Client Core Habits: Consume Healthy Fats (1:1 Ratio Omega 3:6) With Each Meal And No Toxic Fats
Question: Did you consume healthy fats in abundance today in a 1:1 ratio of omega 3:6 and no toxic fats?
How To Know You’ve Done This: Use our “cheat sheet” below to determine which foods are higher in their ratio of Omega 3:6 and eat fats in abundance.
Level 1: Avoid Toxic Fats
Level 2: Eat Lots of Healthy Fats
Level 3: Balance Omega 3 and 6 Fats
Avoid Toxic Fats, Eat Healthy Fats in abundance, and prioritize balancing omega 3’s and 6’s. When you think about doing all three of the things mentioned above, it’s a bit overwhelming. So we’ve broken it down into three different levels.
First, you need to avoid toxic fat. These are things like canola oil, margarine, sunflower oil, safflower oil, vegetable oil, corn oil, cottonseed oil, refined palm, shortenings, pastries, chicken nuggets, pretty much every restaurant food that is cooked 99% of salad dressings, granola bars, cereals and many more. Toxic fat is highly inflammatory and turn into mega-trans-fat once ingested. It causes mass cellular confusion and over time will lead to early aging, obesity, and alziemers just to name a few.
Second, you’ll eat an abundance of healthy, natural fat. Nature does not make bad fats. Healthy fats include things like olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, butter, ghee, grass-fed dairy, well-sourced meat, nuts, seeds, chocolate (>80% cacao), fish, eggs, and avocados. The fat calories in these foods should make up 70% of your daily caloric intake.
Once you’ve eliminated toxic fats and added in a plethora of healthy fats, it’s time to consider the balance of Omega 3:6. Think of this balance like a teeter totter. On one side of the teeter totter you have foods higher in omega 6 fats like avocado, nuts, seeds and anything fed grains. On the other side you have chia seeds, flaxseeds, and oily fish like salmon, sardines, etc. Then, you’ve also got foods which have a nearly 1-1 ratio of omega 3:6 like grass-fed meat, grass-fed dairy products. Eat lots of these to “weigh down” the teeter totter in the middle and bring balance.
How Did We Get Here?
Controversy abounds in the world of nutrition. Should we eat fat? Does fat clog our arteries and make us fat?
Before Ancel Keys in the 1950’s and one of the biggest scandals in nutrition history, our relatively recent ancestors ate butter, animal fat, nuts and seeds, and avocados and enjoyed a life free from many of the diseases we suffer from today.
In the 1950s, Keys starred in a CBS documentary called "The Search." On the show, Keys claimed to have found the cause for heart disease.
He used bad statistics to peg the rise in heart attacks on natural fats. His research was used by margarine manufacturers to make it seem like margarine was a healthy alternative to saturated fat-laden butter. The world's producers of margarine were ecstatic as sales began to skyrocket.
Unfortunately we got the story all wrong. Ancel Keys claimed fat was clogging our arteries like a clogged pipe. Although it makes sense in theory, his analogy was completely false.
So, should we believe Ancel Keys, who did his PhD on electric eels, or hundreds of lipid scientists who study fat for a living?
Lipid scientists have been arguing for decades that natural fats and cholesterol have always been part of the human diet and are not the problem.
Sadly, heart attacks have steadily risen to become the number-one killer of Americans as vegetable oil consumption has increased and butter and other animal fat consumption decreased.
The real problem lies in polyunsaturated fatty acids. At Village, we refer to them as PUFAs. It’s easy to remember because they make our arteries go “poof!” These are chemically unstable molecules and they are abundant in vegetable oil.
In 2001, nutrition scientists at the Harvard School of Public Health went on to suggest that the low-fat, anti-cholesterol theory of health was not only dead wrong, but it was setting people up to be more likely to have diabetes and heart disease.
As more research is discovering that animal fats are healthy, the pressure is building towards change in medicine. However, the medical guidelines remain the same, and thus you won't likely hear this from your primary care physician.
So how did Ancel Keys convince America that animal fats were bad?
He used bad science. Keys did not compare PUFA fats to animal fats. Instead he compared PUFAs to artificial trans fats (a toxic fat).
He claimed to have tested saturated fats when in reality he was testing trans fat-laden vegetable oils. How he made the connection between these vegetable oils and animal products, we are not sure.
Trans fats have been proven to raise cholesterol. Foods containing artificially made saturated fat, like margarine and shortenings, contain plenty of trans fat. These foods have been clearly shown to elevate cholesterol when added to a diet that was previously free of these foods.
This was enough to convince modern medicine, however, and natural fats have been taboo ever since. And even though an abundance of science showing exactly the opposite has come out since, it has yet to be enough to shift the rudder of the ship that is modern medicine.
