Myth 1: All Fat Is Bad
As we’ve seen, dietary fat is essential for survival and health. So viewing all fat as the same — bad — can set a person up for deficiencies in certain key nutrients. And if you’re eating less fat, then you’re eating more of something else. If that something else is refined white flour and sugar, that’s hardly an improvement, and may actually harm you more than a higher-fat diet. (Although practically speaking, diets high in saturated and trans fats also tend to contain lots of processed and artificial foods as well, so it typically doesn’t operate as a zero-sum game.)
Omega Fatty Acids
Since your body can’t manufacture its own omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids, you have to get them from food. And while you need both, the ratio between them is important. Not enough omega-3 fatty acids compared with omega-6s can contribute to inflammation in the body. An ideal ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 appears to be somewhere between 4:1 and 1:1, a range associated with better heart and brain health, less inflammation, reduced risk of cancer, and even higher IQ scores.
The modern industrialized diet doesn’t come close to this ratio, unfortunately. Some sources estimate that the average American consumes at least 14 times more omega-6 than omega-3 fatty acids. If you’re looking to reduce omega-6s (which most of us need to), reduce or eliminate the consumption of processed foods containing sunflower oil, corn oil, safflower oil, and cottonseed oil.
There are three main types of omega-3 fats — EPA, DHA, and ALA. Your body needs EPA and DHA, which are “long chain” versions. The good news is your body can synthesize these compounds from ALA, which you can get in abundance from flax and chia seeds (as well as lesser amounts from walnuts, hemp seeds, and canola oil).
Unfortunately, not all bodies convert ALA into EPA and DHA efficiently, so you could be deficient in the latter two if you don’t eat fish or take an algae-derived supplement. After all, the EPA and DHA that fish have in their tissue comes from algae in the first place. (For more on the health, ethical, and environmental impacts of fish, see our article here.)
That’s why many vegan health experts recommend taking an algae-based EPA/DHA supplement. (My personal favorite comes from Complement, and also incorporates other critical nutrients that can be hard to source on an exclusively plant-based diet. You can find out more here. And if you make a purchase from that link, a contribution will also be made to FRN’s work. Thank you!)
( Excerpt taken fro the Food Revolution Network)