This Article is About
green leafy vegetables
essential fatty acids
omega 6
heart diseases
omega 3
oily fish
food diet
The Best Fats To Eat
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Fats as they come in whole plant foods are best. Refining concentrates them to levels where it is almost impossible not to over consume them. Take sweet corns for example. It takes twelve or more corncobs to produce a tablespoonful of corn oil. No one would want to eat twelve corncobs, but it would be very easy to add their equivalent in a couple of tablespoonfuls of mayonnaise, which is mainly oil, to a meal and hardly notice it. Nuts, seeds, olives and avocados are delicious examples of natural high-fat plant foods which in moderation can be a healthy part of a plant food diet.

Essential fatty acids

These are Linoleic (Omega 6) acid and Linolenic (Omega 3) acid. It is essential to get them from food because the body cannot make them. They are very important in maintaining both mental and physical health.

Their functions include:

1. Control of factors relating to heart diseases and stroke, such as blood pressure, blood clotting and blood levels of fats including cholesterol.

2. Maintaining the immune system and its functions in healing and in preventing allergies, infections and cancer.

3. Development and maintenance of the brain and nervous system, including memory, intelligence and mental health.

There are plenty of these essential fatty acids in a variety of plant foods, particularly in the oils of nuts and seeds, grains and green leafy vegetables. Vegetable cooking oils are high in Omega 6 fats. Flaxseed, walnuts, pumpkinseed and rapeseed are high in Omega 3. Fish is also high in Omega 3.

Our bodies need five or six times as much of the Omega 6 as the Omega 3. This is the sort of ratio in which they occur in whole plant foods. Problems arise because when foods are refined, the ratio changes. Ordinary vegetable cooking oils are very rich in Omega 6 and the typical Western diet, with its high use of vegetable oils and low use of nuts and seeds, provides far more Omega 6 than is needed.

To re-balance this we are advised to eat more oily fish, but unfortunately they are very prone to the effect of pollution. The best solution is to limit the use of refined oils and choose a whole plant food diet, including plenty of unrefined cereals, nuts, seeds and green leafy vegetables.

Biochemistry note

The essential Omega 6 and Omega 3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated, and the number 3 and 6 refer to the fact that the spaces or double bonds in the unsaturated fatty-acid molecules are at the third or sixth carbon atom. These fats are the ones with special functions in the heart, circulation and brain. The essential linoleic acids both belong to this group. The ideal proportion of Omega 6 to Omega 3 is 5:1 or 6:1. A typical Western diet provides far more Omega 6 than is needed, most of it from refined vegetable oils.

Solution: Avoid refined vegetable oils, and eat whole, natural, plant foods.

Street Talk

Hi Martha, I really like your articles. They are rich and very informative.

  about 1 decade ago
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