Sunday, January 13, 2019

HERE'S TO A BETTER HEALTH!

Top Lifestyle Changes to Build a Better Heart


Written by Dr. Joseph MercolaFact Checked

STORY AT-A-GLANCE 
  • Clinical research shows you can reverse not only Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure but also heart disease through lifestyle changes that can be boiled down to “Eat well, move more, stress less and love more”
  • These four lifestyle components form the basis of Dr. Ornish’s Program for Reversing Heart Disease, which is approved for reimbursement under Medicare’s intensive cardiac rehabilitation program and many insurance companies
  • Diet, exercise, stress reduction and heart-based connections actually alter gene expression involved in the development of heart disease, diabetes, prostate cancer, breast cancer and colon cancer
  • Ornish’s program, currently available in 18 states, is divided into 18 four-hour sessions, which include supervised exercise, meditation and stress management, a support group and more
  • A team of health care providers — a doctor, nurse or nurse practitioner, meditation/yoga teacher, exercise physiologist, dietitian and psychologist — can become a certified provider of the Ornish program

Dr. Dean Ornish, clinical professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), is perhaps best known for his pioneering work in how to use food and simple lifestyle strategies to improve health. This is also the topic of his new book, "Undo It! How Simple Lifestyle Changes Can Reverse Most Chronic Diseases."
Ornish is well-known for arguing that high-protein and high-fat diets contribute to America's ever-growing waistline and incidence of chronic disease. We obviously share different positions on this issue.
Since critiques of Ornish's diet can be found in various places on the internet,1 I decided to focus on what, in my view, is his major contribution to health, which is facilitating an aggressive lifestyle modification program to lower the risk of disease and have it paid for by insurance companies.
It is virtually impossible for most to have the foundational cause of their disease process reverse in the typical 10- to 15-minutes' doctor visit. So, he took 16 years to get his lifestyle program approved by Medicare and many insurance companies, which allows access to the tools necessary to change the causes of most disease.
Once a person has the foundation in place, it will be easy for them to research the high versus low-fat debate and try it for themselves and let their body tell them which position is correct. But the important point is that most of their destructive health habits will be changed at that point.
For the past four decades, Ornish has directed clinical research showing you can reverse not only Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure but also coronary heart disease — even severe cases — through lifestyle changes that can be boiled down to "Eat well, move more, stress less and love more."

Simple Lifestyle Changes Can Reverse Most Chronic Disease

One of Ornish's studies also demonstrated that these same lifestyle changes can slow, stop or reverse the progression of early-stage prostate cancer, and probably breast cancer as well.
"We found that these same lifestyle changes actually change your genes, turning on the good genes and turning off the bad genes, specifically the genes that promote heart disease, diabetes, prostate cancer, breast cancer and colon cancer," he says.
"We did a study with Elizabeth Blackburn, Ph.D., who received the Nobel Prize for her pioneering work with telomeres. We found that these lifestyle changes could actually increase the enzyme telomerase in just three months that repairs and lengthens telomeres. Over a five-year period, we found that these lifestyle changes could actually lengthen telomeres.
When The Lancet sent out a press release announcing this study, they called it 'reversing aging at a cellular level.' We have just begun the first randomized trial to see if this program can reverse the progression of men and women who have early-stage Alzheimer's disease.
The more diseases we study and the more mechanisms we look at, the more reasons we have to explain why these changes are so powerful and how quickly people can often get better in ways we can measure."
Since the early 90s, Ornish, through the Preventive Medicine Research Institute, a nonprofit organization, has been training hospitals, clinics and physician groups around the U.S. Despite the program's early success, many sites ended up closing down due to lack of insurance reimbursement. As noted by Ornish, "If it's not reimbursable, it's not sustainable."

