Sunday, May 3, 2009

Omega-3, where have you gone?

Heart disease, high cholesterol, and obesity have become three of the hottest topics when discussing the American diet, and much of the blame has been put on our consumption of red meats, or more specifically our over consumption. If this is the case though than why were our ancestors (the hunter gatherers), or even modern day "hunter gatherer" civilizations for that matter not overtaken by this modern day "American" pandemic?

The answer is (and studies show) the research that has connected these diseases with red meats is incomplete. The dots have been connected but Dr.'s have stopped short of the true cause. Instead of putting the blame on the foods we eat, we should look more closely at the food this food is eating. Over the years the diets of many of our favorite foods (beef, chicken, fish...) have changed drastically from what nature intended, the leaf part of a plant (a diet rich in Omega-3's), to a diet that better suits our societies "mass production" needs, the grain or seed part of the plant (a diet high in Omega-6).

We've been told about the importance of the essential fatty acids (Omega-3 and Omega-6) in our diet, but just as most other nutrients within the body the ratio of the two is more important than the amount, and the ratio within the average American diet has gone too far in the wrong direction. We have gone from a more ideal ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 of 1:1 to something much closer to 10:1 respectively, and many believe that this is the cause of many of today's health problems. But what does this have to do with the food we eat, or more importantly the food our food eats?

Most people have either read or heard about the importance of choosing wild caught salmon over farm raised, but Nutritionists and other health experts point to the level of heavy metals as the main reason. Very little has been said about the lopsided ratio of these essential fatty acids. Farm raised salmon are fed a very similar diet to that of feedlot cattle (the beef we eat too much of), and that's a diet high in grains (a diet high in Omega-6) instead of krill a diet high in Omega-3 and the salmons natural food.

The same can be said for the beef most Americans consume. These cows are raised not on green pastures like nature intended, but in feed lots where their diets consisting of grains (primarily corn) work better for our need; that is a cheap food source that is perfect for a mass-produced product. But at what cost?

This lopsided ratio of Omega-3 (a natural anti-inflammatory and aids in helping blood flow) to Omega-6 (a natural inflammatory and aids in blood clotting) has been linked to many of our nation’s top health issues; heart disease, high cholesterol, and chronic inflammation of any type.

Instead of blaming our health problems on the food we eat, let’s take a better look at the true cause of this!

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