One of my all time favorite radio programs is NPR’s the Splendid Table hosted by Lynn Rossetto Kasper. Not only is she a food genius, but she regularly features guests who also know a thing or two about food. The topics range from common to niche, every one of them fascinating. I listen to her podcast every day lately, but the one I heard yesterday was one that really impacted me.
The topic was Omega 3 fats featuring scientist Susan Allport and her book: Queen of Fats: Why Omega 3 Fats Were Removed from the Western Diet and What We Can Do To Replace Them. Allport’s basic premise was that Omega 3′s have nearly become extinct in the fat cells of our western bodies because of the foods that we eat. She said that we need to have a healthy balance of Omega 3 to Omega 6 (about 5 to 1) in our bodies at all times, but right now our bodies are out of balance. Omega 3s have anti inflammatory properties that are good for our vascular health. A lack of Omega 3s can be linked to diseases of the heart and eyes.
So, how have we managed to reduce our Omega 3 intake? Allport said that Omega 3 fats are found in grass and plants that livestock (cows, chickens, etc) eat. By switching their diet to corn (most livestock is now corn fed even though it’s unnatural for the animal), we have susequently reduced the amount of Omega 3s that the animals eat, and have consequently reduced our intake of Omega 3s as well. Besides eating products of grass fed animals, Allport said that one of the easiest ways to put Omega 3 fats back in our diets is to use Omega 3 rich oils like walnut oil, or to use oils that have a healthy balance of Omega 3 and 6s like olive oil. She advises against using corn oils and soybean oils that are high in Omega 6 fats.
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