Changing the Reimbursement Paradigm

To address this problem, they started reaching out to insurance companies. A few, including Mutual of Omaha and Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield agreed to cover the program but, by and large, it was difficult to get the insurance industry onboard.
"I thought, 'Well, if Medicare would pay for it, then that would really change the whole paradigm. Because doctors do what we get paid to do, and we get trained to do what we get paid to do.' If you change reimbursement, you change not only medical practice but also medical education."
It took 16 years, but Medicare approved and started covering the program in 2010 — officially referred to as "Dr. Ornish's Program for Reversing Heart Disease" under its intensive cardiac rehabilitation (ICR) program2 — which allows for 72 hours of training on how to address the foundational causes of heart disease. According to Ornish, it was one of the most difficult things he's ever done.
"At one point, halfway through this whole process, they said, 'Well, we'll do a demonstration project, but you have to get a letter from the head of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health, that your program is safe for older Americans.'
I said, 'Safe compared to having your chest cut open?' They said, 'No. Just [that it's] safe for older people to walk, meditate, eat vegetables, quit smoking and love more.' I said, 'You must be kidding.' They said, 'No. We're not.' So, the Director of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute actually did a literature review, and concluded, 'Guess what? These are not high-risk behaviors' …
Anyway, after 16 years, we finally did receive Medicare approval … Now that Medicare is paying for it, most of the major insurance companies are covering it as well … I didn't want this to be concierge medicine. I wanted this to be available to everybody. Now, it is."
The program, currently offered in 18 states, is divided into 18 four-hour sessions, which include supervised exercise, meditation and stress management, a support group (which Ornish says is part of why they're getting unprecedented levels of adherence to the program) and more.
Data show 85 to 90 percent of patients going through the program are still adhering to it after one year, and have better clinical outcomes, which results in significant cost savings. According to Ornish, in the first year of the program, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield's costs were 50 percent lower than that of a matched control group, and Mutual Omaha cut their cost by nearly $30,000 per patient in the first year.

Leveraging Motivation

What really motivates people to make sustainable changes is not fear of dying; it's the joy of living, Ornish says, and his program acknowledges and in fact leverages this knowledge.
"When they change their lifestyle, most people feel so much better so quickly in ways that really matter to them. For example, people with heart disease often have angina or chest pain … [W]ithin, usually, a few days or a few weeks, they're essentially pain-free. They … say things like, 'Well, I like eating junk food, but not that much. Because what I gain is so much more than what I give up.'
That's really the key. It's that we're always making choices … These are choices worth making. You feel so much better so quickly that it really reframes the reason for making these changes — from fear of dying or fear of a bad thing happening, to joy, pleasure, love and feeling good. The bigger changes in lifestyle are a big part of that.
The support groups we have are not really the classical support group of exchanging recipes and shopping tips and types of running shoes, but rather creating a safe environment where people can connect in a deep and authentic love for each other.
You know, 50 years ago, people had an extended family they saw regularly. They had a job that felt secure. They had a church or synagogue they went to regularly, a club they belonged to, a neighborhood with two or three generations of people. Today most people don't have any of those."
Twenty years ago, Ornish wrote the book "Love and Survival: 8 Pathways to Intimacy and Health," which reviewed evidence from what are now tens of thousands of studies showing that people who are lonely, depressed and isolated are three to 10 times more likely to get sick and die prematurely than those who have a sense of love and connection in community. "I don't know anything in medicine that has that big an impact," Ornish says.
Through his studies, Ornish has also learned that most harmful behaviors and habits are adaptive ways to deal with emotional pain. "I've had patients say things like, 'I've got 20 friends in this pack of cigarettes. They're always there for me, and nobody else is. You want to take away my 20 friends. What are you going to give me?'" Ornish says. So, while information is important, it's not usually enough to motivate people to make permanent changes.

