The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Fat
Health Alert #152
You know conventional advice tells you to reduce the fat in your diet. A minority of doctors including myself have been telling the contrary. Following that advice will lead you on a wild goose chase. It will dull your thinking, make you tired and rob your skin, eyes and hair of their healthy luster.
You need fat and should not avoid it. However, the modern world has changed the character of fat – there’s the rub. You have to take action to consume the right kind of fat.
In this letter you’ll learn which fats you need and how to get them. And, which fats you should avoid altogether. I’ll also give you a fat-laden recipe that will boost your good fat intake for a healthier heart and brain.
* Not all Fat Is Created Equal *
I divide dietary fat into 3 groups: omega-3, omega-6, and trans fats. They are the good, the bad, and the ugly of this macronutrient. The first two have their place in your diet.
You need omega-3 and omega 6 fatty acids for good health. You cannot make enough so you must include them in your diet. You need them to build and maintain brain tissue. They are vital structural components of cell membranes. And, you use them to make a variety of hormones known as prostaglandins. Both their amount and ratio in the diet have important
The Good Fat: Omega-3s
Good sources of omega-3s are salmon, avocado, walnuts, olives, and olive oil. Omega-3s, and particularly EPA and DHA, do appear to reduce the risk of dying from Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) and other diseases.
In your modern world the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 has changed to about 20 to 1. All evidence concurs that we evolved on a diet with a much lower ratio of omega-6 to omega-3s.2 In societies still living as hunter-gatherers, the ratio is about 2 to 1. In other words, we eat too little of the 3 variety and too much of the 6 variety.
The Bad Fat: Omega-6s
Omega’s 6s are in animal and plant foods. Although omega-6s are essential to a balanced diet, you only need a modest amount. Too much can cause heart disease, diabetes, obesity, fatigue, inability to concentrate, and memory loss.
Trans fats are different all together. They are a creation of the modern food industry for their convenience. They are the ugly fat that has no place in your diet.
The Ugly Fat: Trans Fats
Trans fats lurk in low fat cookies, cakes, cereal, chips, crackers, and fried fast-food like French fries and chicken nuggets. High intakes of trans-fatty acids interfere with the conversion of ALA to EPA and DHA.3 This is the worst fat you can possibly eat. Avoid it completely.
Native Inuit Americans have a low risk of heart disease despite a diet high in fat and cholesterol. Interest in heart disease protection with omega-3s began with studies of the Inuit. Since the 1970s, the benefits of dietary omega-3s continue to expand.3 Omega 3s reduce the risk of dying from heart disease because they4-7:
• lower blood pressure.
• improve blood lipids.
• decrease serum TG and VLDL-C levels, often by 30% or more.
• lower fasting serum TG.
• reduce the production of VLDL.
Here is a meal loaded with Omega-3 fats. It’s one of my favorite recipes from my The Heart Cure book coming this summer.
Dr. Sears’ Baked Alaskan Salmon Salad
1 bag of spring mixed greens ½ cup of sliced mushrooms
1 small red onion chopped 1 avocado peeled and chopped
¾ cup of chopped walnuts 1 cup of crumbled goat cheese
1 lemon and 1 lime Black pepper
Fresh basil 2 lbs of Alaskan salmon (1/2 lb. per person)
2 tablespoons of cold pressed olive oil 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons of water 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar
½ teaspoon of honey ½ teaspoon of honey
½ teaspoon of gourmet mustard Black Pepper and Basil to taste
In large bowl, add salad dressing ingredients and whisk. Add onion and mushrooms. Put aside.
Drizzle olive oil in a glass baking dish. Place fish in skin down. Squeeze lemon and lime over fish. Season with basil, black pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste. Add a 1/3 cup of burgundy wine. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 30 minutes.
Mix in salad greens and toss to distribute dressing. Add avocado, walnuts and toss again. Serve greens on plate, top with fish and goat cheese. Garnish with lemon and lime.
Al Sears, M.D.
1. Eaton SB, Eaton III, SB, Konner MJ. Palaeolithic nutrition revisited: A
2. FAO/WHO Expert Committee. Fats and oils in human nutrition. Food and Nutrition
3. Bang HO, Dyerberg J, Horne N. The composition of food consumed by Greenland
4. Bang HO, Dyerberg J, Horne N. The composition of food consumed by Greenland
5. Morris MC, Saks F, Rosner B. Does fish oil lower blood pressure? Circulation
6. Mori TA, et al. Docosahexanoic acid but not eicosapentanoic acid lowers ambulatory
7. Nestel PJ, Connor WE, Reardon MF, et al. Suppression by diets rich in fish
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