[PHNUTR-L] How Omega-6s Usurped Omega-3s in US Diet
Kathrynne Holden, MS, RD
fivestar at nutritionucanlivewith.com
Thu Sep 7 07:13:47 PDT 2006
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Source: Axel F. Bang PR & Marketing
Released: Thu 07-Sep-2006, 09:00 ET
How Omega-6s Usurped Omega-3s in US Diet
Omega-6 fatty acids, used in food processing and prevalent in corn oil,
permeate the American diet and compete metabolically with heart-disease
preventing Omega-3s. A new book, "The Queen of Fats" tells the story of
how this happened, why eating fish for Omega 3 may not benefit most
Americans, and explains what we can do about it.
Newswise — Has a little-known family of polyunsaturated fatty acids
called Omega-6s, which has quietly permeated the Western diet in recent
decades, nullified the impact of heart disease-fighting omega-3s?
According to a new book, The Queen of Fats, Americans now have so many
omega-6s in our bodies that eating fish to bolster our omega-3s may not
do any good. Why? Because these two families of fats compete in our
Or, as Susan Allport, the author of this new landmark book about the
history, science and economics of omega-3s, published by the University
of California Press (September, 2006), puts it: “It is not the fish we
are NOT eating that is our problem, but the oils we ARE eating.”
How have omega-6s saturated the Western diet so completely and quietly?
Ms. Allport’s heavily researched, fact filled book says that most of our
cooking oils are heavily laden with omega-6s (much used corn oil, for
example, has a 46 to 1 ratio of omega-6s to omega-3s; lesser used canola
oil’s ratio, however, is only 2 to 1), and that whatever omega-3s there
are in oils are eliminated if those oils are hydrogenated or partially
hydrogenated to extend the shelf life of foods, as occurs in most food
Also, when farmers feed corn and soybeans (instead of grass) to the
animals we eat, their tissues become full of omega-6s at the expense of
omega-3s. Eggs from chickens fed corn, for instance, have one-tenth the
omega-3s in them as eggs from free-range chickens that eat greens and bugs.
According to Ms. Allport’s research, the out-of-kilter balance between
these two families of fats, one of which is derived from the fats in
green leaves (omega-3s) and the other from seeds (omega-6s), is as much
a culprit as cholesterol, saturated and trans fats for our country’s
epidemics of heart disease, obesity and other chronic health problems.
Omega-6s are not bad, she cautions; in fact they are absolutely
essential for health. We just have too many of them.
Ms. Allport writes at a lively pace about how scientists, in just the
past two decades, have discovered how omega-3s are essential for our
eyes to see and our brains to function, and she also focuses on policy
changes that are needed. For example, most people are unaware of the
omega-6/omega-3 problem because the USDA’s dietary guidelines do not
mention it. The American Heart Association does not distinguish between
these two families of fats.
Short of overhauling some aspects of the food processing and vegetable
oil industries, which she feels ultimately are necessary, Ms. Allport
suggests we should consume oils and fats that have a healthier balance
of omega-3s and omega-6s and eat foods that are rich in omega-3s,
including greens, flax seed, fish, and free range (or omega-3 enriched)
meat, dairy products, and eggs. She has a handy time line of the
important omega-3 discoveries (from their use in brain function to
prevention of arrhythmia), 30 pages of medical and science journal
citations, interviews with researchers and a handy glossary of terms.
Kathrynne Holden, MS, RD < fivestar at nutritionucanlivewith.com >
"Ask the Parkinson Dietitian" http://www.parkinson.org/
"Eat well, stay well with Parkinson's disease"
"Parkinson's disease: Guidelines for Medical Nutrition Therapy"
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