Love — An Oft-Avoided Four-Letter Word in Medicine

As noted by Ornish, "Love is one of those four-letter words that you're not really supposed to talk about as a scientist or as a doctor." Instead, terms like psychosocial support or bonding are used, but regardless of the terms, Ornish's program is a love-based one.
"Forty years ago, when I was a freshman in college at Rice University in Houston, I got suicidally depressed," he says. "That was my doorway into learning about this. Creating an environment that feels nurturing and loving, like the support group, is the part of our work that some people make the most fun of …
That's why in this book, "love more" is the fourth component of, 'Eat well, move more, stress less, love more,' because love is really what enables people to make these other changes. It has healing benefits in its own right. Even the word 'healing' comes from the root 'to make whole.' Yoga comes from the Sanskrit meaning 'to yoke, unite,' 'union.' These are really old ideas that have been rediscovered …
More money is spent on antidepressants, as well as cholesterol-lowering drugs, than pretty much anything else. We need to address this. Because what I learned when I was so depressed when I was in college is that if you tell someone who's lonely and depressed that they're going to live longer if they just change their diet, or move more, or eat well or stress less … it doesn't work for them.
They say, 'I'm just trying to survive. I'm just trying to get through the day. I don't know if I want to live longer' … I think just the act of knowing that we're mortal, and understanding what really brings happiness … choosing not to do something that you otherwise could do imbues those choices with meaning. And if they're meaningful, then they're sustainable."

The Importance of Meditation

Ornish also discusses the benefits of meditation, which is part of the program. Among those benefits is finding your center so that you can empower yourself without adding stress. "My whole approach is really about addressing the underlying cause of why people get sick," he says, and a major part of the problem is that we're doing something to disturb our innate peace and well-being.
The answer then is simply to stop doing that which causes the disturbance. Meditation can give you the direct experience of this part of you that is undisturbed and not stressed, and provide the mental clarity to actually notice what it is that you're doing that's causing you to feel uneasy or "dis-eased."
"I would encourage anyone watching this, when you meditate, at the end of a meditation, when you're feeling more peaceful, just ask yourself a simple question: 'What am I not paying attention to that would be helpful? … Then just listen. You'll be amazed at what comes up," Ornish says.
"If you want to learn how to meditate, we can do it right now. It takes all of 30 seconds. Close your eyes, assuming you're not in a car or some place that you need to be looking, and take a deep breath. Bring your awareness to one of these mantra sounds. Let's use the word 'one,' because it's secular and it wouldn't offend anyone.
[Just intone] 'One' … When you run out of air, do it again. Over and over again. What invariably will happen is your mind will start to wander. You'll start to think about 1,000 things you should be doing or forgot to do or whatever. That's normal. Everybody's mind wanders. If you become aware that you're thinking about something else, just bring it back to the sound. Then your mind really begins to quiet down in a very deep way …
What I find is that the consistency is more important than the duration … Just a few minutes at the beginning of the day or the end of the day can really make a huge difference. If you can do more, even better."

Intermittent Fasting

In his book, Ornish also suggests making breakfast and lunch the main meals of your day, and then eating a much smaller dinner or nothing at all, so that you're intermittently fasting for at least 12 to 14 hours every day. This is similar to the kind of meal timing schedule as my peak fasting regimen.
I personally believe a six- to eight-hour eating window is better, and I typically maintain a daily five- to six-hour eating window. The primary reason, from my review of the literature, is the shortened eating window is a more effective activator of autophagy and removal of cellular debris that will contribute to deadly chronic inflammation.
"First of all, you sleep better because your body's not trying to work, process and digest your food while you're trying to rest and sleep. Also, there's a lot of evidence that [intermittent fasting] gives your body a chance to detoxify and clean itself out.
It's one of the reasons why when you eat a healthier diet, not just what you eat but how you eat and when you eat, will make a difference as well. The challenge with that is … that most of us in our culture tend to connect with our family or loved ones over dinner.
When you're pushing back that window to three hours before bed time, that could be a challenge. But, it's just an opportunity for exploring some novel approaches, I guess."

