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Welcome to the DebiLyn Smith blog site. If you like what you read here, check out her website at

Monday, January 30, 2012

"F" Is For Fat Intake and Flax Seeds

Thank goodness for this blog site. It has been forcing me to research  some of the more confusing issues we face at the grocery store each week.
Take the Omega 3 versus Omega 6 issue:

 Omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids are essential to the body to maintain certain functions and to aid in keeping you healthy. Each one has a different role in keeping your body performing at its absolute best.

Your body does not produce omega-3 or omega-6 fatty acids. A balanced diet provides proper amounts of omega-6, which helps with skin and hair growth, good bone health, and proper metabolism, as well as protects your reproductive capability. Omega 3 is harder to get through diet alone so many take a supplement to cover their daily needs.

Omega-6 is a class of polyunsaturated fatty acids that occur in vegetable oils, meats, eggs, certain nuts and beans. Omega-6 fatty acids are different from omega-3 fatty acids, one way being that if you over-consume the Omega 6, you can cause some serious health issues.

Most Western diets have too much omega-6 fatty acids, due to regularly eating large portions of meat. An imbalance between omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids can lead to heart disease, depression, asthma, arthritis, and cancer.If Omega 6 is consumed habitually in excessive amounts,it  can increase inflammation, blood clotting, and cell proliferation (meaning cancer).

If taken in proper amounts, Omega-6 fatty acid aids in reducing the symptoms of diabetic neuropathy, rheumatoid arthritis, allergies and high blood pressure. It eases the symptoms of menopause, in particular breast pain or tenderness. It is also good for the sufferers of multiple sclerosis, and it also helps those diagnosed with ADHD. Add eczema, menstrual pain and breast cancer to the list of illnesses and diseases that omega-6 is helpful for preventing or treating. 

Omega-6 Foods

Omega-6 is found in meats, processed foods and oils such as soybean, corn, sunflower and cottonseed. Other foods high in omega-6 include pistachios, olive oil and olives.You will find them as key ingredients in snack foods, processed foods and fast foods. Also beware of some veggie burgers and granola bars! Eliminate or cut back on those foods to help reduce omega-6 levels. Foods that are naturally low in omega-6 fats include fruits and vegetables; beans; low-fat turkey slices; egg whites; lean fish such as tilapia, snapper and cod; and low omega-6 oils such as macadamia nut, coconut and fat-free mayonnaise.

Eat More

Healthy fats: raw nuts, olive oil, fish oils, flax seeds, or avocados

Nutrients: colorful fruits and vegetables—fresh, frozen, or canned, prepared without butter

Fiber: cereals, breads, and pasta made from whole grains or legumes

Omega 3 and protein: fish and shellfish, poultry

Calcium and protein: Egg whites, egg substitutes, skim or 1% milk, low-fat or nonfat cheeses or yogurt

Eat Less

Trans fats from partially hydrogenated or deep-fried foods; saturated fats from whole-fat dairy or red meat
 Packaged foods of any kind, especially those high in sodium
White or egg breads, granola-type cereals, refined pastas or rice
Red meat, bacon, sausage, fried chicken. A serving should be only 3 ounces or less than the size of a deck of cards.
Egg yolks, whole or 2 percent milk, whole milk products like cheese or yogurt

Omega-3 fatty acid is found in abundance in fish or fish oils. This essential fatty acid has been found to reduce the incidence of heart disease, as well as a number of other illnesses or conditions. Omega-3 fatty acid plays a crucial role in the function of the brain and in normal growth development. It also stimulates hair and skin growth. A healthy diet of omega-3 fatty acids would include wheat germ, fresh fruits and vegetables, along with fish, a bit of olive oil, garlic, flax seed, walnuts and canola oil (in moderation). All of these are excellent sources of this fatty acid.

Dietary sources of EFAs
FoodOmega-3 (grams per100g)Omega-6 (grams per 100g)
Hemp seeds7.021.0
Pumpkin seeds3.223.4
Rape seed2.19.0
Olive oil0.67.9
Wheat germ0.55.5
Sunflower seeds030.7

 Omega-3 plays an important role in reducing different types of inflammation, while Omega-6 can often cause the inflammation to become even worse if over consumed.
Omega-3 fatty acids help to reduce blood pressure and high cholesterol. Several other diseases are helped by the addition of an Omega-3 supplement.  Arthritis, lupus, osteoporosis, asthma, diabetes, irritable bowel disease, breast cancer and colon cancer are just some in a long list of ailments that can benefit from omega-3 fatty acid.

Another New Breast Cancer Study: Omega-6 Fat Increases Risk Two-fold in Large U.S. Study
Bottomline: Eating high levels of omega-6 fat (linoleic acid) increases the risk of developing breast cancer nearly 2-fold in genetically susceptible women.  Last month Swedish researchers found a similar risk.  Linoleic acid is the most common polyunsaturated fat in the American diet. 

Study Quote: “…our results suggest a role of the omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid pathway in breast cancer etiology.”

Comment: This study adds to the growing evidence of excessive omega-6 fat increasing the risk of breast cancer.  

I rest my case. Instead of olive oil, I now use coconut oil, available at the Health Food store. Coconut oil can be heated to high temperatures and comes in a solid form. I have successfully used it in place of animal fats like butter in baking, grilled cheese sandwiches and making white sauces. Get the non-flavoured variety so your grilled cheese doesn't have a coconut flavour!
We eat salmon two times a week, use Omega 3 fortified eggs and I sprinkle freshly ground flax seeds on everything but my toothbrush.

"F" Is For Flax Seeds

Okay, so you've just read about the importance of upping your Omega 3s and lowering the Omega 6's. But how to do that?
 I use avocado instead of mayonnaise on my sandwiches whenever possible to lower the Omega 6 andI take a fish oil supplement every morning. But the best thing I do is sprinkle the freshly ground flax seeds on my oatmeal to get more Omega 3.

Flax seed has been found to be preventative of breast cancer, says Dr. Lilian Thompson, professor emeritus of nutritional sciences at the University of Toronto. It not only reduces the chance of the cancer germinating in the first place, it also slows the growth of established tumours.
It has also been noted to increase the effectiveness of Tamoxifen, the after-treatment drug for many estrogen receptor positive breast cancer patients.

On that note alone, sign me up!
To be effective, whole flaxseeds must be ground within 24 hours of use, so the ingredients stay active. Flaxseeds are also available in ground form in a special mylar package so the components in the flaxseeds stay active.

Here are some of the documented benefits of eating flaxseed.
  • Relief from constipation: Eating 50 grams of flaxseed per day helped increase the frequency of bowel movements.
  • Lowered risk of heart disease: Women and men who ate 50 grams of ground flaxseed daily averaged a 9 percent drop in total cholesterol levels, LDL (the “bad” cholesterol) decreased 18 percent, and serum lipids (fat in the blood) were 11-16 percent lower.
  • Lowered risk of cancer: Population studies of diet and disease risk suggest an anti-cancer role for flaxseed in both prostate cancer and breast cancer.
Keep in mind that these benefits come from raw, ground flaxseed, not flaxseed oil. Flaxseed oil is pure fat and virtually devoid of all or most of the nutrients found in ground flaxseed.
Ground flaxseeds can be added to almost anything you're making or baking. Keep them handy as a reminder and feel great knowing if there is a battle raging inside of you, you're doing the right things to help out.

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