The skinny on fish oil, Omega-3, Omega-6 and what foods contain these fats and what part they play in a healthy body is the topic for discussion. Fish oil contains Omega-3 and cod liver oil contains Omega-3 plus Vitamins A and D. Cod liver oil is no longer the nasty tasting potion that grandma gave for fixing every childhood ailment; today it is a refined oil and not rancid. The body needs both Omega -3 and Omega -6 to function properly; they are called essential fats. However, the body does not make either of these so they must be obtained through foods or supplements. Fish is the best food source for Omega-3 but with recent environmental concerns with mercury found in fish it has been recommended that eating fish in abundance be approached with caution. There is a component found in walnuts and flaxseed that the body can change into Omega-3s. Omega-6 is found easily in food, in fact it is too plentiful and dietary consumption is so high that the ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6 is not the recommended 1:5 but is now 1:20. The public is eating 4 times the Omega-6 than is required for the body to function. Eating a diet high in Omega-6 produces inflammation, for example it will worsen arthritis. Foods that contain Omega-6 are the oils of: corn, soy, safflower, canola and sunflower. These are a better type of oil than saturated fats such as bacon, butter, cheese and sausage and hydrogenated fats like margarine but when eaten in such large quantities they can cause health problems.
Carbohydrate = 4 calories per gram
Protein = 4 calories per gram
Alcohol = 7 calories per gram
Fat = 9 calories per gram
It is the type of fat as well as how much fat that should be kept in check for daily intake. All fats contain 9 calories in every 1 gram no matter what the fat is. An individual must determine the best fat choice and not in excess. Avocadoes and extra virgin olive oil are the best fats to eat health wise. Almost all labels today say “no trans-fat”, but those bad hydrogenated oils have now been replaced with the better Omega-6 oils but processed food consumption has increased so much that the ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 fats has increased putting people at risk for disease. To reduce inflammation Omega-3 fish oil is recommended. Dr. Andrew Weil the holistic medicine guru in Arizona offers an anti inflammatory food pyramid and eating a Mediterranean diet to keep balance of the Omega-3s and 6s in check. This imbalance has led to a rise in obesity Western cultures.
The dose for fish oil should be around 1800-2000mg daily and no more than 3000mg. Discuss dosing with a pharmacist as some labels may be confusing by indicating the dose of the chemical contents. Any OTC additions should always be discussed with a physician. This easy to follow article by the University of Maryland details fish oil and its benefits for many conditions. The liquid fish oils may aggravate people with GERD causing heartburn and bloating.
“I have taken 2 teaspoons of cod liver oil every day for 20 years.” This tip was received in the early 1980s from an 80 year old female, a tip she obtained from an 80 year old gentleman in the 1960s who lived in the Louisiana Bayou; he had been taking cod liver oil for years. That brings this patient tip back to the 1940s.
***NOTE FROM KAREN TALARICO***
This is both the FIRST and the LAST Storefront Nurse article to be published on Thursdays. Beginning next week Eating Italian will resume with 2 articles one on Sundays and one on Thursdays as previously published. Storefront Nurse will go back to Tuesday but will only be published once a month on either the first or second Tuesday of the month. Appreciate the support while making switches!