Removing the Distinctions Between Diseases

In his book, Ornish presents what is essentially a unifying theory of chronic disease. He explains:
"We tend to think of heart disease, diabetes, prostate cancer and Alzheimer's as being fundamentally different diseases. I'm putting forth a radically new unifying theory, which is that they're really not different diseases.
They're different manifestations of the same underlying biological mechanisms that are disordered, such as chronic inflammation, oxidative stress, changes in the microbiome, immune function, gene expression, telomeres, chronic stimulation of the sympathetic nervous system, autophagy and angiogenesis.
Each one of these, in turn, is directly influenced by what we eat, how we respond to stress, how much exercise we get and how much love and support we have. Because these underlying mechanisms are so dynamic, most people feel so much better …"
Indeed, Ornish's work reveals these diseases do not require different sets of diets and lifestyle programs. It's the same for all. According to Ornish, this is also one of the reasons why so many of these diseases are comorbidities. People who have heart disease often also have high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol and/or other chronic inflammation, for example.
This makes sense if they're all different manifestations of the same underlying cause. What this means too is that by implementing these healthy lifestyle strategies, you're not just preventing or reversing one particular disease, you protect yourself against all of them simultaneously.
For example, Ornish completed a randomized trial with Dr. Peter Carroll, chair of urology at the University of California, San Francisco and a leading urologist, and the late Dr. Bill Fair, then-chair of urology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, showing that the same lifestyle changes that reverse heart disease also can often stop and even reverse the progression of early stage prostate cancer.
And contrary to conventional therapies, there are no serious side effects of these lifestyle strategies. As mentioned earlier, Ornish is now also studying the impact of these lifestyle modifications on Alzheimer's disease.

Where to Find Ornish's Program

If you're interested in Dr. Ornish's program, you can get all the information you need from his book, "Undo It! How Simple Lifestyle Changes Can Reverse Most Chronic Diseases."
If you would like further guidance, you can find a listing of all the sites that have been trained and certified to teach the program on Ornish.com, along with support groups you can attend free of charge.
At present, there are facilities offering the program in 18 states. Ornish.com also lists about 100 video testimonials, including one by Dr. Robert Treuherz, an internist whose heart disease was so severe he was on the waiting list for a heart transplant. While waiting for a donor to appear, he went through Ornish's program at UCLA.
"After nine weeks, he improved so much he didn't need a heart transplant anymore," Ornish says. "What's the more radical intervention here? A heart transplant, which costs $1.5 million and a lifetime of immunosuppressive drugs, or 'Eat Well, Move More, Stress Less, Love More?' We have over a dozen cases like that."

Become a Certified Ornish Program Provider

If you're a health care provider — be it a doctor, nurse, nurse practitioner, meditation/yoga teacher, exercise physiologist, registered dietitian or psychologist — his site also provides information on how to become a certified provider of the Ornish program.
"Medicare and many insurance companies will pay the same reimbursement, whether it's offered in a physician's office or in a hospital or in a large academic institution," he says.
"We're creating a new paradigm of health care rather than sick care … Medicare currently only pays for reversing heart disease. Some of the other insurance companies cover it not only for heart disease but also for Type 2 diabetes, or even two or more risk factors like obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and so on. Most people with heart disease will be covered if they can go to one of our programs."
The training, given in the Bay Area, is a combination of didactic and experiential learning where you go through the program from start to finish, just as if you were a patient. In addition to that, you attend lectures by Ornish and others to learn the scientific basis for all of the modalities, and how to incorporate the knowledge into your day-to-day life.
Further ongoing training is provided both on-site and through video technologies. To maintain the quality of the program, providers are required to go through reaccreditation on an annual basis.
"Most people who do it say, 'This is what I've been waiting for. This is why I went into health care.' If we're just a collection of algorithms, we're going to get replaced by artificial intelligence and probably an iPhone app before long … For me, at least, it's part of our conspiracy of love. When you go through this program, you can really experience the difference it can make.
We so often think that advances in medicine have to be something really high-tech or expensive … I think our unique contribution has been to use these very high-tech, expensive state-of-the-art scientific measures to prove how powerful this very simple and low-tech and low-cost program can be …
Even in three and a half days, people often find that they have life-transforming experiences, which make them that much more passionate and committed and effective in training their patients who they ultimately will be working with."

