Newswise — Eating fish is not the only way of increasing the omega-3s in our diet, as "The Queen of Fats: Why Omega-3s were removed from our diet and what we can do to replace them," by science writer Susan Allport shows.
Many of the foods we eat every day, including eggs and bacon, used to be full of these essential nutrients -- when the animals they came from were eating grass, insects, and other green foods. Omega-3s originate in the green leaves of plants (not fish, as many people believe), and they accumulate in animals that eat those leaves, including fish.
Now that our livestock eat mostly seeds and grains, our foods are full of a second family of polyunsaturated fats, omega-6s which are much more prevalent in those parts of plants. This second family of polyunsaturated fats is also essential for health, but it competes with omega-3s for positions in cell membranes and affects cells in different ways. Fats in this family are not as dynamic, or speedy, as omega-3s. They also produce cell messengers called prostaglandins that are far more inflammatory and far more likely to cause thrombosis or blood clotting. As our reliance on seeds and seed oils has increased since the turn of the last century, so has the incidence of heart disease and other inflammatory disorders.
It may not be practical for us to eat only grass-fed meats and eggs. But it's also not possible for us to catch, or raise, enough fish to correct this problem. We can, however, increase our omega-3s by eating small amounts of fish and grass-fed animals and using vegetable oils with a healthier balance of omega-6s to omega-3s. The Queen of Fats (University of California Press), out in paperback February, 2008 and described as a "must read" by physicians and nutritionists, explains the reasoning behind these simple steps and tells the compelling history of the omega-3 research.