Nearly everything we've learned in the last 40 years about eating fat is wrong. Bottom line: When it comes to consuming fats, shun omega-6s (bad fats) and embrace omega-3s (good fats).
Forget what you’ve been told: Most vegetable oils are not healthful choices.
Photo by Fotolia/Kuzmick
Our article Omega-3s and More: The Importance of Fat in a Healthy Diet may be the most important health news we’ve ever shared with you.
Fats, it turns out, are far more complicated than we realized, and mainstream medicine and nutrition experts have misguided us — in a big way. For more than 40 years, we’ve been told that eating fat is what makes us fat. Now, a closer look at the accumulating evidence is revealing that this advice is wrong. The presumed link between heart disease and eating cholesterol and saturated fats is also questionable. What about the corn, soy and other vegetable oils that we’ve been told are better choices than butter and lard? We now know that butter and lard from pastured animals are better than the so-called “good fats” found in vegetable oils. (One exception to this rule is olive oil, which is still a very good option.)
This shift in understanding what we should eat is huge. It’s going to take us a long time to erase the mistaken idea that low-fat is good, and to stop avoiding foods rich in cholesterol and saturated fats.
The second part of our article describes the emerging insight into the omega class of polyunsaturated fats — omega-3 fats and omega-6 fats in particular. Both are essential in our diets, but we need to eat them in the right amounts. Thanks to Big Ag’s dependence on corn and soybean oils, most of us consume way too much vegetable oil, which is high in omega-6s. High-omega-6 soy and corn are so cheap to produce that they’re used heavily in processed foods, and are the primary feeds on factory farms for fattening livestock, which then transfer those omega-6s to us via their meat, milk and eggs. The ratio of these two types of fats is now severely out of balance in the average person’s diet. Excess omega-6s can affect nearly every major human physiological process. They may hamper immune function and increase the incidence of inflammation, arthritis, asthma, back pain, headaches, cardiovascular disease, bone density loss, Alzheimer’s disease, stunted brain development, behavioral disorders, depression and suicide.
Only plants produce essential omega-3 fats, which are then concentrated in fish and grazing animals. We access these good fats when we eat wild-caught fish or pastured meat, eggs and dairy. But when we consume conventional, factory-farmed meat from animals raised on corn and soybeans, our diets result in a ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 that’s unnatural and harmful.
This is good news for homesteaders and pastured livestock producers. Using natural grazing methods will result in more healthful meat, eggs and dairy. As the public comes to comprehend this new knowledge about fats, markets for sustainable grass-fed products will grow, and unsustainable factory farming will be challenged to change.
We’ve worked hard to present this new information about fats as clearly as possible. We urge you to take note of this research and consider the importance of eating more omega-3s. To learn about how this radical knowledge has emerged, read The Big Fat Surprise: Why Meat, Butter & Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet by Nina Teicholz, and Why We Get Fat and What to Do About It by Gary Taubes.
Stay tuned for follow-up articles in 2016, including a report on which vegetables are richest in omega-3s, results from our testing of pastured products, and ways you can improve the omega-fats content of your animal feeds.