Monday, January 7, 2019

THE HEALTHY FATS!!! FOR A HEALTHIER LIFE!

Replace Dangerous Oils With Healthy Fats

Written by Dr. Joseph Mercola – Medically reviewed by  Dr. James DiNicolantonioFact Checked
healthy fats

STORY AT-A-GLANCE 

  • Replacing dangerous oils with healthy fats is one simple way to boost your health and reduce your risk of chronic disease
  • While partially hydrogenated vegetable oils are now recognized as harmful due to their trans fat content, and are being largely eliminated, trans fat-free vegetable oils still have the worrisome problem of degrading into toxic oxidation products when heated
  • Vegetable oils are also a concentrated source of omega-6 linoleic acid, which has led to a severe imbalance between the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio in most people’s diets, and many commonly used vegetable oils are genetically engineered
  • Maintaining a healthy ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 is important for optimal health. Ideally, you want to maintain a 4-to-1 ratio of omega-6 and omega-3 fats or less
  • Black seed oil has at least 20 different pharmacological actions, and has been shown to be useful for a wide variety of ailments, including Type 2 diabetes, asthma, cognitive decline, stress and rheumatoid arthritis
30 Tips in 30 Days Designed to Help You Take Control of Your Health
This article is included in Dr. Mercola's All-Time Top 30 Health Tips series. Every day during the month of January, a new tip will be added that will help you take control of your health.
Dietary fats are a crucial component of a healthy diet, but the devil's in the details, and the type of fats you choose can make a world of difference. While the notion that saturated fats cause heart disease is a fallacy, some fats do cause cardiovascular problems and need to be avoided.
Replacing dangerous oils with healthy fats is one simple way to boost your health and reduce your risk of chronic disease. Here, I'll review some of the key points to remember when adding more fat into your diet.

Trans Fat — A Hidden Culprit in Heart Disease for Decades

Before 1900, American housewives used lard and butter for cooking. It wasn't until 1911 that our diets experienced a dramatic change with the introduction of trans fat in the form of Crisco, the first hydrogenated vegetable oil product to hit the market.
Hydrogenated vegetable oils and margarine quickly became the backbone of the food industry. In my new book "Superfuel: Ketogenic Keys to Unlock the Secrets of Good Fats, Bad Fats, and Great Health ," cowritten with James DiNicolantonio, Pharm.D, we take a deep dive into this topic. In fact, our book reveals how the consumption of soybean oil has increased over a thousand percent from 1909 to 1999.
Trans fats became a staple dietary fat with the introduction of processed foods, and could be found in everything from cookies and crackers to french fries and frozen food. Unfortunately, it would take more than a century for the truth about trans fat to be fully recognized.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) didn't remove partially hydrogenated oils from the generally recognized as safe (GRAS) list until 2015,1 based on evidence suggesting their removal could prevent thousands of heart attacks and deaths each year.
In reality, research by Fred Kummerow, dating back to 1957, showed that trans fat interferes with the basic functioning of cellular membranes. Even small amounts of manufactured trans fat have been shown to have adverse effects on your heart, insulin sensitivity and neurological system.

