The Skinny on Fats: "The Omega Zone"

I may be late to the party. All the magazines are touting that fats are back in style. They’re correct this time.

The research is in: proper balance of omega-3 fatty acids in your diet can be a game-changer for your health. My fascination with eating the “healthy fats” is not just because of their cardiovascular(heart) benefits, but how these fats can decrease inflammation in your body and can help patients with Fibromyalgia.

I was fortunate to speak with Dr. Barry Sears two weeks ago. Dr. Sears is the author of the series of Zone books. The latest book is called , “ The Omega Zone“, and lauds the benefits of fish oil for your health.

Dr. Sears is a biochemist, not a physician, but he understands biochemistry better than anyone. He notes in his book that by getting the proper balance of Omega-3 fatty acids in your diet, you control inflammation, because these type of fatty acids act as hormones that decrease your insulin response.

Our diet in the U.S. has shifted dramatically from natural foods to processed foods that have longer shelf-life. Even nut butters, which can be very healthy (certain nuts are high in Omega-3 fatty acids), are processed into health liabilities. There are few foods that will clog your arteries or inflame your body as horribly as peanut butter thanks to these saturated trans-fatty acids.

Dr. Sears makes a strong case that these Omega-3 fatty acids cannot only help your heart but ease arthritis. There are special types of fats called eicosanoids that can release the healthy Omega-3 fatty acids into the blood. They act as natural anti-inflammatory substances (think Advil but without it hurting your stomach).

omega fats

Dr. Sears considers fish and supplemental fish oils as the best way to get into the “ Omega Zone”. The “big” fish” in boosting your Omega-3 fatty acids is salmon. The key is to find wild salmon, not the farmed type. I’m also a big fan of getting healthy fat from walnuts, macadamia nuts , avocados and olive oil. Remember, my post a few months ago on The Biblical Diet ? My motto was that if you could find the food a thousand years ago, it was probably good for you.

Here’s a list of the Good and Bad Fats:

Good: olive oil, nuts (walnuts, almonds, macadamia and cashews), avocado.

Bad: soybean oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil and corn oil.

There are specific blood tests that can no be measured to determine if the fats in your blood are in balance. The two blood tests are your Arachidonic acid level and your Eicosonoid levels: this ratio of the two fats will determine your proper balance of fats.

So remember, to be in the Omega Zone eat like a Greek (Mediterranean foods), or like a Scandinavian (salmon is your friend – your edible friend).

- Dr. Dean Mitchell
Mitchell Medical Group, NYC

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