We read and hear a lot of information about “good” versus “bad” oils and fats, Omega-3s and Omega-6s, and the information can be confusing; even contradictory. These essential oils are so named because they are essential to life. Our bodies don’t make these fats so we have to get them from our diet. The Paleo diet is rich in Omega fatty acids; somehow our cavemen ancestors knew their importance! But we don’t have to be on any extreme diet to get what we need.
Commonly we are told to increase our intake of essential fatty acids in the form of Omega-6. What that blip of a headline fails to detail is that Omega-6s should be balanced at a ratio of 1:1 with Omega-3s; preferably no more than 3:1. And the best form of Omega-6 is in the form of GLA (see list below). When the balance is tipped toward Omega-6 in any form, which it is with most Americans (20-50:1), inflammation and other negative effects take place in the body.
In order to lower inflammation and the risk of developing Alzheimer’s, reduce heart disease and incidence of depression, manage inflammation, weight gain, diabetes, allergies, and immunity issues, our Omega-3 consumption needs to increase (about one teaspoon for 150 lb. person per day) and Omega-6 needs to decrease to a moderate level (about a 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon for a 150 lb. person per day). For a list of 255 different diseases that Omega-3’s benefit, go to: http://greenmedinfo.com.
There are different essential fatty acids in Omega-3 (DHA, EPA, ALA) and Omega-6 (GLA, LA), and each needs to be present to be effective, but the balance is most important. According to Dr. J.E. Williams, OMD, (and many other scientists and doctors) we should take between 2,000-4,000 mg (2-4 grams) DHA/EPA per day, from fish oil, and have the rest in moderation.
To make the best fish oil choice, I found an independent study by Labdoor, http://labdoor.com/rankings/fish-oil of all the brands on the market. They’re ranked and graded A+ through D+ based on several criteria. I was shocked and disappointed to learn the brand I’ve been taking for many years received a C and I just bought a bottle of 240!
Let me also mention coconut oil. It is a medium-chain fatty acid, and adding it to your diet offers major benefits to heart health, immunity, skin, thyroid and more. As with other fats, a little goes a long way, so keep it in moderation.
Besides fish oil, “how do I get these complicated phospholipids?” you might be asking. I’ve created a list below, and as with everything I write about, it is best if the items are organic, non-GMO, unprocessed (no hydrogenation) and/or raw, free-range, grass-fed, wild-caught — basically as pure as possible.
Krill: such a tiny sea nymph but oh so healthy! According to scientific studies, Krill Oil is the most bioavailable Omega-3, meaning our bodies can immediately absorb the DHA and EPA at nearly 100%.
Best Sources for Omega-3:
- Krill*(least contaminated, best source)
- Brussel Sprouts
Best Sources for Omega-6 (GLA):
- Borage Oil
- Blackcurrant Seed Oil
- Evening Primrose Oil (softgel capsule, min. 750 mg/day)
Combination of Omega-3 (ALA) & Omega-6 (LA):
Seeds & Nuts/Oils
- English Walnuts (nearly 10x the antioxidant power of black walnuts)
- Flax Seeds/Oils
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Pine Nuts
- Pasture-raised, organic poultry and egg yolks
Avoid or limit:
- Corn/Soybean/Canola Oil/Palm Oil
- Non-Organic Meat/Poultry
- Processed Carbs/grains
- Margarine/Trans Fats
- ALL Hydrogenated/Partially Hydrogenated fats
Side note: Olive Oil does not lose its health benefits when cooked. For variety, a combination of Olive/Safflower/Sunflower/Coconut provides a nice balance when sautéing or frying. But go ahead and stick with Olive, Safflower or Sunflower oil if that is what you have on-hand. They are far better than most choices.
“Every time you eat, you are either feeding disease or fighting it.” Heather Morgan, MS, NLC