Processed Vegetable Oils Do More Harm Than Good

In response to research and public opinion, many restaurants have since turned from partially hydrogenated oils to 100 percent vegetable oil. However, while these oils do not have trans fats, they're just as bad, if not worse. There are three significant reasons for this:
  1. When heated, vegetable oils degrade to extremely toxic oxidation products, including cyclic aldehydes,2 which have been linked to neurodegenerative diseases and certain types of cancer. In her book, Teicholz cites research showing that aldehydes cause toxic shock in animals through gastric damage
  2. Vegetable oils are a concentrated source of omega-6 linoleic acid, which has led to a severe imbalance between the omega-6 to omega-3 ratio in most people's diets
  3. Many of the vegetable oils produced today — especially corn and soy — are products of genetic engineering (GE) and a significant source of glyphosate exposure, and glyphosate has also been linked to gut damage and other health problems
In summary, processed vegetable oils (polyunsaturated fat) harm health by:
Creating high amounts of oxidation products when used in cooking (as they are very susceptible to heat), including aldehydes, which are what cause oxidized low-density lipoprotein (LDL) associated with heart disease. Aldehydes also crosslink tau protein and create neurofibrillary tangles, thereby contributing to the development of neurodegenerative diseases.
Damaging the endothelium (the cells lining your blood vessels) and causing an increase in penetration of LDL and very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) particles into the subendothelium. In other words, these oils get integrated in your cell and mitochondrial membranes, and once these membranes are impaired, it sets the stage for all sorts of health problems.
Damaging your mitochondria and DNA by making your cell membranes more permeable, allowing things to enter that shouldn't.
Making the cell membrane less fluid, which impacts hormone transporters in the cell membrane and slows your metabolic rate.
Inhibiting cardiolipin, an important component of the inner membrane of your mitochondria that needs to be saturated in DHA in order for it to function properly.
Cardiolipin can be likened to a cellular alarm system that triggers apoptosis (cell death) by signaling caspase-3 when something goes wrong with the cell. If the cardiolipin is not saturated with DHA, it cannot signal caspase-3, and hence apoptosis does not occur. As a result, dysfunctional cells are allowed to continue to grow, which can turn into a cancerous cell.
Inhibiting the removal of senescent cells, i.e., aged, damaged or crippled cells that have lost the ability to reproduce and produce inflammatory cytokines that rapidly accelerate disease and aging.
Stripping your liver of glutathione (which produces antioxidant enzymes), thereby lowering your antioxidant defenses.3
Inhibiting delta-6 desaturase (delta-6), an enzyme involved in the conversion of short-chained omega-3s to longer chained omega-3s in your liver.4
Exposing you to toxic 4-hydroxynonenal (4HNE), which forms during the processing of most vegetable oils, even if the oil is obtained from organic crops. 4HNE is highly toxic, especially to your gut bacteria, and consumption of 4HNE has been correlated with having an obesogenic balance of gut flora. It also causes DNA damage and instigates free radical cascades that damage your mitochondrial membranes.5
Exposing you to glyphosate residues, as most vegetable oils are made with genetically engineered crops. Glyphosate has been shown to disrupt the tight junctions in your gut and increase penetration of foreign invaders, especially heated proteins, which can cause allergies.

Address Your Omega-6 to Omega-3 Ratio to Protect Your Health

Marine-based omega-3 is one of the most important fats in the human diet, as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) are actually key structural elements of cells, including your brain cells, and not just simple fuel. If you don't have enough DHA and EPA, your body's ability to repair and maintain healthy cell structures is seriously impaired.
Unfortunately, in the past 100 years, our omega-6 intake has nearly tripled while our intake of omega-3 has decreased 10fold, and this imbalance has also likely played a significant role in our skyrocketing disease rates. Eating too much damaged omega-6 fat — found in abundance in processed vegetable oils — and too little animal-based omega-3 sets the stage for diabetes, cardiovascular disease, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, depression and Alzheimer's, just to name a few.
Now, omega-6 fat in and of itself is not the problem. The problem is that most people get far too much of it, and insufficient amounts of omega-3, and that most of the omega-6 people eat has been damaged and oxidized through processing. Evidence implicating excessive consumption of omega-6-rich vegetable oils as a direct cause of heart disease include but is not limited to:6
The amount of linoleic acid in adipose tissue and platelets is positively associated with coronary artery disease, and studies7 measuring changes in linoleic acid concentrations in adipose tissue in Americans show concentrations increased from 9.1 percent in 1959 to 21.5 percent in 2008. This increase also paralleled increases in the prevalence of obesity, diabetes and asthma.
Conversely, the long-chained omega-3s docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) have been shown to protect against coronary artery disease, which is why maintaining a healthy balance between omega-3 and omega-6 is so important.
Patients with atherosclerosis have higher amounts of linoleic acid oxidation products in their plasma, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and atherosclerotic plaques.
Oxidation of linoleic acid begins before any clinical signs of atherosclerosis become apparent.
When the endothelium (the interior lining of your blood vessels) is exposed to linoleic acid, LDL transfer across the endothelium is increased and this is an essential step in the atherosclerotic process.
Low linoleic acid diets reduce LDL oxidation.
A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials in humans showed that when saturated fat and trans fat are replaced with omega-6 PUFAs, all-cause mortality, ischemic heart disease mortality and cardiovascular mortality increase.
Oxidation products of linoleic acid are found in infarcted tissue.
The linoleic acid metabolite 9-HODE is a strong promoter of inflammation, and may be both a marker for and inducer of atherosclerosis.

