Healthy Fats and Oils
"The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet and in the cause and prevention of disease."
FDA moves to ban trans fats from food.
See also our page on coconut oil.
Hydrogenated oils such as margarine have a higher melting point than body temperature. They melt at about 112ºF.
Coconut oil melts at 76ºF.
Most animal and vegetable fats and oils are long-chain fatty acids. Coconut oil and palm kernel oil are medium chain fatty acids, and so these fatty acids rarely end up as body fat. Instead they are burned by the body for energy.
People who eat butter have half the risk of heart disease compared to those
who eat margarine.
The best olive oil is called "Extra Virgin" and "First Cold Pressed".
There has been a 10 fold increase in macular degeneration in the past 30 years. Much of this is due to the consumption of vegetable oils.
Heating vegetable oils for 30 minutes creates a chemical called HNE (4-hydroxy-trans-2-nonenal) that is related to the formation of atherosclerosis, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, Huntington's, and liver disease. Think of this the next time you eat French fries or other deep fried food. The oil has probably been heated for days.
Assuming you are not pregnant, a "pot belly" is likely caused by many pounds of dried fecal matter in the colon and/or an enlarged liver containing many pounds of fats/oils that the body could not use.
Fat does not make you fat. Glucose made from excess carbohydrates is converted to fat and stored in your fat cells, making you fat. If you want to stay slim, avoid sugar, high fructose corn syrup, white flour, and other refined carbohydrates.
It is the experience of Gerson Therapy that flax oil is the ONLY oil cancer patients should eat. Watch this video by Charlotte Gerson where she describes cancer tumors growing back when the cancer patient eats other fats and oils. So the remainder of this page is for people who want to prevent cancer, not for people who have it.
It is a good idea to eat some fats with each meal, because they make you feel "sated" or "full" and help transport fat-soluble nutrients into the body. Healthy saturated fats include coconut oil and organic butter (or ghee made from organic butter). We emphasize "organic butter" because many pesticides are fat soluble and become concentrated in butter and cheese. In our opinion, the healthiest diet for most people will be the ketogenic diet, which minimizes the consumption of refined sugars and carbohydrates, while providing abundant cellular energy by means of healthy fats.
It is good to eat three to four tablespoons of coconut oil daily. Coconut oil may be the healthiest oil for cooking, followed closely by olive oil. Most cooking oils break down at about 350°F. In general, it is better to cook longer at lower temperatures so that oils used in cooking are not damaged. Butter and ghee are also good for cooking.
Moderation is a virtue. The overall idea with fat is not so much to eat a "low fat" diet, but rather to replace the bad fats with good fats, and to eat about equal quantities of omega-3 and omega-6 oils.
Good fats include coconut oil, butter, extra virgin olive oil (omega-6), and flaxseed oil (omega-3). Flaxseed oil is highly unstable, must be kept refrigerated, in an enclosed container so that it is not exposed to oxygen, and in darkness. Flaxseed oil is consumed as a dietary supplement and/or in salad dressing (you might use half flax oil and half olive oil in your salad dressing, together with apple cider vinegar or lemon juice, water, herbs and xylitol). Actually, freshly ground flax seeds are a better alternative to flax oil. Put one to two tablespoons of ground flax seeds in your smoothie, or soak the flax seeds in water overnight and add the soaked seeds and water to your smoothie (the blender or Vitamix should be able to grind the soaked seeds). Other healthy oils include fish oils, palm and sesame oils. Coconut oil and palm kernel oil are two of the best natural remedies for infections due to the medium chain fatty acids that they contain.
Bad fats are the modern refined vegetable oils produced at high temperatures (soy, corn, safflower, cottonseed, canola, etc.), hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils, and all oils heated to high temperatures during frying. For more information on fat, two good web sites that we highly recommend are http://www.udoerasmus.com/articles/udo/fthftk.htm and http://www.westonaprice.org
You may have read about a fat called Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) that is reported to reduce cancer tumors by 50%. The artificial form of CLA that is available in stores is unhealthy to consume. The only healthy form of CLA is produced by grass-fed cows and is found in their meat and milk.
From a cancer prevention point of view, the fat you really need to avoid is excess body fat due to the estrogen that these fat cells produce. Eating a balanced nutrient-dense diet including an abundance of raw foods and healthy fats, regular exercise plus unplugging your TV should help you control your body fat.
If you are eating a healthy diet and are 10 pounds or more overweight, the problem is probably in your metabolism. It is not just what you eat, but what your body does with what you eat that produces health. We suggest you try the 28 day program offered in The Fast Metabolism Diet: Eat More Food and Lose More Weight by Haylie Pomroy.
About Omega-3 and Omega-6 Essential Fatty Acids
The omega-3 and omega-6 oils are the essential fatty acids (EFAs). There are omega-9 oils, but these are not essential because the body can produce omega-9 oils from other oils. However, omega-3 and omega-6 oils MUST come from your diet because the body cannot make them. Not only must you eat both of these oils, but you must eat them in approximately the right proportion relative to each other. Too much omega-3 will lead to omega-6 deficiency, and too much omega-6 will lead to omega-3 deficiency. The human brain contains omega-3 and omega-6 EFAs in a ratio of 1:1. For a healthy person, eating these oils in a 1:1 ratio may be ideal. However, the present day typical diet has these oils in a ratio of about 1:10 due to a preponderance of vegetable oils in the diet that contain virtually no omega-3 and lots of omega-6. For therapeutic purposes, to restore balance in the body a ratio of 2:1 is useful.
