Monthly Archives: June 2010 - Page 3

Fish, Not Fish Oil Capsules

Yesterday I recommended eating about a pound a week of salmon or sardines as part of the strategy for achieving an optimal omega-6 to omega-3 ratio.

Yet this is not the way many health-conscious people obtain omega-3 fatty acids.  They buy fish oil capsules. 

The trouble with this approach is that omega-3 fats are chemically fragile:  their carbon double bonds are easily oxidized.  EPA has 5 double bonds and DHA 6 double bonds, so they are the most vulnerable of all dietary fats.  They easily become rancid.

Fish oil capsules often sit on a shelf for months before they are eaten.  If someone offered you the opportunity to eat salmon that had been sitting on a shelf for six months, would you do it?  No? Then why accept the same deal with salmon oil?

In fact, clinical trials have compared eating fish to eating fish oil capsules.  Fish consumption has an excellent record in a number of clinical trials, but fish oil capsule supplements do not. 

In the Diet and Angina Randomized Trial (DART-2), 3114 men with stable angina were followed for 3-9 years. There was a control group, a group advised to eat oily fish like salmon, and a group taking 3 fish oil capsules daily.  There was a significant increase in sudden cardiac death among the subgroup taking fish oil capsules. [1]

So, give up the fish oil capsules:  they’re all too likely to poison you.  Instead, buy some fresh fish.  Poached or baked salmon is an excellent summer dinner.

[1] Burr ML et al. Lack of benefit of dietary advice to men with angina: results of a controlled trial. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2003 Feb;57(2):193-200.

Omega-3 Fats and Cardiovascular Disease

The importance of achieving a good omega-3 to omega-6 ratio has been demonstrated repeatedly in clinical trials and epidemiological studies.  Cardiovascular disease mortality is especially strongly dependent on this ratio [1]:

This plot shows coronary heart disease mortality plotted against the fraction of long polyunsaturated fats in tissue that are omega-6, not omega-3.  It’s best to have around 30% omega-6, 70% omega-3.  But most Americans have around 78% omega-6, 22% omega-3.  Their omega-6 to omega-3 ratio is 9 times the optimum, and CHD mortality is ten-fold higher than is necessary.

Dr. Bill Lands, one of the pioneers in omega-3 and omega-6 science, notes that the tissue ratio is determined by how much of each type of fat is eaten:

There seems to be no ‘corrective’ metabolic response to prevent fatal tissue combinations from being developed. As much as humans might wish for some protective re-adjustment of the metabolic promiscuity, the enzymes seem to continue assembling harmful and harmless combinations in response to supplies ingested – without much regard to or feedback from the consequences. [2]

So it’s important to eat these fats in the right ratio.

How do you do that?  These steps:

  1. Minimize omega-6 fats by:
    • Avoiding most vegetable oils, including soybean oil, corn oil, safflower oil, and canola oil.
    • Using low-omega-6 oils, such as coconut oil, butter, beef tallow, olive oil, and lard, in cooking and dressings and sauces.
    • Regularly eating low-omega-6 red meats, like beef and lamb.
  2. Get sufficient omega-3 fats by eating 1 lb per week of fatty cold-water fish, like salmon or sardines.

These simple dietary changes can reduce your risk of dying from a heart attack by a factor of ten.

Yet how many doctors recommend these steps?  Indeed, many recommend the opposite:  avoiding saturated fats in coconut oil, butter, and beef tallow; avoiding red meats; and eating lots of vegetable oil.

This is a great example of our First Law of Health:  Every conventional dietary recommendation is wrong.

[1] Lands WE. Dietary fat and health: the evidence and the politics of prevention: careful use of dietary fats can improve life and prevent disease. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2005 Dec;1055:179-92. Lands WE,  Hat tip Stephan Guyenet,

[2] Lands WE,


We are two scientists, Shou-Ching a biomedical professional and Paul a former astrophysicist who began studying nutrition and diet after developing mysterious health problems. Five years ago, we began experimenting with low-carb Paleo diets. We experienced many pitfalls before we found what we believe is the ideal diet – a diet which enabled us to cure our own chronic health problems.

On this web site, we’d like to share what we’ve learned, and help our readers find perfect health.

Unfortunately, medicine today generally fails to cure most chronic diseases because it refuses to recognize their underlying causes – poor diet and chronic infections.

Strangely enough, many chronic diseases which are probably caused in part or in whole by infections – cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, dementia, multiple sclerosis, chronic fatigue, and many others – are not treated as infectious conditions. The reason is that the pathogens that cause them are difficult to detect, and antibiotic treatments rarely work if the diet is poor.

But there is a solution to chronic disease, and it begins with eating a healthy, nutritious, non-toxic diet. On a good diet the immune system can heal most infections without the aid of drugs; on a bad diet all the antibiotics in the world may be ineffective.

We believe medicine needs a revolution. Diet has to be recognized as the way to prevent disease, and the first step in healing. We hope to contribute to that revolution. Hopefully, you’ll enjoy joining us for this intellectual journey.  Perhaps, together, we can all reach Perfect Health!