The Data Ancel Keys Neglected To Publish
Medical detective work by Christopher E. Ramsden, medical investigator at the NIH, who published an article called “Re-evaluation of the traditional diet-heart hypothesis: analysis of recovered data from Minnesota Coronary Experiment (1968-73)” implicates Keys in one of the greatest nutrition scandals of the age.
Both groups in Keys’ study were at an increased risk of heart attack. We know that trans fats increase risk for heart attack. But according to even Ancel Keys’ data, so do PUFA fats.
A Nurses Health Study showed that for each 2% increase in trans fat in the diet, the risk of heart disease is doubled. What’s crazy is that the trans-fat diet performed BETTER than the PUFA diet. This suggests that vegetable oil has a more toxic impact on our health than even trans fats.
In spite of progress in the realm of saturated fat, doctors still have a long way to go in understanding the health consequences of consuming polyunsaturated fats from industrially produced vegetable oils. Nutrition science as a whole has made very little progress on this front in large part because Ancel Keys appears to have done everything in his power to keep us from understanding just how unhealthy PUFAs and vegetable oils are.
Keys misled people to believe that saturated fats, like those found in eggs and butter, were to blame for the atherosclerotic plaques in our body. However, the polyunsaturated fats in the hydrogenated oils he used in his experiments were the real culprit.
Thanks to great books like Deep Nutrition and The Primal Blueprint, Americans have come a long way in their understanding of how trans fats are the actual problem and how saturated fats from natural sources are healthy and communicate well with our bodies. Even a handful of doctors today are starting to lift the restrictions on eggs and butter to allow folks to enjoy these amazingly healthy foods! But until the medical guidelines are changed to match current research, you won’t likely see many doctors going against the herd mentality and changing what they recommend.
What Happens When We Eat Toxic Fats Vs. Natural Fats?
The human body is comprised of trillions of cells, virtually all of which rely on fats to function correctly. Specifically, the wall of each cell is what is called a phospholipid bilayer. In this term, “lipid” means fat molecule. These fat molecules allow our cells to keep the right materials inside their walls, the incorrect materials outside their walls, and carefully import and export various other substances at exactly the right time with other cells. This allows our trillions of differentiated cells to coordinate their unique actions in a brilliant orchestra of life.
When we eat healthy fats, we nourish our cells and keep their walls healthy. When we eat toxic fats, we compromise the most fundamental barrier between health and illness. Eating toxic fats would be like supplying a construction crew with duct tape and styrofoam to build a house instead of bricks and mortar. They could definitely make a shelter, but how long it would stand and how happy its residents would be might be less than ideal.
If you supply your body with a steady stream of fast-burning carbohydrates, it will become reliant on the carbs as an energy source. Every time you eat a meal, insulin will spike, sop up the excess carbs, and store them as fat. Then, once insulin has done its job, blood sugar levels fall, you get really hungry for more carbs and the cycle starts over. Add to this the fact that spikes in insulin have been linked to early again by means of systemic inflammation and you have a recipe for dysfunction.
Fill your diet with healthy fats as the primary fuel source, and you train your body to use fat and to pull stored body fat as fuel. You can go long periods without needing food and instead of relying on ingested calories, you can burn your own reserves. Sounds pretty great, right?
Besides acting as building blocks for our amazing cell walls, fats also play a crucial role as fuel. Genetically, our bodies are well equipped to metabolize fats into the energy we need for all sorts of daily and sporting activities. Our other fuel options include carbohydrates, protein, and alcohol. Carbohydrates are a poor fuel source for reasons covered here. Proteins must be converted into carbohydrates before being used for fuel, so they have the same negative effects of carbohydrates with the additional drawback of taxing the liver and kidneys. It probably goes without saying that relying on alcohol as a primary fuel source is a bad idea!
As a fuel source, fats are highly efficient and consistent. Once the body has detoxed from excessive carbohydrate consumption and normalized its insulin production and sensitivity (again, check out the carb habit if you haven’t already!), fats provide a superior 9 calories per gram vs the 4 available from carbohydrates or proteins. Imagine if your Prius got 90 miles to the gallon instead of 40! Okay I was just informed that the latest Priuses actually get 50 mpg, but you get the idea! When your fuel source is more efficient, you don’t have to subject yourself to vicious hunger cycles or energy spikes and crashes. Whether trying to lose weight or maintain weight, efficient fuel will get you where you want to go with less stops at the gas station or auto-repair shop.
Side note: moderately intense cardio sessions (read: training for a 5k or half marathon) lead to increased cravings for carby foods because you’ve created a drop in blood sugar and stressed out your body.