The EFAs are MAJOR nutrients needed in tablespoon amounts each day (adults need about one tablespoon for every 50 pounds of body weight). If you eat enough of the omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids in proper balance, then they are used by the body to produce energy (improving strength and endurance, plus faster recovery from fatigue), they improve the quality of your blood so that oxygen and nutrients are transported more efficiently, and the mind is more alert. Animals also benefit from eating a proper balance of omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids, though the quantity they need will vary according to body size and other factors.
Other benefits from consuming the omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids in proper balance include:
If your diet is insufficient in either omega-3 or omega-6 oils, then you will experience a range of deficiency diseases or symptoms. Omega-3 deficiency is probably the most common nutrient deficiency in the modern world. Omega-6 deficiency is rising as a result of people eating low fat diets.
Ratio of Omega-3 EFAs / Omega-6 EFAs in Edible Oils
However, too much omega-3 can also cause health problems. A healthy balance between omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids must be achieved. Regarding the balance between omega-3 and omega-6, Udo Erasmus has concluded that 3.5 : 1 is too high and the modern diet containing 1 : 10 is too low. He suggests that for therapeutic purposes the upper limit should be about 2.5 : 1 with 2 : 1 being optimum. This allows a little extra omega-3 oil to balance previous excess omega-6, plus it balances omega-6 coming from foods. For baking, canola oil has a neutral taste and its ratio (1 : 2) between omega 3 and 6 is reasonably healthy. The health benefits of the Mediterranean diet are largely due to eating olive and fish oils.
(It is the experience of Gerson Therapy that flax oil is the ONLY oil cancer patients should eat. Flax oil has a ratio of more than 4:1, which indicates how out of balance cancer patients have become. Other imbalances in cancer patients include too much sodium relative to potassium, too much sugar, and too much animal protein.)
This is why we recommend a half and half mix of flax oil and extra virgin (green) olive oil for use in salad dressings, etc. From the above table we see:
By combining equal quantities of flax oil and olive oil, the resulting combination oil has a ratio of approximately 2 : 1 between omega-3 and omega-6 oils.
Conversion of Oils by the Human Body
The basic omega-3 essential fatty acid is alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). There are two omega-3 derivative oils found in fish oils. These are EPA and DHA, and both are required by the human body. The body has the capability to convert ALA into EPA and DHA when required. The conversion process is facilitated by having lots of ALA for the body to work with. If you wish to bypass the conversion process by eating fish oil, then Dr. Williams recommends that you eat tinned sardines. Sardines are short-lived fish that do not have time to accumulate mercury such as is found in larger fish. Also, eating sardines bypasses the many potential problems involved in extracting fish oils that can significantly reduce its healthfulness. Plus, sardines are one of the best sources of nucleotides, an anti-aging nutrient with many health benefits.
Soaked chia seeds and flax seeds are digestible. Chia and flax seeds contain about three times as much omega 3 as omega 6. Hemp seeds contain more omega 6 than omega 3. Flax seeds are the least expensive of the three. Just soak the seeds for 24 hours in a glass of water and then add them plus the water to your smoothie. We find brown flax more digestible than golden flax.
The basic omega-6 essential fatty acid is linoleic acid (LA). Given enough LA to start with, the body converts LA into GLA, DGLA, and AA in various tissues, according to need.
Vitamins (B3, B6, C) and minerals (zinc, magnesium) are necessary for this conversion to take place.
Conversion between omega-3 and omega-6 does not take place in the body. This is why BOTH are considered ESSENTIAL.
"Dietary omega-3 fatty acids are incorporated into cellular membranes of all tissues. The extent of incorporation into tissue membranes is dependent on dietary intake. The enrichment of membranes with omega-3 fatty acids can modulate cellular signaling events, membrane protein function and gene expression." - Marc E. Surette, Ph.D.
Chemotherapy kills more brain cells than cancer cells. "Chemo brain" is found to respond to DHA and EPA. If you have trouble digesting fish oil, you might try Vectomega which offers purified DHA and EPA.
From "Saturated Fats and the Kidneys" by Mary G. Enig, PhD. "the conversion of the flax oil-type omega-3 fatty acid (alpha-linolenic acid) to the fish oil-type omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) is enhanced when the diet contains saturated fat such as coconut oil. This conversion is hindered when there is extra omega-6 oils in the diet.4" 4. Gerster, Int J Vitam Nutr Res 1998;68:159
About Omega Oils
Fats and oils are chains of carbon atoms. These carbon atoms link to each other and can also link to oxygen and hydrogen (in other words, fats and oils are hydrocarbons). With saturated fat, all possible links for hydrogen atoms are occupied by hydrogen atoms. With unsaturated fats, some of the links are still available.
Sometimes there is a double bond between two of the carbon atoms. A monounsaturated fat has one double bond. A polyunsaturated fat has multiple double bonds.
Omega-3 is the name of a family of polyunsaturated fatty acids. In this family, the first double bond is between the third and fourth carbon atoms as counted from from the methyl end, hence the name Omega-3 or N-3. The word omega comes from "alpha and omega" with "alpha" representing the beginning and "omega" the end.
Omega-6 is also the name of a family of polyunsaturated fatty acids. All fatty acids in the omega-6 family contain their first double bond between the 6th and 7th carbon atoms as counted from the methyl end, hence the name Omega-6 or N-6.
For more information read:
Enig, Mary G., Know Your Fats: The Complete Primer for Understanding the Nutrition of Fats, Oils and Cholesterol, Bethesda Press, 2000.
Erasmus, Ph.D., Udo, Fats that Heal, Fats that Kill, Alive Books, 1993.
Sears, Ph.D., Barry, Omega Rx Zone: The Miracle of the New High-Dose Fish Oil (The Zone), Mass Market Paperback, 2004.
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