How to Correct a Fatty Acid
(Fatty Acid Deficiencies Part II)
So how do you correct a fatty acid imbalance? You might
want to start by having your blood tested for fatty acids. Check with a
nutritionist. Some people have an inability to refine certain fatty acids, and might have
a severe shortage of GLA, a refined omega-6 fatty acid, even if they eat tons of omega-6
fatty acids. Or they may be unable to refine omega-3 fatty acids. With a blood test
you'll know right away whether you have a serious problem or not (they actually measure
the percentage of fatty acids in your blood). Or you can just try a supplement like Efalex
for a few months and see if there are any changes.
There seems to be a consensus among the researchers: You
should strive for a fat content of about 25 - 30% of your total calories, AND:
- Avoid animal fats (saturated)
- Eliminate trans-fats (hydrogenated
or partly-hydrogenated fats)
- Avoid most vegetable oils because
they contain Omega 6 fatty acids (corn, safflower, sunflower)
- Increase monounsaturated fats (fresh
flax oil, extra virgin olive oil, expellor pressed canola oil) and foods containing high
levels of Omega-3 fatty acids (leafy greens, flax meal, wild game).
- Take Omega-3 supplements (fish oil
or flax oil) and possibly GLA (primrose or borage oil). If you do this, you should
also take Vitamin E supplements. "Efalex" and "Focus" are
commercial products specifically formulated with a mixture of omega-3 and omega-6 oils.
- Take vitamin supplements to ensure
your system can adequately process your fatty acids.
- Take antioxidents such as Vitamins C
and E to prevent destruction of fragile fatty acids by free radicals.
Flax Oil: An
excellent source of the parent Omega-3 fatty acid called ALA is flaxseed oil, which is 57%
ALA. Unfortunately, you can't cook with it. The normal dosage is one
tablespoon per day unless you are afflicted with cancer or some other ailment, in which
case 3 to 6 tablespoons per day is typical. Some sources say the oil should be mixed
with 1/4 cup of cottage cheese or 1 cup of yogurt for it to be utilized most
effectively. The oil must be cold-press, refrigerated and fresh, otherwise is goes rancid
and the Omega-3's breakdown. Barleans is a
popular brand with a very good reputation and the best taste (that's what I use).
Capsules are not recommended because they are not refrigerated and the oil may be no
good. I mix a tablespoon with a cup of yogurt or in a fruit milkshake. My six
year old son actually likes eating flax oil right from the spoon.
Flax oil has by far the highest concentration of unrefined
Omega-3s of any oil. Bear in mind, however, that some people have a metabolic
disorder where they cannot utilize unrefined fatty acids like those found in flax oil.
These people must consume high quality refined fatty acids in the form of DHA, such as
those found in fish oil. If you try flax oil and nothing happens, switch to a
product such as Efalex or Focus.
Flaxmeal is another good source and it can be added to
foods much like wheat germ. Meat and poultry producers are now starting to add
flaxseed to the feed of their animals in order to increase the Omega-3 content. For
example, if you live in the New England you can buy Country
Hen eggs for about double or triple the price of normal eggs. Testing has shown
that you can eat two of these eggs every day and your cholesteral won't increase.
|"In the twenty-first century, you
will be able to shop at an ordinary supermarket and buy meat and eggs from animals raised
on omega-3 enriched diets; the produce section will feature purslane and other vegetables
that have been hybridized to be high in omega-3 fatty acids; you will be able to buy
mayonnaise, salad dressings, and snacks made from canola oil; flaxseeds and flax meal will
be included in many types of baked goods. To help you select healthier foods,
product labels will include information about essential fatty acids and trans-fatty acids.
"Until that day arrives, however, you will have to take matters
into your own hands." - Artemis Simopoulos, M.D., The Omega Plan.
Another source of Omega-3 is expeller pressed canola oil, which
is 10% ALA (find this in a health food store). This oil is cheap and may be used in
low temperature cooking. I use it as a substitute for butter in prepackaged foods
like macaroni and cheese. You can buy canola mayonaise (Hains, not Cains, is a very tasty
brand), and look for canola as an ingredient in prepackaged foods. Some brands
of canola oil contain Vitamin E as an antioxident. Store canola oil in the
refrigerator to prevent the breakdown of fragile Omega-3's. I sneak this oil into the food
of my junk-food crazed family sometimes. You can mix some in with foods like
Spagettios or substitute it for butter in macaroni and cheese mixes.
Olive oil is
a great cooking oil because it can take higher temperatures and has more flavor, although
it contains fewer Omega-3's than either flax or canola oils. On the other hand it is
the most monounsaturated oil and appears to be great for your general health. Be
sure to buy extra virgin oil, cold-pressed, or all the Omega-3 fatty acids will have
deteriorated by the time you eat it. Try and make olive oil part of your daily diet.
This oil does not have to be refrigerated.
Fish oil is
most often recommended by nutritionists and researchers, because it contains a more
refined and potent version of Omega-3's than any other type of oil. On the downside,
fish oil is typically contaminated with toxic chemicals like PCBs, dioxin, mercury and
other chemicals which tend to accumulate in your body as long as you live. If you
are a women or girl who plans to have children someday, I would advise against taking in
lots of unrefined fish oil because the contaminates accumulate in your body over time and
can affect your fetus. Some DHA supplements made from fish oil are OK because the
DHA has been separated from the fish oil and contaminents (Efalex, Focus, and oils from
Spectrum Naturals, for example). DHA is also made from algae.
GLA/ Primrose supplements:
The "brain oil" GLA can be
manufactured internally by most people out of Omega-6 fatty acids, and most people
get enough of these. However, many things can go wrong with your body's internal
manufacturing process, and some people with conditions such as ADD improve significantly
when given GLA supplements. Primrose oil and borage oil are the usual sources.
Avoiding saturated fats: These are the animal fats.The meat our ancestors ate was extremely lean,
and the general public is now aware than we tend to eat too much of this. You don't
have to eliminate saturated fats, but avoid foods like sausage and butter, and buy milk
products with reduced fat. On the other hand, I would eat butter before I'd eat margarine,
Eliminate trans-fats: This is almost impossible, but a worthy goal. Trans-fats are the
man-made hydrogenated oils found in just about every processed food you pick up at the
supermarket. They are used because they have a very long shelf life and do not
contain cholesteral like animal fats do. They are used in cookies, muffins,
crackers, donuts,breads, shortening, margarine, mayonaise (except canola mayonaise),
anything fried, and many other products. This is especially important for kids
and expectant mothers because trans-fats may be incorporated into the brain structure of
the child. People think that trans-fats are better for their heart than saturated
fats because they do not contain cholesteral, but it's not true. Read your
labels carefully while shopping and forget about those french fries at MacDonald's.
When baking, try and substitute all or some of the shortening with canola oil.
Avoid vegetable oils (except olive, canola and flax oils): Most vegetable oils have a
very high level of Omega-6 fatty acids compared to Omega-3 fatty acids, and that will
interfere with your body's use of Omega-3's. Moreover, Omega-6 fatty acids have been
found to significantly feed tumor growth while Omega-3's inhibit it. Throw
out the sunflower and soybean oils.
Vitamins and Minerals: Vitamin
E supplements are essential if you take fish oil or flax oil because high quantities of
Omega-3s can cause Vitamin E deficencies. See my section on nutrition
for more information.
The Barleans website
is where I buy my flax oil.
Efalex is produced by the Efamol
The official Zone
website (Barry Sears, Ph.D.) has recipes and prepackaged foods which contain a
40-30-30 a balance of carbohydrates-fats-protein and relies on the "good oils"
for the fat portion.