October 4, 2016

Get Lean & Healthy by Eating the Right kinds of Fats.

fruit breakfast avocado

Food is information, not just calories.

Food influences gene function, hormones, our immune system and even gut flora.

Literally, food controls every function within our body.

That especially becomes true with the omega-3 fatty acids found in foods like wild fish, flaxseeds and walnuts.

These fatty acids plays critical roles in cognitive development and learning, visual development, immune strength, inflammatory function, pregnancy, brain health, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, cancer, mental illness and so much more. They affect every one of our hundred trillion cell membranes.

We can understand then, how not getting sufficient amounts of these crucial fatty acids can profoundly affect our health.

Over the last century in the U.S., we have witnessed a 1,000-fold increase in soy oil consumption. About 10 to 20 percent of our calories come from soybean oil rather than omega-3 fats we should be eating.

Those aren’t the fats our ancestors ate. Human evolution occurred in an environment where seafood was the predominant source of dietary fat.

Our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate no seed oils. Obviously, they weren’t eating french fries, donuts and the zillion other Frankenfoods that contain these oils. These refined oils create and exacerbate inflammation, which contributes to nearly every disease and makes us fat.

Emerging research proves how vital healthy fats like omega 3s are. The outdated “eating fat makes us fat” paradigm has shifted to a new, more accurate understanding of dietary fat as evidence shows some fats are essential for optimal health.

But we’re not quite there yet. Unfortunately, about 90 percent of Americans are deficient in omega 3s. We consume too many omega 6s and not enough omega 3s, and that imbalance predicts our risk of heart disease, cancer, Type 2 diabetes, and many other problems.

Sadly, chronic disease will only increase as we move further away from the diet of our ancestors, which consisted of lean protein, a healthy ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 fats, and mostly plant foods.

We’ve gone way off course with the way our ancestors ate. Big food companies have hijacked our taste buds and our biology.

Still, there’s hope. Science shows when we eat the right kinds of fat, we get thin and reverse heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, decrease inflammation, and many other chronic diseases plaguing us. We can take control of our health and destiny, starting with our very next meal!

To get and stay healthy, eat quality fat at every meal. The right fats improve our skin, hair, nails, and mood. They protect against Type 2 diabetes, dementia, cancer and inflammation.

Some of my favorite omega-3 and other quality fats include:

  • Avocados
  • Nuts: walnuts, almonds, pecans, macadamia nuts, but not peanuts (One study showed a handful of nuts a day reduced death from all causes by 20 percent)
  • Seeds: pumpkin, sesame, chia, hemp
  • Fatty fish, including sardines, mackerel, herring and wild salmon that are rich in omega-3 fats
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Grass-fed or sustainably raised animal products
  • Extra-virgin coconut butter, which is a great plant-based source of saturated fat that has many benefits. It fuels our mitochondria, is anti-inflammatory, and helps optimize cholesterol.

Simply put, a quality fat, whole-food diet lower in refined carbohydrates that’s low-glycemic and high in fiber becomes the best medicine to keep us lean and healthy.

If you supplement with omega 3s or eat omega-3 rich foods, what health benefits have you noticed? Share yours below or on my Facebook page.


Author: Dr. Mark Hyman  

Image: Jannis Brandt/Unsplash

Editor: Emily Bartran


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Tommy Coppola Nov 23, 2018 6:38am

So.. Since I started eating healthy fats and more plants my baseline weight decreased by 15lbs. I still fluctuate +/- 5lbs based on how much ice cream I’m eating because I seem to be hopelessly addicted to that sweet end of the day awesomeness. Sometimes I can resist and just have a hand full of pistachios and fruit but if I give in, it’s that much easier to do it again the next night.. I definitely feel better eating a whole food plant based diet w/minimal animals. I can’t seem to stick to it though unless I’m planning every meal. The availability and lure of refined sugar is just too strong sometimes. I think I’m moving in the right direction though. Thanks for this article. We need to be reminded how important the choices we make about what to eat impact our health. ??????

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Mark Hyman

Mark Hyman, MD, believes that we all deserve a life of vitality—and that we have the potential to create it for ourselves. That’s why he is dedicated to tackling the root causes of chronic disease by harnessing the power of Functional Medicine to transform healthcare. Dr. Hyman and his team work every day to empower people, organizations, and communities to heal their bodies and minds, and improve our social and economic resilience.
Dr. Hyman is a practicing family physician, a nine-time #1 New York Times bestselling author, and an internationally recognized leader, speaker, educator, and advocate in his field. He is the Director of the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine. He is also the founder and medical director of The UltraWellness Center, chairman of the board of the Institute for Functional Medicine, a medical editor of The Huffington Post, and has been a regular medical contributor on many television shows including CBS This Morning, the Today Show, CNN, The View, the Katie Couric show and The Dr. Oz Show.
Dr. Hyman works with individuals and organizations, as well as policy makers and influencers. He has testified before both the White House Commission on Complementary and Alternative Medicine and the Senate Working Group on Health Care Reform on Functional Medicine. He has consulted with the Surgeon General on diabetes prevention, and participated in the 2009 White House Forum on Prevention and Wellness. Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa nominated Dr. Hyman for the President’s Advisory Group on Prevention, Health Promotion, and Integrative and Public Health. In addition, Dr. Hyman has worked with President Clinton, presenting at the Clinton Foundation’s Health MattersAchieving Wellness in Every Generation conference and the Clinton Global Initiative, as well as with the World Economic Forum on global health issues.
Dr. Hyman also works with fellow leaders in his field to help people and communities thrive—with Rick Warren, Dr. Mehmet Oz, and Dr. Daniel Amen,he created The Daniel Plan, a faith-based initiative that helped The Saddleback Church congregation collectively lose 250,000 pounds.  He is an advisor and guest co-host on The Dr. Oz Show and is on the board of Dr. Oz’s HealthCorps, which tackles the obesity epidemic by educating American students about nutrition. With Drs. Dean Ornish and Michael Roizen, Dr. Hyman crafted and helped introduce the Take Back Your Health Act of 2009 to the United States Senate to provide for reimbursement of lifestyle treatment of chronic disease. Dr. Hyman plays a substantial role in a major documentary, produced by Laurie David and Katie Couric, called Fed Up (Atlas Films, September 2014)which addresses childhood obesity. Please join him in helping us all take back our health at his website, follow him on Twitter and on Facebook and Instagram.