Did you know in the last 150 years we have seen an unprecedented change in our fat intake? Particularly an intake from oils? Refined, inflammatory omega-6 oils including corn, soy, cottonseed and safflower oils have replaced the more beneficial Omega-3 oils from fish, wild game and wild plants. The ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 fats has increased from 1:1 to 15:1 or 20:1 in our diets, and the effects have been bad, to say the least. Most major diseases of aging as well as the epidemic of brain disorders are directly associated with this change in our diet.
Today, the only real sources of Omega-3 fats are wild fish and game, seaweed, algae, breast milk and eggs from chickens fed only flaxseeds and fish meal. Our brains don’t work without Omega-3 fats, period. That is why low levels of Omega-3 fats have been linked to everything from
depression and anxiety, to bipolar disease and criminal behavior, to attention deficit disorder (ADD), autism and learning disabilities. The Omega-3 fatty acids from wild fish and certain nuts and seeds play critical roles in our cognitive development and learning, visual development, immune and anti – inflammatory responses. They help protect against Alzheimer’s disease, mental illness, heart disease, and even cancer. Whew! That is a lot of benefit from one nutrient!!Read on for more staggering statistics and for a super quick Omega -3 recipe you can make for lunch or dinner anyday!
Where Do These Oils Come From?
80 percent (!) of the fats consumed in the United States are linoleic acid -
an unhealthy Omega-6 fatty acid that promotes inflammation and disease. This harmful oil is prevalent in much of our food, mostly coming from soybean oil. Where are we getting all this soy oil? Check your pantry. If you have snack foods like chips, popcorn, crackers, cookies, and even cereals and granola, you will see any or all of the following oils: Soybean, Corn, Cottonseed, Safflower, Canola, Sunflower. You might even see a questionable-looking one like: Safflower and/or cottonseed and/or soybean oil. That means, at the time of production, the manufacturer can change at the last minute which oil they will use, based on the cheapest market price. But, they put all three on the label because labels are made in advance of producing the actual product. Very reassuring isn’t it
Another major source of soybean oil is in restaurants. Ever wondered what oil the foods are fried in, cooked in, sautéed in? Most of the time it’s soybean oil or another seed oil. Which by the way, makes me wonder about another seed oil in our food supply. Who decided to take a cotton seed and make an oil for human consumption out of it?
How Do We Get The Beneficial Oils?
The two most important Omega-3 fats to know about are eicosapentanoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Perhaps you have seen products in the store like milk, touting “Now with DHA”. They have simply fortified the milk with DHA from either a fish oil or algae. These two forms of Omega-3 are necessary fats. Your brain is made up of mostly fat, with 60 percent of your brain made up of specifically DHA. Put simply, if you don’t have enough of these, your brain does not work. Yet, it is estimated that we consume only about 10 percent of our fats from DHA and EPA. To put it in perspective, the Japanese consume 80 percent of their fats from EPA and DHA. Perhaps that could explain why the Japanese have some of the lowest depression rates in the world. It is interesting to also note that 4 to 5 million years of human evolution occurred in a seafood-rich environment in which seafood was the main source of fats. The best source of these Omega-3 fats is wild fish (sardines make a great choice), a clean reputable fish oil supplement and pasture raised meats. Eggs with DHA have a good amount. Another (vegetarian) source is flax seeds. It’s always best to grind them right before you ingest them. Other honorable mentions are walnuts and if you have access to a farmer’s market in the fall and spring, you can get wild greens like purslane which is rich in Omega-3′s. Of course, there’s also seaweed and algae – like Spirulina.
Artichoke, Sardine and Capers Salad
On a plate, add 2 cups of your favorite mixed organic greens
Top with about a cup of artichoke hearts, cut in half (you can find these in jars)
Add the sardines packed in mustard (see picture below) on top
Sprinkle a few capers on top
Drizzle about two tablespoons Mediterranean Vinaigrette (recipe below)
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