturated fats are found in animal products such as butter, cheese, whole milk, ice cream, cream and fatty meats. They are also found in some tropical plants and vegetable oils such as coconut, palm and palm kernel.

Saturated fats are not as dangerous as you think. In fact, coconut oil is quite healthy and is the best oil to use for cooking since it is far less likely to be damaged through heating.

A misguided fallacy that persists to this day is the belief that saturated fat will increase your risk of heart attacks. This is simply another myth that has been harming our health for the last 30 or 40 years. The truth is, healthy saturated fats from high quality minimally processed animal and some vegetable sources provide a concentrated source of energy in your diet, and they provide the building blocks for cell membranes and a variety of hormones and hormone like substances.

When you eat saturated fats as part of your meal, they slow down absorption so that you can go longer without feeling hungry. In addition, they act as carriers for the important fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Dietary fats are also needed for the conversion of carotene to vitamin A, for mineral absorption, and for a host of other biological processes.

It's important though to understand that not all saturated fats are the same. There are subtle differences that have profound health implications, and if you avoid eating all saturated fats, your health will likely suffer as a result. There are in fact more than a dozen different types of saturated fats, but you predominantly consume only three: stearic acid, palmitic acid and lauric acid.

It's well established that stearic acid (found in cocoa and animal fat) has no adverse effects on our cholesterol levels, and actually gets converted in our liver into the monounsaturated fat called oleic acid. The other two, palmitic and lauric acid, do raise total cholesterol. However, since they raise "good" cholesterol as much or more than "bad" cholesterol, you're still actually lowering your risk of heart disease.

Omega-3 fats improve our cell's response to insulin, neurotransmitters and other messengers. They also help the repair process when our cells are damaged. On the other hand, omega-6 fats are pro-inflammatory and contribute to insulin and membrane resistance, altering our moods, and impairing learning and cell repair. To avoid high levels of omega-6, it is important to avoid all vegetable seed oils. (That does not include olive oils, or palm and coconut oils, none of which are from seeds.)

Omega 3’s in beef that feed on grass is seven percent of their total fat content, compared to just one percent in grain-only fed beef. Grass-fed beef also has the recommended ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 fats (a minimum of 3:1 although 1:1 is much better).

Please understand that it's not only necessary to consciously consume omega-3 fats, but it is just as important to lower our omega-6 fat intake. If we don't lower our omega-6 fats to acceptable levels, our omega 6 to omega 3 ratio will not be low enough, and we will not receive many of the wonderful benefits of omega-3 fats such as reduced risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke, Alzheimer's, arthritis and many other degenerative illnesses.

Our intake of omega-6, a fat found in corn, soy, sunflower and other vegetable oils, is far too high. The ideal ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 should be 1:1, but the typical American's ratio ranges anywhere from 15:1 to 50:1

If you only can afford to buy one organic food it should be butter. It is not uncommon for non-organic butter to have up to 20 times the level of pesticides of non-organic fruits and vegetables.

Partial source:

I have more comments about the Omega-3 in eggs from pastured free-range hens... but that's for another post.


  1. Am I wrong or are avocado & grapeseed oils both very high in Omega 6's? I'm just flabbergasted that they seem to be in all the trendy recipes...

  2. Fat from industrial raise animals has very unhealthy Omega 6: Omega 3 levels. The grain feeding is what makes this happen.

    If you take a grass fed animal and finish it on grain for 6 weeks, it's Omegas balance will get way off.

    Conversely, If you take a grain fed animal and give it 2 weeks on good grass, the ratio will change quickly to a more normal profile.

  3. There has been a lot of interest in using grapeseed oil in cooking due to its high smoke point. Is this an oil high in Omega-6 since it is an oil made from seeds?


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