Even "Good" Polyunsaturated Fats Can Cause Cataracts

A new study published in the latest American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has found the imbalance of omega-6 fats and alpha linoleic acids (ALA) in a person's diet appear to increase one's risk of age-related cataracts, another interesting offshoot of the landmark Nurses' Health Study.

Scientists studied the health of more than 600 nurses living in the Boston area with good vision between 1980-1994. During that time, patients completed five questionnaires providing information about their dietary intake of specific fats and other nutrients.

Why did researchers study the incidence of cataracts?

  • Age-related cataracts is the leading cause of blindness in the world.
  • Cataract removal is the most frequently performed surgical procedure among Medicare patients, costing some $3.5 billion annually.

Just another great example that demonstrates the diet of most Americans contains far too many omega-6 fats. Currently, most Americans eat a ratio of omega-6/omega-3 fats that falls between 20:1 and 50:1. The ratio we need to achieve to optimize our health, however, should actually be much closer to 1:1. For most, this means greatly reducing the omega-6 fatty acids we consume and increasing the amount of omega-3 fatty acids.

The best way to equalize those ratios is to consume the best source of omega-3 fats you can find, meaning a high-quality fish or cod liver oil daily.

Many believe that flax seed which is loaded with plant based omega-3 fats (ALA) is great for you. Well, this is fairly compelling evidence that flax is not as good as many experts believe it to be. I ran an article last year on the inabilty of flax to reduce inflammation compared to fish oil. So, the bottom line here, folks, is that if you are taking flax seed oil for your source for omega-3 fats, think again. You are deluding yourself. You are blind to the nutritional truth and that intellectual blindness may actually cause ocular blindness if you continue in your misguided ways.

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, April 2005, Vol. 81, No. 4: 773-779

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