How to Balance Your Omega Fat Ratios

Ideally, you want to maintain a ratio somewhere in the range of (4-2)-to-1 of omega-6 and omega-3 fats. This, however, is nearly impossible if you're regularly eating processed foods or restaurant fare, as these are loaded with omega-6 from industrial vegetable oils like corn oil and canola oil.
While you do need omega-6, it should be in its unprocessed form, not industrial vegetable oils. Good sources are whole, raw plant seeds and tree nuts. In summary, to correct your omega-6 to omega-3 ratio, you typically need to do two things:
1. Significantly decrease intake of damaged omega-6 by avoiding processed foods and foods cooked in vegetable oil at high temperatures. A number of studies8,9 have found that people who regularly eat deep-fried foods have a significantly increased risk of stroke and death.
Common sources of harmful omega-6 to avoid include corn oil, canola oil, soy oil, hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats, margarine and shortening.
2. Increase your intake of marine-based omega-3 fats. Ideal sources include small fatty fish such as sardines, anchovies and herring, along with wild-caught Alaskan salmon, or a supplement such as krill oil.

Healthiest Fats for Cooking

Getting back to cooking oils, if vegetable oils are "out," what should you use to cook with? Healthy alternatives include:
• Coconut oil — This is what I believe is the best cooking oil. It has a number of valuable health benefits, including a positive effect on your heart and antimicrobial properties. It's also a great source of energy, thanks to its medium-chain fatty acids (MCFAs). When consumed, the MCFAs are digested and converted by your liver into energy that you can immediately use. Coconut oil also helps stimulate your metabolism to encourage a healthy weight profile.
• Grass fed butter — Raw, organic butter made from healthy grass fed cows' milk contains many valuable nutrients, including vitamins A, D, E and K2. Furthermore, it contains various minerals and antioxidants that support good health.
• Organic ghee, which has been used for cooking for thousands of years, is another good choice.
• Olive oil — This oil contains healthy fatty acids that can help lower your risk of heart disease. While the standard recommendation has been to avoid using olive oil for cooking and to only use it cold, recent research10 in which 10 popular cooking oils were compared, contradicts this advice, showing extra-virgin olive oil actually scored best for both oxidative stability and lack of harmful compounds produced when heated.
A word of caution is warranted, however. Fake olive oil abounds, so it's important to take the time to investigate your sources. Tests reveal anywhere from 60 to 90 percent of the olive oils sold in American grocery stores and restaurants are adulterated with cheap vegetable oils or nonhuman-grade olive oils, which are harmful to health in a number of ways.11
For tips on how to assess the quality of your olive oil, see the short video below. For more information, see "Is Your Olive Oil Fake?" where I cover this topic in-depth.
Peanut oil and sesame oil are two other healthy options. While both are high in omega-6, peanut oil is high in antioxidants, and sesame oil has been shown to benefit diabetics. The caveat with these two oils is that you need to consume them unheated and in moderation, so as not to throw off your omega-6 to omega-3 ratio.
healthiest cooking oil