Healthy fats are those occurring naturally in foods without modification and without mishandling that causes rancidity. These include olives, nuts, seeds, avocados, wild-caught fish, grass-fed dairy, meat, and eggs. Correct handling is important because fats are sensitive to things like light, heat, and time. When healthy fats are mishandled or heated excessively they become rancid and lose their nutritional value (and often become harmful!). This is more common than you might think. For example, many healthy oils are “refined.” Refining requires high pressure and temperatures that damage the delicate fatty acids. It is usually done to reduce the texture, taste, color, and odor of oils. This is only necessary when the crops that produced the oils were of sub-par quality. Conversely, the oils from the best crops are prized for their taste, texture, color, and aroma. Oils made from healthy olives or avocados doesn’t need to be refined because they are delicious and nutritious as is! Oil made from old, damaged avocados or olives wouldn’t be palatable without being chemically altered.
So what makes toxic fats toxic? Toxic fats are any fats that have been industrially created or natural fats that have been mishandled.
Industrially created fats include…
Nearly all margarines or spreads including Country Crock, Crisco, SmartButter and Earth Balance.
They are present as cooking oils, salad dressings, and nearly any processed food. When in doubt, read food labels. You’d be surprised at how many foods with healthy looking packaging actually contain these toxic oils. Additionally, nearly all restaurant cooking is done with toxic oils, even in fine dining establishments.
Lets use corn oil as an example. Corn is not an oily food. In order to get oil out of it, extreme heat and industrial grade solvents must be used to literally rearrange its molecular structure. The resulting Frankenstein-esque molecules appear to the unsuspecting human body to be the fat molecules it knows and loves, and they are integrated into the delicate cell wall. But its bubble gum and duct tape rather than bricks and mortar. The compromised cell wall loses its ability to keep the good stuff in, the bad stuff out, and the import/export gates accurate and effective.
Besides being poor building materials, these molecules contain free radicals. Free radicals are unpaired electrons that cause a chain combustion reaction that literally fries us inside out. Fortunately, our bodies are good at cooling these reactions via antioxidants (see the vegetables Core Habit!). However, I would rather not have to order a truckload of fire extinguishers on Amazon Prime every month nor come home every day to a burning house, which is essentially what we put our bodies through when we ingest toxic fats!
Here is a list of healthy fats…
Nuts and seeds
Free range, pasture raised, or 100% grass fed animal products
Full-fat, RAW, Organic dairy products. (we sell Organic Pastures and love that company)
Olive oil (caution with high heat)
Peanut oil (unrefined)
Macadamia nut oil
Unrefined palm oil
Palm Kernel oil
Avocado oil (look for cold-pressed and unrefined)
There are dozens more, but we recommend memorizing the fairly short list of healthy fats rather than the long list of toxic fats!
It is much easier to know what fats to eat and how to use them than it is to remember all the toxic fats.
Balancing Omega 3:6
So now you’re with us that natural fat is good and toxic fat is bad, yeah? Great! Now we can move to healthy fats level III: balancing Omega 3:6.
Many of our clients are unfamiliar with the Omega 3:6 ratio or don’t understand the importance of it. It is estimated that the average american diet is somewhere in the ballpark of a 1:15 ratio of omega 3:6. Considering that lab studies have shown chronic disease starts to form at as low as a 1:4 ratio, resolving this imbalance is essential.
One major problem is a diet high in grains. Grains are rich in omega 6’s. If the animals we eat are also fed grains (which nearly all are), we will further elevate ouromega 6 intake.
There have been a bevy of studies over the last 40 years which have shown that Omega 3:6 ratio imbalance is present in nearly all chronic disease states.
Essentially, omega 6’s are like the gas pedal for the immune system. When we eat them, they expedite the inflammatory process in our body. Inflammation is important. We need it. But, when we are chronically inflamed, as many Americans are, it leads to preventable diseases, chronic pain, and weight gain.
Omega 3’s, on the other hand, are like the brakes for the immune system. They help to shut down inflammation, and keep our system functioning well.
In order to get a balanced immune and inflammatory response, the human body needs fats in a ratio of 1:1 Omega 6s to Omega 3s. Too many Omega 6s, even when they come from healthy foods like avocados, olives, and nuts, can cause excessive inflammation.
So which foods are high in Omega 3’s vs. 6’s?
We’ve taken this chart from Slanker Grass Fed Meats and repurposed/simplified it for you to show Omega 3:6 content/ratios of common foods as well as protein, fat, and carb ratios.
A word of caution
Be wary of marketing which proclaims a food for a high omega 3 content. Take walnuts for example. They are rich in omega 3’s. Yet, the are 4.2X higher in omega 6’s! If you eat walnuts in abundance, you will push yourself into an omega 3 deficit. Now don’t go throwing out your walnuts. They are a great source of healthy fats, but should be eaten in moderation along with foods rich in omega 3 fats.
"The top 10 leading causes of death in the United States." 4 Jul. 2019, https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/282929.php. Accessed 13 Aug. 2019.
"World Vegetable Oil Consumption Expands and ... - AgEcon Search." https://ageconsearch.umn.edu/record/266114/files/FoodReview-115.pdf. Accessed 13 Aug. 2019.