The two essential fatty acids (EFAs) are linoleic acid (LA), and omega-6 fat, and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fat. Vegetables and nuts (corn, safflower, cottonseed, peanuts, and soybeans) are the highest in omega-6 fats. Since approximately 90% of theses oils (except peanut oil) produced in the USA are genetically modified, I recommend you eat only organic, cold pressed oils made from these foods, or find other sources of omega-6. LA is the primary omega 6 fat, which a healthy human will convert into gamma linolenic acid (GLA). Other omega-6 fats include conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), dihomo-gamma-linolenic acid (DGLA), and arachidonic acid (AA). Ocean fish (such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel) and certain nuts/seeds (such as flax/linseed, and walnuts) are the highest in omega-3 fats. ALA is the principal omega-3 fat, which a healthy human will convert into eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and later into docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and docosapentaenoic acid (DPA).
Good health requires the proper ration of omega-6 and omega-3 fats; the ideal ratio is around 2:1. Both essential fats are bountiful in the leafy plants consumed by roaming animals, providing nearly equal ratios of these EFAs. For example, hemp seed oil has an optimum balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fats. Before the introduction of harvested grains as feed, cattle thrived on lush green grasses, which provided a complete and balanced diet and promoted healthy growth without excessive fat production. In light of this fact, it is important to make sure that you only eat meat from animals that feed on grass, since their meat has the perfect ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats, and it is rich in CLA. A great many studies have shown that CLA fights cancer in lab animals. Animals that naturally graze have 3-5 times more CLA that animals fattened on grain.
Superficially, CLA resembles linoleic acid, but they appear to have opposite effects. Whereas an overabundance of linoleic acid promotes tumor growth, CLA blocks it. In fact, CLA may be one of our most potent cancer fighters. In a recent study feeding rats small amounts of CLA shrank mammary tumors by 45%. Scientists added very small amounts of CLA to breast cancer cells growing in a culture. By the 8th day, the CLA had killed 93% of the cells.
A group of Finnish researchers found that women who consumed the most CLA had a 60% lower risk of breast cancer than other women. CLA also stimulates the immune system, improves insulin sensitivity, improves blood lipid levels, improves lean body mass to fat rations, and has no know practical toxicity levels.
Modern farming practices have led to a steady decline in the amount of CLA supplied in the diet over the past half century. Today’s dairy products have only around 25% of the CLA content they used to have around 1960. A good case could be made that the cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity epidemics we are now experiencing are largely due to the decline of CLA in the diet. Unfortunately, if you go to the supermarket to purchase beef, you will get beef that has been grain-fed. As a result, the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio will be completely out of whack and you will not be getting the CLA content that you would from grass-fed beef.
In my opinion, coconut oil is the healthiest oil; one of the most impressive features of coconut oil is that it is extremely rich in lauric acid (about 50% by volume). The only other abundant source of lauric acid found in nature is in human breast milk. A great deal of research has established the fact that lauric acid is used by humans to destroy viruses, and various pathogenic bacteria and microbes such as yeasts, fungi, bacteria, parasites, and molds.
According to Mary Enig, the USA’s leading expert on fats: “Coconut oil has a unique role in the diet as an important physiologically functional food. The health and nutritional benefits that can be derived from consuming coconut oil have been recognized in many parts of the world for centuries…coconut oil provides a source of antimicrobial lipids for individuals with compromised immune systems, and is a non-promoting fat with respect to chemical carcinogenesis..”
Coconut oil contains no trans-fats and about 2/3 of the saturated fat in coconut oil is made up of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA’s). By contrast, most common vegetable or seed oils are comprised of long-chain fatty acids (LCFA’s), which put strain on the pancreas and the liver, are chiefly stored in the body as fat, and harden the arteries with cholesterol. The MCFA’s in coconut oil have antimicrobial properties, are beneficial to the immune system, are easily digested for quick energy, and cause weight loss. That’s right… eating coconut oil will help you lose weight.
Over 50% of Americans are overweight. One of the principal benefits of coconut oil lies in its ability to stimulate your metabolism. Back in the 1930s, Dr. Weston Price (a dentist) traveled throughout the South Pacific, examining traditional diets and their effect on dental and overall health. He found that those eating diets high in coconut products were healthy and trim, despite the high fat concentration in their diet. Then in the 1940s, farmers found out (by accident) that when they tried using inexpensive coconut oil to fatten their livestock, it didn’t work! Instead, coconut oil made the animals lean! Since then, many animal and human research studies have demonstrated that replacing LCFA’s with MCFA’s results in both decreased body weight and reduced body fat percentage. So, by changing the fats in your diet from the unsaturated LCFA’s found in vegetable or seed oils to the MCFA’s in coconut oil, you will lose weight!
We’ve all heard the rhetoric about saturated fat being unhealthy, but this is complete nonsense. The saturated fat in coconut oil is actually health promoting. How did that rumor get started? Well, it was based on some flawed studies performed almost 50 years ago. The studies used hydrogenated coconut oil, and the myth was perpetuated by the vegetable oil industry (aided by the FDA) back in the 1980s. The fact of the matter is that all hydrogenated oils are bad, since they have been chemically altered. But virgin coconut oil is wonderful for the human body. That is the only coconut oil we consume. As a matter of fact, we use so much coconut oil that we purchase it a gallon at a time! According to Dr. Bruce Fife, “coconut oil is the healthies oil on earth.”
Olive oil is the only vegetable oil that can be consumed fresh pressed, and it is the most prominent source of omega-9 fats, also known as oleic acids. The beneficial health effects of olive oil are due to both its high content of monounsaturated fatty acids and its high content of antioxidants. Studies have shown that olive oil offers protection against heart disease by controlling LDL (“bad”) cholesterol levels while raising HDL(“good”) levels. No other naturally produced oil has as large an amount of monounsaturated fatty acids as olive oil. We use olive oil all the time in salad dressings and vegetable medleys.
When buying olive oil, you will want to obtain a high quality extra virgin olive oil. The oil that comes from the first “pressing” of the olive is cold pressed (extracted without using heat or chemicals) is awarded “extra virgin” status. This is the best oil because it is handled less, thus it is closed to its natural state and contains higher levels of antioxidants, vitamin E, and phenols. However, while you should include olive oil as a healthy part of your diet, you should not cook with olive oil, as heat can damage the fatty acids and create toxins called acrylamides. If you are going to cook with oil, use coconut oil, since it does not under go toxic chemical changes when heated.
Avocados are a superb source of fats, specifically omega-3 and omega-9. According to the late Dr. Robert Atkins, “avocados are not only nourishing they are a heart promoting, cancer-fighting fruit that offers unequaled health benefits.” Not only are avocadoes a rich source of omega-9 oleic acids, which have been shown to offer significant protection against breast cancer, but these fruits also contain the highest amount of the carotenoid lutein of all commonly eaten fruits, as well as measurable amounts of related carotenoids (zea-zxanthin, alpha-carotene, and beta-carotene plus significant quantities of tocopherols (vitamin E).
In a laboratory study published in the January 2005 issue of the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, an extract of avocado containing carotenoids and tocopherols inhibited the growth of both androgen-dependent and androgen-independent prostate cancer cells. However, when researchers tried exposing the prostate cancer cells to lutein alone, the single carotenoid did not prevent cancer cell growth and replication.
Not only was the whole matrix of carotenoids and tocopherols in avocado necessary for its ability to kill prostate cancer cells, but the researchers also noted that the significant amount of monounsaturated fat in avocado plays an important role. Carotenoids are lipid (fat)- soluble, which means fat must be present to ensure that these bioactive carotenoids will be absorbed into the blood stream.