functional, holistic remedies for modern folks

Information about fats gets pretty confusing for most of us. Here, I will attempt to simplify some important facts to keeps us all informed.

There are four types of fatty acids, based on how many of their carbon bondsare paired with hydrogen:

1. Saturated Fats: They are solid at room temperature such as butter, coconut & palm oils and animal fats.  They are fully loaded with hydrogen atoms forming straight chains. They should make up no more than 10% of your caloric intake.

2. Trans Fatty Acids Fats (Bad Fat) - Avoid these completely because they have been shown to increase the artery-clogging cholesterol LDL, and cause breat cancer.  Trans fats are created when processed vegetable oils are hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated.

Unsaturated Fats: They have lost at least one of their pairs of hydrogen atoms from their carbon chain, resulting in molecules that kink or bend at each double bond. The more hydrogen pairs that are missing, the more bent the molecules. The more bent the molecules, the more space they occupy, thereby making them liquid. There are two varieties of unsaturated fats:
3.Monounsaturated Fats (Good Fat): Missing one pair of hydrogens. These fats help protect against heart disease by lowering LDL (bad cholesterol) and raising HDL (good cholesterol). The best source is extra virgin olive oil. Other sources include olives, almonds, peanuts, pecans, hazelnuts, avocados and pumpkin and sesame seeds. 
4.Polyunsaturated Fats (PUFAs, Bad & Good Fats): Missing more than one pair of hydrogens. Examples are vegetable oils.

Most vegetable oils high in PUFA, whereas most animal fats are high in saturated and monounsaturated fats (except for palm, coconut, and olive oils). Most people get way too much non-nutritious polyunsaturated omega 6 fat in the form of highly refined vegetable oils. This throws of their optimum balance of omega 3 to omega 6 oils. The desired ratio is 1:1. PUFA are the source of essential fatty acids. You can get them from whole foods such as 100% whole sheat, brown rice and other whole grains, nuts, seeds, and beans, especially soybeans, sunflower seeds and walnuts.

Omega 3 with EPA and DHA have exceptional health benefits, even though it's technically polyunsaturated fats. They reduce your risk of heart diesase, type 2 diabetes, some kinds of cancers, arthritis, depression and protection againt many other painful and serious diseases. 

Best sources of omega 3 with EPA and DHA are salmon, mackerel, herring, tuna, trout, anchovies and krill oil (see below).

All fats, bad or good, have 9 calories per gram. So when you consume bacon fat (bad) vs. olive oil (good), you are getting the same amount of calories.

Saturated and monounsaturated fats are more easily used by your body than polyunsaturated fats.

This is why most fish oil supplements have such a short shelf life, and many are already oxidized before they hit the bottle. Consuming oxidized fats can do your body more harm than good.

When you ingest too many PUFAs, they are increasingly incorporated into your cell membranes. Because these fats are unstable, your cells become fragile and prone to oxidation, which leads to all sorts of health problems, such as atherosclerosis.

The ideal ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fats is 1:1, but the typical Western diet is between 1:20 and 1:50. Both omega-3 and omega-6 fats are PUFAs and they're both essential to your health, but when omega-6 is consumed in excess, it become problematic.

As a group, when fat consumed in the wrong ratios, they tend to stimulate inflammatory processes in your body, rather than inhibit them.  You need some inflammation to protect yourself from infections and trauma, and PUFAs help you mount these defenses.  However, too many PUFAs contribute to chronic inflammation, which causes all sorts of problems over the long-term. Inflammation is at the source of just about every chronic disease we see today.


Omega-3 Fats

Plant Based
: The shorter-chain form of omega-3 is alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), the only omega-3 found in plants (except for some algae). Foods rich in ALA include flaxseed oil (53 percent), canola oil (11 percent), English walnuts (9 percent), and soybean oil (7 percent). ALA is considered essential because your body can't make it, so you need it in your diet—or its long-chain derivatives.

  •  krill oilAnimal Based: The longer-chain forms of omega-3 are found mostly in animals and they are eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acids (EPA and DHA)  and are highly unsaturated, mainly found in fish, shellfish and krill. DHA is the primary structural component of your brain and retina, and EPA is its precursor. Your body can make some EPA and DHA from short-chain ALA, but does so inefficiently. Recent studies suggest less than one percent of ALA is converted, if you are consuming the typical Western diet. DHA is found in cod liver oil, fatty fish, and in smaller concentrations in the organs and fats of land animals. 

    Omega-6 Fats

    The shorter-chain form of omega-6 is linoleic acid (LA), which is the most prevalent PUFA in the Western diet, is abundant in corn oil, sunflower oil, soybean oil and canola oil.

    • The longer-chain form of omega-6 is arachidonic acid (AA), which is an important constituent of cell membranes and a material your body uses to make substances that combat infection, regulate inflammation, promote blood clotting, and allow your cells to communicate. AA is found in liver, egg yolks, animal meats and seafood.

    Fats: Understanding the Essentials

    "Essential fatty acids" (EFAs) is a term referring to the PUFAs your body needs but cannot produce (or convert from other fats), so they must be obtained from your diet. Traditionally, only two fats were considered "essential"—ALA (an omega-3 fat) and LA (an omega-6 fat). However, we now know it's the long-chain derivativesAA, (omega-6), DHA (omega-3), and EPA(omega-3)—that your body needs the most.

