Omega-3 fats (and particularly fish oil capsules) have been on the defensive lately due to a study that demonstrated they don’t protect against heart disease. Similarly, high doses of vitamin D aren’t proving beneficial either. And you know what? You should still get plenty of both, because in my opinion, those “findings” are bogus.
Let me explain…
Your body needs Omega-3 fats along with several vitamins and minerals to stay healthy. When you deprive it of these essentials through a poor diet, you get sick. When you get enough of them, you don’t. And the only thing that the aforementioned study showed is that higher than normal doses of Omega-3’s don’t protect against heart disease – a condition that might have been caused by something else.
In other words, if you have a heart attack because you smoke, and you continue to smoke after the fact, you shouldn’t expect to prevent a second one by upping your intake of Omega-3 fats. Make sense?
With that said, I believe that in order to truly understand just how important these essential fats are, they’d have to run a study where they purposefully deprived them in a group of patients. Then, measure the number of cardiac events that occurred in that group vs. a group that got their needs met.
Of course, they could never do that for moral and ethical reasons. But hypothetically speaking, if they did, you’d never hear another word about Omega-3 fats being hype (or fish oil capsules being a waste of money). So, the next time someone tells you otherwise – you’d be well served to ignore them.
Now, while we’re on the subject of Omega-3’s, let’s take a moment to discuss just why they’re so important – critical, in fact.
In a nutshell, they keep the membranes of your cells fluid and stable. You see – the linings of your cells are made up of a mixture of omega-3 and omega-6 fats (among other things such as cholesterol). And in order for those membranes to be healthy and functioning, they must consist of the right ratio – the optimal being around 3:1.
Unfortunately, the average American has a ratio as high as 20:1. This makes their cell membranes rigid, creates inflammation throughout the body, and leads to heart disease and a host of other ailments. And the cause of all this is a high consumption of vegetable oils (e.g. corn, sunflower) – oils that have been recommended by the experts for decades as a substitute for butter. And while the former are low in saturated fat, they throw off that 6:3 ratio and wreak havoc on our health.
Now, without going into too much detail, the main takeaway is this: up your intake of Omega-3 fatty acids as much as possible. Eat fish and grass fed beef on a regular basis and pop those fish oil capsules if you’re not getting enough of the former. On the same token, be sure to limit – or better still – entirely avoid vegetable oil and foods cooked with them (fried, fast food is the worst culprit). That’s the best way to get your ratio as close to 3:1 as possible.
And a final word of warning: apparently, you can’t offset a diet high in Omega-6 fats by consuming higher amounts of Omega-3’s. Again, you have to limit the former. It’s also worth pointing out that maybe that’s why studies have failed to demonstrate the latter’s ability to prevent new cardiac events. Perhaps the study participants had an unhealthy diet altogether. After all, the experts are still recommending we consume these vegetable oils in mass quantities.
So, let’s wrap it up: more Omega-3’s, less Omega-6’s if you want to keep your ticker beating strong and avoid all kinds of diseases. Now, go eat some fish!