A little nutrition note about fats and oils in our diet

Last week I spent the week with my younger daughter, her husband and her two beautiful sons. I had a wonderful time. She fed me well–yogurt and salads all week. And her salads are not ordinary salads, she did things like roasting sweet potatoes and added lots of wonderful fruits and nuts to her salads. I have been trying very hard for several months now to make sure that I get the recommended ratios of omega-6:omega-3 fatty acids in my diet; so this was a great boost to me. My efforts have paid off as my last check for cholesterol and lipids showed very high levels of HDL and lower cholesterol levels.  We went shopping and I found high oleic acid Sunflower Oil which gives me a neutral oil to add to the Extra Virgin Olive Oil that I have been using. This is wonderful because the sunflower oil has a neutral flavor as opposed to the EVOO.

I get a newsletter from Vital Choice Seafood that gives lots of wonderful information about research studies related to dietary fat intake. Of course, they’re biased because they’re selling salmon and other seafood; but it is good information for all of us. You may not know that I’m also a registered dietitian and spent my entire career working in the area of clinical research which explains my interest in all of this.

Thus, my take on all of this is that the goal for the total diet (based on the caveman diet) should be omega-6:omega-3 = 3:1. Oils containing omega-6 fatty acids are everywhere, but we have to eat very specific foods to get omega-3 fatty acids in our diet. The ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids in the typical American diet is anywhere from 20 to 40:1 because of the use of canola and soybean oils. By reducing omega-6 in the diet and changing it to high oleic acid oils, you can change the ratio of omega-6:omega-3. Omega-6, specifically linoleic acid, is metabolized to arachidonic acid which is responsible for pro-inflammatory responses. When you change to high oleic acid oils you also get the benefits of high levels of antioxidants and other compounds like phytosterols, tyrosols, and choline that are good for vascular and brain health. Although some vegetable oils are high in saturated fat (like coconut oil and butter), the benefits of antioxidants, choline, and other compounds appear to outweigh the negatives of saturated fat.

Now, back to quilting–I’m working on a t-shirt quilt – will post a picture tomorrow.