Are You Eating Inflammation-Promoting Oils?

July 6, 2015

By Anna Varriano

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In this month’s post, I’m going to share some inflammation-busting tips that are included in my pre-recorded webinar, The Skinny on Fats: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.  If you already own this webinar, this post will be a good review for you. In the webinar I separate fact from fiction regarding which fats and oils promote health and which ones do not. Fats are one of the most important yet most misdunderstood topics in nutrition, and being misinformed may lead to serious health consequences. If you don’t own this webinar yet, click here to order it. It may possibly be the best $20 you’ll ever spend on your health.

One of the topics that I cover in the webinar is that of Essential Fatty Acids, or EFAs. Specifically, I present some important information regarding the EFAs omega-3 and omega-6. EFAs have very critical roles in the body. They are referred to as ‘essential’ because the body cannot manufacturer them from anything else, so we must get them through our diet.

While both of these EFAs are critical to our overall health, numerous problems can arise when we consume too many omega-6s and not enough omega-3s. Unfortunately, this is a very common scenario in most people’s diets, and the result is that it sets the stage for inflammation, which is a key factor in virtually any health issue you can think of, including:
• Increased risk of cancer and cardiovascular diseases
• Immune system dysfunction
• Disruption of hormone production
• Depressed learning ability
• Reproductive and digestive disorders
• Joint pain as well as any other aches and pains
• Compromised growth

It’s All About The Ratio

omega 3 omega 6

In a perfect whole food world, a health-boosting anti-inflammatory ratio of omega-6s to omega-3s would be around 3 to 1. In reality, it is more like 30 to 1. This seriously out-of-whack omega-6 to omega- 3 ratio is really bad news.

How did this imbalance happen? To answer this question, you just have to look at the above bar chart. The average grocery store and home pantry shelf are commonly both chock-a-block full of highly refined and processed oils that are high in omega-6s. The shelves are also loaded with packaged goods made with these oils, which include corn oil, cottonseed oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, and soy oil. These oils contain significant amounts of omega-6 fatty acids and virtually no omega-3s.

a big fat problem

An additional concern with corn, cottonseed, and soy oil is that these crops are genetically modified (GM), and emerging research suggest that GM crops may be responsible for the increase in many escalating health issues – and don’t even get me started on “hearty-healthy” canola oil (another GM crop) – I talk about canola oil in the webinar too.

Correcting The Imbalance

omega 3 foodsThe good news is that you can turn this inflammation-promoting imbalance around. Here are four tips to help you do so:

  1. Avoiding the use of the omega-6-loaded oils, such as those mentioned earlier, when making your own meals and snacks. This is pretty straight forward since you have control over what oils you do your own food prep/cooking with. I offer some tips on which oils to use for different types of food prepping/cooking in The Skinny on Fats webinar.
  2. Avoiding processed, packaged, and fast foods since most of them are made with omega-6-loaded oils. This means you need to start reading labels and asking questions when you eat out, especially if you eat out a lot. Choosing more whole foods and fewer packaged and prepared foods will significantly decrease the amount of unhealthy oils you eat.
  3. Adding more omega-3 rich foods to your meals and snacks. Examples of omega-3 rich foods include: chia seeds, ground flax seeds, flax seed oil, raw, fresh walnuts (shelled or unshelled – and if they smell rancid, do not eat them!), fatty cold-water fish including salmon, mackerel, sardines and anchovies, and meat and dairy products from pastured (grass-fed and roaming) animals. Stay tuned for my Video of the Month where I’ll be talking flax and chia seeds!
  4. Daily supplementation with a high-quality omega-3 supplement. For most of us, the omega-6 to omega-3 imbalance is too big to turn around with food alone, and this is where omega-3 supplements are critical. I’ll be sharing a lot of important information about omega-3 supplements in a few weeks in my Product of The Month post; however, I’ll mention one important bit of information now. If you are taking a fish-based omega-3 supplement, choose one made with smaller fish such as sardines and anchovies. The smaller the fish, the lower it is on the food chain, so the less contaminated it will be.

I hope you’ll consider taking some inflammation-busting action with one or all four of these tips.

Take control of what you can!

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