Heart-Healthy Fats: 5 Steps to Balance Omega Fatty Acids

Heart-Healthy Fats: 5 Steps to Balance Omega Fatty Acids
omega 3's
Brittany Wright

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the U.S. It’s undeniably an important topic of health discussion and research, with leaders such as the USDA making the following recommendations for dietary interventions:

  1. Avoid high-cholesterol foods
  2. Choose low-fat or no-fat animal products
  3. Replace butter and lard with plant-based oils such as margarine

Dietitians and medical professionals have been offering these recommendations to hospital and long-term care patients again and again for years. However, recent scientific research has found that this advice may be misguided.

We know that heart disease is the number one cause of death in Americans, however the correlation between cholesterol and heart disease is unclear. Based on the study above, having high cholesterol above the age of 60 years old does not directly correlate with developing heart disease. In the study, those with high low-density lipoprotein (LDL), previously termed the “bad” cholesterol, lived as long and longer than those with low LDL.

Additional research is showing that a major cause of heart disease is likely to be inflammation rather than blood lipid levels. Inflammation is the body’s response to injury or infection. Without inflammation, cholesterol is left to circulate freely, and unobstructed. While inflammation can have several causes, diet plays a large role.

Understanding Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFAs)

One of the main dietary culprits behind inflammation is the imbalanced intake of omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs).

Both omega-3 (also referred to as n-3) and omega-6 (n-6) PUFAs compete for the same conversion enzymes within your body in order to be metabolized. This means that an excess of one results in less conversion of the other. Omega-6 fatty acids are pro-inflammatory, while omega-3 fatty acids are neutral. An increase in omega-6 fatty acids leads to higher levels of inflammation, while an increase in omega-3 fatty acids leads to a decrease in inflammation due to decreased conversion of omega-6s.

Balancing Omega-6 and Omega-3

Most fats we eat contain both omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, though the ratio varies from food to food.

Your prehistoric ancestors ate in a way which provided their overall PUFA intake mostly in a balanced ratio of 1:1. The main source of dietary fat during this time was seafood, which contains almost exclusively omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-6—rich foods, primarily …read more
Source: Deepak Chopra

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