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Eight Important Facts About Useful And Harmful Oils

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  • Eight Important Facts About Useful And Harmful Oils

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    We are constantly talking about "natural fats", but we do not specify what we are talking about. Are all oils equally useful, and if not, which ones are needed first? With the fact that TRANS fats-industrially obtained margarine and all that sort of thing – is evil, everyone has long been determined.

    The war with butter and other animal fats also ended in a complete victory for them. It's time to move from the basics to matters, though more subtle, but no less important, namely, polyunsaturated fatty acids omega-3 and omega-6.

    Each of us has heard about them in chemistry classes at school, they are often written about in publications about healthy lifestyle, and many people think that talking about good and bad polyunsaturated fatty acids is a bit of a slyness.

    Well, common sense tells us that everything is arranged in harmony in nature, and if it has both, then somehow humanity has adapted to digest both over millions of years.

    But we don't believe in common sense, as Professor Robert Lustig says, because it is often wrong. There are several important facts that are necessary to understand the situation.




    Fact One: our body needs omega-3 fatty acids and it doesn't know how to create them


    This means that we need to get them with food, otherwise we can't be healthy. All cells in our body, and especially the brain, need omega-3 to build their shells and innards (organelles).

    The highest-quality omega-3 fatty acids, consisting of long chains (called EPA and DHA) - are mainly found today in oily fish (and in wild fish, there are more of them than in artificially bred), as well as in the meat of animals that grazed on wild meadows.




    Fact Two: the meat of wild fish, free-grazing happy cows and chickens contains more high-quality omega-3



    Why are biographical details of animals, birds, and fish so important? The fact is that the composition of fatty acids in the flesh of an animal depends very much on what the animal eats. In compound feeds there are little omega-3 fatty acids (there is just more omega-6 about which later), and in fresh grass and algae-much more.

    Plants contain short chains of omega-3, which animals process and turn into long ones (more useful for you and me).

    By the way, vegetables and vegetable oil (for example, sunflower), which we eat, also have omega-3, but, first, there are fewer of them than in the same fish, and secondly, as we have already said, vegetable omega-3s consist of shorter chains and are therefore less suitable as a material for building cells of the human body.






    Fact Three: the balance of fatty acids has been disrupted over the past 50 years


    Actually, the technology that makes our food 16 times more omega-6 than omega-3 appeared closer to the middle of the 20th century, and since then, the consumption of various such oils and their derivatives has steadily gone up. Here, for example, is how the consumption of various oils in America has changed over a hundred years (note soy oil):

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    But this graph shows how the ratio of different fatty acids in human abdominal fat increased the percentage of linoleic fatty acid (refers to omega-6 acids):


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    Dr. Stephan Guyenet

    And finally, a graph that illustrates what this all leads to a stable association between omega-6 in cell membranes and cardiovascular disease.


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    It has been repeatedly proven (here, here, and here) that if you replace the diet with saturated animal fats with oil rich in omega-6 acids, the risk of heart disease increases markedly. Omega-3s have the opposite effect-they reduce the risk of heart disease (here, here and here)

    The heart and blood vessels are not limited: there is evidence that omega-6 consumption is associated with depression and even violence, and omega-3, on the contrary, helps with bipolar disorder, depression, and even, it seems, schizophrenia.




    Fact Four: omega-6 fatty acids are involved in inflammatory processes and omega-3-anti-inflammatory


    Omega-6 is a close relative of omega-3, but with a less pleasant character. These fatty acids are found mainly in seeds and nuts, respectively, in bread and all flour, in cereals and, for example, sunflower oil, quite a lot of these omega-6s.

    And they are involved in inflammation. Actually, there is nothing wrong with this, because inflammation is an important process, without it, there is no recovery of damage.

    Muscle pain after exercise is a microinflammation necessary for the growth and strengthening of fibers. Without inflammation, there is no healing of wounds and many other things, but long-term inflammation causes harm.

    In fact, inflammation is a very common process and a key element of many serious diseases: heart attack and atherosclerosis of the arteries, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, arthritis, Alzheimer's disease, and some cancers are all partly inflammatory diseases.

    Omega-6 fatty acids react easily with oxygen to form free radicals, which damage different parts of cells, leading to inflammation and cancer.