Black Seed Oil — The Forgotten Gem

Black seed (Nigella Sativa) oil is another exceptional fat with a long history of use in traditional systems of medicine, including Ayurveda and Siddha. The most abundant active plant chemical in black seed is thymoquinone; other bioactive compounds include α-hederin, alkaloids, flavonoids, antioxidants and fatty acids.
As for its antioxidant activity, black cumin seed has been found to be far more potent than vitamin C.12In modern times, researchers have confirmed Nigella Sativa may be helpful for:
Type 2 diabetes — In one study, Nigella sativa improved glucose tolerance as efficiently as metformin.13 It's also been shown to improve the performance of antidiabetic medication14
Reducing asthma symptoms — In one study,15 thymoquinone was found to be instrumental, by reducing two inflammatory mediators of asthma and other inflammatory processes.
Another study16 found black cumin seed also acts as a relaxant, and displays both anticholinergic (reducing spasms in smooth muscle) and antihistaminic (blocking allergic reactions) effects. Here, thymoquinone was found to be superiorto the asthma drug fluticasone (a synthetic glucocorticoid)
Enhancing memory and reducing stress — The results showed black cumin seed inhibited stress-induced biochemical changes in a dose-dependent manner. Memory and cognition was also dose-dependent17
Reducing damage caused by cadmium poisoning18 — May also serve as prophylactic against chemical warfare agents
Protecting against and attenuating aflatoxicosis19
Alleviating symptoms of allergic rhinitis20
Candidiasis21
Cancer23,24,25
Black seed oil has at least 20 different pharmacological actions, which helps explain how it can be useful for so many different and varying ailments, including:26
Antidiabetic
Anti-cancer
Immunomodulatory
Analgesic (pain relief)
Antimicrobial
Anti-inflammatory
Spasmolytic
Bronchodilator27
Hepatoprotective
Renal protective
Gastroprotective
Antioxidant

How to Use Black Seed Oil

Black seed oil is a highly undervalued and oft-forgotten kitchen staple. When used in cooking, it imparts a warm, slightly bitter flavor that tastes something like a blend of thyme, oregano and nutmeg.
A mixture of black seed oil, honey and garlic also makes for a powerful tonic that can help soothe coughs and boost immunity, especially during cold and flu season or if you feel like you're coming down with an infection.28
Like all seeds, black seed oil is high in polyunsaturated fats. So, when taken in excess, it could make your mitochondrial membranes more susceptible to oxidation.
For this reason, I suggest limiting your daily intake to 1 to 2 tablespoons or less. A simple way to get a small amount of black seed oil into your diet on a regular basis is to use it in your homemade dressing. Here are a few suggestions:
  • Mix apple cider vinegar, black seed oil, fresh lemon juice, cilantro and tahini. Experiment with the ratios to enhance the flavor you enjoy the most
  • A simple and yummy dressing that goes particularly well with broccoli, asparagus or salad greens includes: 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, one-half teaspoon minced garlic, a dash of ground black pepper and a few fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • Alternatively, you can use apple cider vinegar and/or black seed oil as substitutes for other oils and vinegars in whatever dressing recipe you're already using. Keep in mind that the black seed oil does have a spicy kick to it, so substituting the full amount may make it too spicy. Start by adding just a small amount, and experiment to find the ratio of vinegar, olive oil and black seed oil you enjoy

Optimize Your Health by Selecting the Right Fats

The list below, obtained from Dr. Cate Shanahan, author of "Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food," summarizes some of the best and worst fats found in our modern diet. Replacing the bad fats in your diet with ones from the "good" list is a simple way to safeguard your health without making any radical changes.
To learn more about the ins and outs of dietary fats, pick up a copy of my latest book, "Superfuel: Ketogenic Keys to Unlock the Secrets of Good Fats, Bad Fats, and Great Health," cowritten with James DiNicolantonio, Pharm.D., which gives more in-depth specifics on how to discriminate between healthy and harmful dietary fats.