Queen of Fats- The Omega 3

April 9, 2009

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.

For more information on the subject, please listen to the complete broadcast online. Or, better yet, read the book! I know you will find the subject as interesting as I did.

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Jennifer April 13, 2009 at 4:44 pm

of course everything in moderation is key…but you are right about too much soy. i think mainly you want to avoid soy filler products that are highly processed, found in shelf stable and frozen food products. i think you are fairly safe with soy products like tofu and edamame which are whole soy products. but, remember, soy is a major agricultral crop that is overfarmed and treated (just like corn) with fertilizers and pesticides, etc, so look for organic soy products. also, when looking for organic certification, make sure that there are at least 2 certifiers of the product because all have different standards for cert, the USDA having some of the lowest.
Jessica-did you want to chime in about soy?

Ashley April 13, 2009 at 4:15 pm

Love this! Just bought the book! What do you know about isolated vegetable protein and soy? I’m hearing a lot of bad stuff about too much soy, and while I try to stay away from processed foods, the fake meat products have been a great help in bridging my new veg diet with the boyfriend’s. And then of course is there tempeh, tofu, soy milk, soy cheese, etc… when is too much not good?

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