The Skinny on Fat

Nutrition is not only a big part of getting and staying in shape but good health overall. For many years dietary fat was considered the enemy of health. These days we know better. All fats are not created equal. In fact there are some fats that are not only good for us but can actually improve our over all health and well being. Some of the best fats are called Omega 3s and can easily be added to our daily nutrition plan in the form of dietary supplements. But which ones do I take? What do I look for? Read on and we’ll fill you in.

There are three main types of Omega 3 fatty acids, the first two being EPA and DHA, both of which are found in cold-water fish, such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel. The third type is ALA, which is found in flaxseed oils, dark green leafy vegetables, and some vegetable oils.  Although you can get DHA and EPA from plant seed oils such as flaxseeds, you do not necessarily get much or any of these compounds even if you take flax oil every day! The Omega 3s in flax oil and other plant oils do NOT contain DHA and EPA, but a ‘precursor’ to DHA and EPA in the form of alpha linolenic acid (ALA).

In order for your brain and heart to get the benefit of DHA and EPA, your body must convert ALA to those compounds. However, your organs must be functioning smoothly for this conversion to happen, which may not be the case with the elderly or anyone whose health is a little suspect.  Even then, you convert less than 20% of the ALA to these important substances. And so, you take a whole bottle of flax oil to acquire a small percentage of usable DHA and EPA. Consequently, the only way to obtain sufficient quantities is to get it from fish oil (not cod ‘liver’ oil, something completely different, but oil directly from the flesh of fish). The problem is the quality of the oil, as well as contaminants (such as mercury), etc.

Luckily we can buy Omega 3-6 products that contain Molecularly Distilled oils*, (which is a true indicator of purity when it comes to grading the best fish oils). This distillation process removes all the contaminants from the fish oil leaving only the desired compounds behind.

So, remember some fats are good for us. Supplementing your diet with fish oil can be a simple step to improving your over all health. High quality fish oil is a product you should invest in if you are serious about taking Omega 3-6 oils. They can be a bit more expensive than typical oils you find in health food stores, but you get what you pay for… you either can ingest a whole bottle of flaxseed oil to acquire 20% of its usable contents, or pay twice as much to get 5 times the contents. And remember to be wary of cheap fish oil supplements; they have not been distilled to remove contaminants!

So there you have it, the skinny on some of the good fats.



*P.S. Check out this web-site for reviews of some high quality fish-oil products.

2 Responses

  1. Options for those of us allergic to fish?

    I take spirulina regularly. I have also found an algea based DHA (prenatal supplement). I also take flax seed oil and grind flax seed for my smoothies.

  2. Hey Steve,

    As I stated in the article, Flax oil is good, but a quality fish oil is probably more efficient if you want to be sure you are getting your DHA / EPA needs met. Either way, it sounds like you are making some very healthy choices with your Personal Eating Plan.


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