Healing Fats

healing fats

These days, the news is full of information about “good” fats and “bad” fats and how important it is to eat the “right” kind of fat. Since fat was the primary dietary villain not that long ago, it’s understandable that people are confused. There are good fats that contribute to good health, including the Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. Let’s talk about those a little more.

Defining Omega-3 and Omega-6 EFAs

You’ve probably heard that you need to get more Omega-3s in your diet. And it’s true – Omega-3s are important to our health, but to truly maximize the benefts of Omega-3s, you need to eat them in the right proportions with Omega-6-containing foods.

Omegas 3 and 6 are called the “Essential Fatty Acids” or EFAs. Our bodies are unable to make them, so we must obtain them from our food.

Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated, “good” fats, meaning they have health benefts. The three types of Omega-3s fatty acids are a-Linolenic (ALA), Eicosapentaenoic (EPA), and docosahexaenoic (DHA). Omega-6 fatty acids are linoleic acid (LA) and arachidonic acid (AA).

Health benefits

Omega-3s have many important roles to play in our health, but they are particularly important to women’s health. They are involved in making hormones that regulate blood clotting, contraction and relaxation of artery walls, and inflammation. Omega-3s also lessen menstrual cramping, improve fertility, and are important in fetal brain development. Omega-6s are also polyunsaturated and important for optimal health. Omega-6s help stimulate skin and hair growth, maintain reproductive and bone health, and help regulate the metabolism.

Balancing 3s and 6s

Humans lack an enzyme called Omega-3 desaturase – this means we are unable convert the Omega-3s into Omega-6s. This is important because while both Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids are polyunsaturated, Omega-3s help fght inflammation, but Omega-6s can promote inflammation. So it’s important to maintain the correct balance of 3s and 6s.

Prior to the incorporation of processed and fast food into our diets, people grew and made the majority of their food. The typical diet then had a ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 EFAs of approximately 1:1. The modern Western diet, with industrialized food oil production used in fast foods and boxed foods, has changed that ration to 15:1 – 16.7:1.

Why the balance is so important

As the ratio of Omega-3:Omega-6 has changed so radically in our food, we’ve seen an increase in disease: cancer, cardiovascular disease, and autoimmune inflammatory disease have all increased. The elevated amount of Omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) and the very high Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio have played a role in that increase.

How to get the balance back

There is great news! Changing what you eat has a direct impact on this imbalance. Increasing the levels of Omega-3 PUFA foods in your diet will create a low Omega-6: Omega-3 ratio. And the solutions can be delicious.

To increase your Omega-3 PUFAs, eat more:

  • Deep sea fsh: mackerel, salmon, cod liver, herring, sardines, anchovies, black cod, bluefsh, and caviar. Oysters are good too!
  • Seeds: flax and chia seeds, pumpkin and raw sunflower seeds. Açaí berries are also a good source
  • Nuts: Pine nuts, pistachios, walnuts, pumpkin and raw sunflower seeds
  • Oils: Borage, evening primrose, black currant, flaxseed, grapeseed, hemp, olive
  • Leafy vegetables
  • Grass-fed beef

Inflammation, while it sounds unpleasant, is actually necessary for our health, protecting us from injury and infection. But too much inflammation can lead to chronic health problems. Bring your body back into balance by adding more foods that contain Omega-3 fatty acids to your diet. To help, I’ve included a recipe that’s ideally balanced. Enjoy!

Pudding with chia seeds

3 tablespoons chia seeds

1 tablespoon shredded coconut

1/2 cup berries

1 cup unsweetened coconut milk

1 packet stevia (optional for sweetness)

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and chill in refrigerator until the chia turns into a pudding consistency, about 20 minutes.