Posts Tagged ‘Omega 3 fatty acids’


June 28, 2010


No, I’m not complaining about fast food, whatever that means. The thing that makes the standard American Diet so sad has mainly to do with shelf life: foods sitting on the supermarket shelf with an expiration date 5 years hence. That means that in 5 years, it will still be nearly as nutritious as it was when shipped from the food factory.

How can that be? Well, most of the nutrition is already gone when it was shipped from the food factory.

First, canned foods; if you cook something in a can until you’re absolutely certain there’s not a single surviving bacteria, you have also destroyed much of the nutrition that initially went into the can.

Second, refined foods; refined sugar doesn’t spoil. It is so rich that it kills bacteria on contact. It takes a bit longer to kill us, but it will, eventually. Refined grains, similarly, are almost pure starch, which converts into sugar as you chew that delicious bread or white rice. It’s equivalent to eating candy. Think diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. That’s worse than no nutrition at all

Your supermarket offers a wide variety of vegetable oils, all refined with the single exception of extra virgin olive oil. The rest of them come mostly from seeds with a balance of two oils, called omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. These are classed as essential fatty acids, meaning that we must have them in our diet; our bodies cannot make them from other materials.

The important thing about these 2 fats is that they should be balanced in roughly equal proportions for our health. Omega-6 fatty acids alone cause inflammation, as in cardiovascular disease. So guess which oil is removed in the refining process. Right, they remove the omega 3 fatty acid, leaving pure omega 6. The fact is that the vast majority of Americans suffer from a serious deficiency of omega-3 fatty acids.

That’s the principal culprit behind our #1 killer- Cardiovascular disease. But the refined vegetable oil can sit on the shelf for many months without spoiling, because the omega-3 fatty acid, which spoils quickly, has been removed.

Third, packaged foods; Read the label: 5 or 10 or 20 ingredients, mostly sounding very technical, some unpronounceable. What purpose do they serve?: Long shelf life, attractive appearance, convenient texture, quick preparation. Many of these foods contain some form of glutamate. (Remember MSG; a deadly brain toxin). These come, disguised under a dozen names, to “enhance flavor”. Doesn’t “natural flavoring” sound innocent? Avoid them all like the plague they cause.

In summary, these foods retain what nutrition they have because they have very little real nutrition to begin with.

So let’s move through the supermarket to the stuff that’s refrigerated. Perhaps that will be closer to nature and more nutritious. Milk, long touted as the best nutrition for growing children and everybody. Away back in the 1800s, Louis Pasteur invented pasteurization – for wine, or was it for beer? Anyway it stopped the fermentation process and provided longer shelf life. Just a little heat to kill most of whatever provided the fermentation.

But when you do this with milk, the heat will ruin its nutritional value. Some people can digest it and some can’t. Millions of colicky bottle babies live in misery until they start on solid foods. Pasteurization is required by law. It extends shelf life, and permits dairy farmers to be a bit careless about hygiene, but it isn’t nutritious for most of us. Raw, unpasteurized milk, even after it sours, is better food than pasteurized milk.

Now surely the meat we buy fresh in the market is as nature made it? No, it isn’t. For perhaps a million years our ancestors hunted animals, mostly ruminants: cattle of all kinds. Ruminants have a complicated digestive designed to digest grass and various green leaves.

Ruminants can even survive on the brown stubble, hay or straw, when the growing season ends. But they were not designed to eat anything as rich as grain. Fed on grain, beef cattle get fat and produce tender, juicy beef, but it makes them unhealthy. And the meat isn’t nutritious.

I’ll guess that 95% of the beef produced in America comes from feed lots. Cattle spend their first 18 months eating green grass and the next 18 months in a feedlot, where they grow to a size which would take 3 years in a pasture. They are fed growth hormones to speed growth, grain that fattens them quickly, and antibiotics to prevent the epidemics that would naturally sweep through a herd of unhealthy cattle, crammed together in a feedlot. The cattle are unhealthy because of their unnatural diet.

Because of the antibiotics, feedlots are a source of trillions of antibiotic-resistant bacteria which move on, airborne or in water supplies, to infect us. That is a growing epidemic today- infections which won’t yield to the usual antibiotics and are progressively becoming resistant to more and more of the newer antibiotics.

But back to nutrition. Grass-fed beef provides the animal versions of omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids, in an ideal balance. Grain-fed cattle provide only the omega-6 fatty acids, which, without the omega-3 Fatty acids in balance, cause inflammation in the cardiovascular system.

OK, so the beef is unsafe. Surely the answer is fish, right? Well, wild fish do provide an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. But there aren’t enough fish in the sea to feed 7 billion people. The fish from fish-farms, fed on grains, lack the all-important omega-3 oils. There’s another hazard with fish- they accumulate highly toxic mercury. Bigger fish, eating smaller fish, concentrate the mercury. Smaller, wild, cold water fish are your safest source of omega-3 fatty acids with the least mercury. Wild salmon is a good source, and sardines, despite being canned and cooked are a good, cheap source.

My solution? I get grass-fed meats, shipped frozen, from I eat canned sardines and frozen wild salmon, and fresh and frozen organic vegetables and fruits. Will I live to 120? I’ll let you know when I get there.