    Too much omega-6 fatty acids, which are associated with inflammation, is harmful. On the other hand, it has been observed that omega-3s have an anti-inflammatory effect.




    Fact Five: in modern food, the balance between healthy omega-3s and unhealthy omega-6s has shifted in favor of the latter


    Accordingly, if we agree that omega-6 is involved in inflammation, and omega-3 is, on the contrary, extinguished, then the body needs a balance of the first and second.

    At least, this is the current idea of a healthy diet. And the problem is that in the modern diet of an ordinary citizen, the balance is broken – and we eat an order of magnitude more "non-useful" omega-6 than "useful" omega-3.

    The animals whose fat we consume eat compound feeds rich in omega-6, respectively, and their meat contains more omega-6. Wild fish, eggs from "happy" laying hens and meat of cows grazing peacefully in the meadows are rare and quite expensive food, almost a luxury in our times.

    But even worse, margarine and vegetable oils, which produce the lion's share of industrial food, contain almost no omega-3, mostly omega-6. As a result, modern Westerners eat about 16 times more omega-6 than omega-3.

    According to Dr. Stephan Guyenet, who has studied the lifestyle and nutrition of non-industrial communities that live a natural life and eat natural food for many years, the healthy ratio of omega-6 and omega-3 is from 4:1 to 1:4.

    For example, in African hunters and gatherers who eat mostly animal meat, this ratio is 2:1 or 4:1, and Inuit fish-eaters, on the contrary, 1: 4 in favor of omega-3.





    Fact Six: not all vegetable oils are equally useful


    Without further ado, here is a graph where everything is very clear:

    (in order from top to bottom: rapeseed, safflower, flax, sunflower, corn, olive, soy, peanut, cotton, lard, palm, butter, coconut).


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    In the table, in addition to omega-3 and omega-6, there is also oleic acid (omega-9) – this is generally a useful compound, but not that it is vital for us to get it with food since our body is able to synthesize omega-9 acids itself as needed.

    As you can see in this interesting picture, butter, coconut, and palm oil contain relatively little omega-6 fatty acids. But sunflower, corn, and soy oil are much worse. An important conclusion from all of the above:


    Useful: flaxseed, olive, rapeseed, butter, coconut, palm


    Harmful: sunflower, corn, soy


    Important note: even "useful" vegetable oils must be of high quality, cold-pressed. This is especially true for rapeseed oil, which under the “normal” process undergoes a serious chemical treatment. Such oils are more expensive, but this is just the case when saving is harmful to health.

    But even the most environmentally friendly rapeseed and olive oil should be eaten in moderation, so as not to overdo the omega-6. And avoid products that contain unspecified "vegetable oil".

    Experience suggests that when manufacturers use expensive and useful ingredients, they necessarily indicate them, and when cheap and harmful-often hide them behind vague formulations.

    This raises a logical question: what about pumpkin and sunflower seeds, as well as nuts, which also contain a lot of omega-6?

    You should not be afraid of them: first, they are whole foods, which in addition to fatty acids have a lot of other useful things (fiber, for example). Secondly, we are unlikely to eat a lot of nuts or seeds, especially since they contain a large portion of carbohydrates, which we try to avoid.




    Fact Seven: eat animal fats that contain a lot of omega-3



    In fact, the main simple result of a long reading is the answer to the question of what, in fact, you need to eat. In addition to healthy butter, palm, coconut, and olive oil, you need to eat fish-preferably caught, not grown – and farm meat and poultry-from animals that lived a happy life grazed freely in the meadows and felt great.

    It is clear that this requires some effort and additional costs (go still find this farm beef), but the result is clearly worth it: according to scientific data, the time and money spent will turn into health and extra years of life.




    Fact Eight: it is not necessary to rely on supplements


    Some dietitians strongly recommend buying omega-3 supplements to replenish the balance of fatty acids and refer to some scientific data. The problem is that the effectiveness of these capsules is proven, as a rule, on the money of manufacturers. And independent research often refutes this effectiveness.

    There is a large body of research that shows that this does not make much sense (for example, here is a large cohort study, and here is a feature in Forbes summarizing several other works with a similar conclusion). In short, once again, the evidence is clear: no shiny capsules can replace normal healthy food.
    Last edited by Stephanie Motta; 06-02-2020, 01:34 PM.

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