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Simple Fat Change Radically Improves Mental and Physical Health

A new study adds to the evidence suggesting that the imbalance of fatty acids in the typical American diet could be associated with a sharp increase in heart disease and depression over the course of the last century.

The more omega-6 fats people had in their blood compared with omega-3 fats, the more likely they were to suffer from depression, and the more likely they were to have higher blood levels of inflammation-promoting compounds.

Inflammation-promoting compounds, such as tumor necrosis factor alpha and interleukin-6, have been linked to heart disease, type 2 diabetes, arthritis and other ailments.

Omega-3 fats are found in foods such as fish, flax seed oil and walnuts. Omega-6 fats are found in refined vegetable oils, which in modern times are used in many products ranging from margarine to baked goods to snack foods.

The amount of omega-6 fats in the Western diet increased greatly when refined vegetable oils became part of the diet in the early 20th century.

Psychosomatic Medicine March 30, 2007

Reuters April 17, 2007

Dr. Mercola's Comment:

The links between omega-3s and the prevention of depression, heart disease, and many other ailments are becoming more and more clear with each passing day.

This latest study showed, among other things, that six patients who were diagnosed with depression had almost 18 times the amount of omega-6 fats in their blood. In fact, the researchers noted depression and a poor diet went hand-in-hand, meaning those who ate many more nutritious foods generally avoided any problems.

Although our ancestors subsisted on a diet with a healthy balance, in which omega-6 and omega-3 fats were approximately equal (about a 1:1 ratio), our current Western diet is far too high in omega-6 fats. The omega-6 to omega-3 ratio is now closer to 20:1, possibly even 50:1.

One can only hope studies like this will serve as a wake-up call to conventional and conservative health organizations like the American Heart Association that still make no distinctions at all between omega-3 and omega-6 fats. Fish oil is routinely given to heart patients by European doctors, but in the United States this practice is relatively unknown, and people's health suffers as a result.

Remember, consuming more omega-3s fats doesn't mean eating "enriched" processed foods either, as your body was never built to handle isolated fatty acids out of balance with the way they are consumed in nature. The better, healthier course is to rebalance your intake of omega-3 fats by eating the right foods for your body's unique nutritional type and taking a high-quality omega-3 oil daily. 

My current favorite omega-3 source is krill oil, but fish oil also works well -- both are far better than relying on flax as your primary source of omega-3 fat.

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