Eat by Numbers

Written by Paul Wolf

Some fats, like omega-3 and omega-9, are actually good for you. Learn which fats are lucky numbers.good fats

In the old days, two letters separated good and evil. Saturated fat was the villain and, in moderation, unsaturated fat was good. This divided neatly into animal and plant fats.

But now we know there is more to the story.

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Yes, saturated fat, responsible for raising cholesterol, is bad. But unsaturated fat is no dietary darling either.

The good and bad fats are found across plant and animal kingdoms, says Jack Challem, co-author of Syndrome X, The Complete Nutritional Program To Prevent And Reverse Insulin Resistance.

You are better off remembering the numbers 3, 6 and 9, as in omega-3, -6 and -9. Think of omega-3 and -9 as the good guys, and omega-6 as the one to cut back on.

We need to curb our omega-6 consumption because our diets are flooded with the stuff. We get it from omega-6-rich fatted livestock, as well as, corn, soybean, safflower oils and processed oils. Instead, we should opt for the kinds of fat found in fish (omega-3) and olives (omega-9).

With omega-3s, the issue is not, as you might think, whether the meat on your plate came from land or water, but whether the meat comes from a grain-fed animal.

"When humans were hunters, the fat they ate was healthy because the animals grazed on grass," says Challem. "Those animals are lean and have a fat profile much like fish."

Ample research shows that the omega-3 fatty acids in very lean meat and fish helps to fight cardiovascular disease, reduce triglycerides, lower blood pressure and fight cancer. They also regulate glucose and insulin production to cut down the likelihood of diabetes, says Challem, who wrote the book with an M.D. and a nutritionist.

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