    DHA and EPA: The "Anti-Inflammatory Fats"

    Scientific studies have uncovered a number of important health benefits from omega-3 fats, and it's looking more like it's DHA and EPA that are responsible for those benefits, rather than ALA. Science suggests that omega-3s offer the following benefits to your health:

    Healthier, stronger bones

    Protecting your tissues and organs from inflammation

    Improved mood regulation

    Brain and eye development in babies

    Reduced risk of Parkinson's disease

    Reduced risk of Alzheimer's disease

    Reduced risk of death from ALL causes

    Relief from Dry Eye Syndrome

    Prevention of vascular complications from type 2 diabetes

    Peripheral artery disease


    Preventing postpartum depression

    Reducing symptoms of lupus erythematosus and other autoimmune diseases

    Preventing premature birth

    Multiple sclerosis

    Combating cancer

    In rheumatoid arthritis, EPA/DHA supplementation has been shown to reduce joint stiffness and soreness and improve flexibility.

    And for asthma, a study involving fish oil supplementation for asthmatic children (along with improved diet) resulted in better airway function and reduced need for asthma medications, without side effects.

    Studies have revealed that vegetable oils actually increase your risk of cancer after a period of about five years, and may increase your risk of heart disease as well. Atherosclerosis is NOT caused by the amount of cholesterol carried by your LDL, but by oxidative damage to weak cell membranes, resulting from a diet too high in PUFAs and too low in saturated fats.


    And the opposite can be said of diets rich in EPA, which have been scientifically shown to:

        • 1. Lower lipid and triglyceride levels in your blood
        • 2. Decrease blood viscosity
        • 3. Reduce platelet aggregation, thereby reducing the likelihood of a clot 
          4. Reduce your changes of heart attack

    Antiarrhythmic: counteracting or preventing cardiac arrhythmia

    Antithrombotic: tending to prevent thrombosis (a blood clot within a blood vessel)

    Antiatherosclerotic: preventing fatty deposits and fibrosis of the inner layer of your arteries from forming

    Antiinflammatory: counteracting inflammation (heat, pain, swelling, etc.)

    Improving endothelial function: a major factor in promoting the growth of new blood vessels

    Antihypertensive: Lowering blood pressure

    Lowering triglyceride concentrations


  • Signs and Symptoms of Fatty Acid Deficiency

    To get your omega-3 to omega-6 ratio closer to the ideal 1:1, simply cut back on all vegetable oils (this includes processed foods, which are loaded with vegetable oils), and begin consuming sources of high-quality omega-3 fats daily. My favorite omega-3 supplement is krill oil, which I'll discuss in a moment. Common signs and symptoms that your omega-3 to omega-6 ratio may be out of balance include:

    Certain clusters of symptoms may indicate other fatty acid deficiencies.  For example, if you have a deficiency in arachidonic acid, the following symptoms are typical:

    • -Dry, itchy, scaly skin
    • -Dandruff and/or hair loss
    • -Reproductive difficulties
    • -Gastrointestinal disturbances
    • -Food intolerances

    Deficiencies in either AA or DHA can result in poor growth, poor immune function, and inflammation. DHA deficiency has been linked to ADHD, depression and Alzheimer's disease, which is understandable as DHA is so critical to your neurological function. If your deficiency is in DHA, you are more likely to experience these symptoms:

    • -Numbness or tingling
    • -Weakness or pain
    • -Psychological disturbances
    • -Poor cognition
    • -Poor visual acuity 

      • Plant-Based Versus Animal-based Omega-3 Fats

        There are many who argue you can get all of the omega-3 fats you need from plant sources, but I disagree. Plant-based omega-3 sources include flax, hemp, and chia seeds, which are all high in ALA. Your body can convert ALA into EPA and DHA—but only in small quantities, as I discussed earlier. While you certainly should consume these plant-based fats, you cannot rely on them exclusively to meet all your body's omega-3 fat  requirements.

        Your body needs all three omega-3 fats (ALA, EPA and DHA), and for this, you need both plant AND animal sources. You should avoid taking DHA-only products, for the same reason.

        Dry, flaky skin, alligator skin, or "chicken skin" on backs of arms

        Dandruff or dry hair

        Brittle or soft nails

        Cracked skin on heals or fingertips

        Lowered immunity, frequent infections

        Dry eyes

        Poor wound healing

        Frequent urination or excessive thirst



        Poor attention span, hyperactivity, or irritability

        Problems learning

        My Number One Choice for Omega-3 Supplementation


        In a perfect world, you'd get all of the animal-based omega-3s you needed from eating fish and seafood. But the sad reality is that industrial pollution has contaminated most of the world's fish and seafood with a variety of dangerous toxins like mercury and PCBs. The one exception is krill oil, my favorite omega-3 fat supplement. Krill does not generally have this contamination.

        I take krill oil every day because I believe it's the best omega-3 source for the following four reasons:

        1. Highest Bioavailability: The omega-3 in krill oil is bound in a phospholipid structure, making it far more bioavailable than fish oil. In fact, nearly 100 percent of the DHA and EPA in krill oil are immediately available to your body. The omega-3 fats in fish oil, on the other hand, are in triglyceride molecules that have to be broken down in your gut into their base fats, EPA and DHA. Once these fats are absorbed into your bloodstream, your liver then has to attach them to phoshphatidyl choline molecules in order for them be used by your tissues.

          Because of this, you can only absorb about 15 to 20 percent of the fish oil you take, while the rest is eliminated in your intestine. (This is what causes many people to not tolerate fish oil very well, "burping up" the fish oil taste).

        1. Highest Stability: Unlike ordinary fish oil, krill oil naturally contains the powerful antioxidant astaxanthin, which prevents the perishable DHA and EPA from oxidizing and going rancid.

        2. Highest Sustainability: Krill is the largest biomass in the world, and krill harvesting is one of the best regulated on the planet, with strict catch regulations that are reviewed regularly to ensure sustainability.

        3. Lowest Dose: Krill oil works at a much lower dose than fish oil. Because krill oil is so potent and used so efficiently by your body, you may only need one 500 mg capsule per day.