Why We Need Fish LIVER Oil, Not Fish Oil
Twenty years ago, no one had heard about omega-3s—we may have thought they were a type of car or a variety of Greek column. Now omega-3 (omega-3 fatty acids, that is) is a household word, considered good little guys that we can’t get enough of. As usual, however, the truth is more nuanced.
Omega-3 fatty acids caught the public eye in a cookbook called Nourishing Traditions (published 1996), which argued that the American diet provided an excess of omega-6 fatty acids with very little omega-3, and that human beings need to obtain these two essential fatty acids in a balance of something like 2:1, 3:1 or perhaps even 4:1—but not the 20:1 that comes with a diet based on industrial seed oils. The total of omega-6 plus omega-3 should not exceed about 4 percent of total calories—that’s less than a tablespoon from all sources in a diet of two thousand calories. (The other fats should be a combination of saturated and monounsaturated, with no set limit on either.)
The proposed solution in Nourishing Traditions was to avoid all industrial fats and oils (which tend to contain mostly omega-6 fatty acids, and damaged ones at that), eat liberal amounts of natural fats like butter, egg yolks and meat fats (which all contain small amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, even if not pasture fed), add a small amount (emphasis on small) flax oil to salad dressings, and choose organic vegetables, wild fish and pasture-raised animal products over those that are conventionally raised—because the omega-3 levels tend to be higher in foods that are naturally raised.
But omega-3s found themselves in the headlights with the publication of The Omega Diet: The Lifesaving Nutritional Program Based on the Diet of the Island of Crete (published 1999, now out of print) by Artemis P Simopoulos and Jo Robinson.
Unlike Nourishing Traditions, The Omega Diet exudes political correctness, promoting a “Mediterranean Diet” low in red meat (because “saturated fats contribute to heart disease by raising cholesterol”) but rich in vegetables, legumes and sea food, with a grudging inclusion of cheese and eggs.