Friday, March 13, 2009
Essential Fatty Acids
Lee made some comments about french fries for the depressed, and attributed salt as the mood elevator. Hyponatremia (low salt) CAN cause a whole pile of medical problems including dpression. There are better ways to get salt. A much more important focus on diet, though is oil.
Essential fatty acids are called that because you HAVE to have them and your body can't make them. There are two main groups of EFA's---Omega 6, and Omega 3. (Omega 9's are necessary, but aren't called 'essential' because you can manufacture them yourself. Eat olives.)
Ideally, the ratio between 6's and 3's should be around 4:1. The american diet has evolved though, through 'convenience' foods; the levels of omega 6's have doubled since 1940, and many people's ratio is 30:1. So what???
Too much Omega 3 is fine, though you still need omega 6's. Your body can utilize lots of 3's in 6's place. But too much omega 6 leads to heart disease, cancer, asthma, diabetes, depression, obesity, arthritis and breast cancer.
This goes a long way in explaining why the Mediterraneans are much more healthy than Americans. Foods rich in Omega 6's are safflower oil, sunflower oil, corn oil; hydrogenated oils concentrate it further. Trans fats. Meat is very rich in Omega 6... Oils that can get really hot for frying. Consuming sugar or alcohol makes metabolizing 6's difficult.
Good news---omega 3's can displace omega 6's. Seafoods, cold pressed canola oil (heat destrys it so think salad dressing or margarine substitute) flax seed, brazil nuts, dark green vegetables and kale are all goods sources of omega 3's.
I learned long ago that diet is sort of like religion and politics. People don't want to hear about it unless they agree with you. The take away here is, eat whatever you like, but if you like french fries, order a small once in awhile and eat plenty of the omega 3 sources.