A streamlined stack of supplements designed to meet your most critical needs - Adapt Naturals is now live. Learn more

9 Steps to Perfect Health – #2: Nourish Your Body


Last updated on


This content is part of an article series.

Check out the series here

In step #1, we talked about what not to eat. In this article, we’ll talk about what to eat.

Most of the calories we get from food come from protein, carbohydrates and fat. These are referred to as macronutrients. We also get other important nutrients from food, such as vitamins and minerals. These don’t constitute a significant source of calories, so they’re called micronutrients.

For the last 50 years, we’ve been told to follow a diet low in this or that macronutrient. From the 1950s up until the present day the American Heart Association and other similarly misguided and pharmaceutically-financed “consumer organizations” have advocated a low-fat diet. More recently, low-carbohydrate diets are all the rage.

Not all macronutrients are created equal

The problem with these approaches is that they ignore the fact that not all macronutrients are created equal. There’s a tremendous variation in how different fats and carbohydrates affect the body, and thus in their suitability for human consumption. Grouping them all together in a single category is shortsighted – to say the least.

What many advocates of low-fat or low-carbohydrate diets conveniently ignore is that there are entire groups of people around the world, both past and present, that defy their ideas of what constitutes a healthy diet.

For example, the low-fat crowd will tell you that eating too much fat – especially of the saturated variety – will make you fat and give you a heart attack. Tell that to the traditional Inuit, who get about 90% of calories from fat, and were almost entirely free of obesity and modern degenerative disease. The same is true for the Masai in Africa, who get about 60-70% of calories from fat (almost entirely from meat, milk or blood.) And then there’s the modern French, who have the lowest rate of heart disease of any industrialized country in the world – despite the highest intake of saturated fat.

The low-carb crowd is very much aware of these statistics, which are often used in defense of low-carb diets as the best choice. Tell that to the Kitavans in Melanesia, who get about 70% of calories from carbohydrate and, like the Inuit and Masai, are almost entirely free of obesity, heart disease and other chronic, degenerative diseases that are so common in industrialized societies. We see a similar absence of modern diseases in the Kuna indians in Panama and the Okinawans of Japan, two other healthy indigenous populations that get about 65% of calories from carbohydrate.

These rather inconvenient exceptions to the low-fat and low-carb dogma vigorously promoted by advocates of both approaches show us that humans can in fact thrive on a wide range of macronutrient ratios, ranging from extremely high fat (Inuit, Masai) to very high carb (Kitavans, Kuna & Okinawans). They also hint at the idea that perhaps not all carbohydrates are the same in terms of their effects on human health.

Human fuel: food that nourishes the body

We need to shift away from the idea of macronutrients – as Dr. Kurt Harris of PaleoNu recently suggested – and move towards the idea of nourishment or fuel and understand things like bone broth health benefits.

This means we classify foods not based on their macronutrient ratios, but on their ability to provide the energy and nutrition the body needs to function optimally.

Gasoline and diesel are both fuel that cars can run on. If you put gasoline in a diesel engine, or vice versa, the engine may run but it won’t run well – or for very long. In a similar way, the human body can run on the entire range of fats, carbohydrates and proteins. But it runs much better on the ones it was designed to run on, and if you put too much of the others in, the body will eventually break down.

With this classification in mind, let’s look primarily at how the different types of fat and carbohydrate (our primary sources of energy) affect us, and which of them we should choose as our preferred “human fuel”.

Like what you’re reading? Get my free newsletter, recipes, eBooks, product recommendations, and more!

Know your fats

We’ll begin with long-chain, saturated fats (LCSFA): myristic, palmitic and stearic acid. These fats are found mostly in the milk and meat of ruminant animals like cattle and sheep. They form the core structural fats in the body, comprising 75-80% of fatty acids in most cells, and they’re the primary storage form of energy for humans. In other words, when the body stores excess energy from food for later use, it stores it primarily as long-chain saturated fat.

Unlike polyunsaturated fats (PUFA) and carbohydrates like glucose and fructose, saturated fats have no known toxicity – even at very high doses – presuming insulin levels are in a normal range. Long-chain saturated fats are more easily burned as energy than PUFA. The process of converting saturated fat into energy the body can use leaves no toxic byproducts. In fact, it leaves nothing but carbon dioxide and water.

This means that, assuming you are metabolically healthy, you can eat as much saturated fat as you’d like without adverse consequences.

I’m sure this will come as a surprise to many of you, since we’ve been collectively brainwashed for 50 years to believe that saturated fat makes us fat and causes heart disease. If you still believe this is true, watch these two videos (1 and 2) and read all of the articles in my special report on cholesterol, fat and heart disease.

Verdict: eat as much as you’d like. The majority of the fats you consume should be LCSFA.

Medium-chain triglycerides (MCT) are another type of saturated fat. They’re found in coconut and in mother’s milk, and they have unusual properties. They’re metabolized differently than long-chain saturated fats; they don’t require bile acids for digestion and they pass directly to the liver via the portal vein. This makes MCTs a great source of easily digestible energy. They’re so easy to digest, in fact, that they’re used in the liquid hospital formulas fed to patients that have had sections of their intestine removed and aren’t able to digest solid food.

In addition to being a good energy source, MCTs have therapeutic properties. They’re high in lauric acid, a fat found in mother’s milk that has anti-bacterial, anti-viral and antioxidant properties.

Verdict: eat as much as you’d like. Coconut oil is an especially good cooking fat, because it is not vulnerable to the oxidative damage that occurs with high-heat cooking using other fats.

Monounsaturated fat (MFA), or oleic acid, is found primarily in beef, olive oil, avocados, lard and certain nuts like macadamias. Like saturated fats, MFA form the core structural fats of the body and are non-toxic even at high doses. Interestingly, monounsaturated fats seem to be the only fats that typically fat-phobic groups like the AHA and fat-friendly groups like Atkins and other low-carbers can agree are completely healthy.

Verdict: eat as much as you’d like. But be aware that certain foods that are high in monounsaturated fats, like nuts and avocados, can contain significant amounts of the dreaded omega-6 polyunsaturated fats, which we’ll discuss below. Exercise caution.

These three fats – long-chain saturated, medium chain triglycerides and monounsaturated – should form the bulk of your fat intake.

In addition to their lack of toxicity, eating these fats will:

  • Reduce your risk of heart disease by raising your HDL, lowering your triglycerides and reducing levels of small, dense LDL (a type of LDL associated with a higher risk of heart disease). If you don’t believe me, read this.
  • Increase muscle mass. Muscle is composed of equal weights of fat and protein.
  • Stabilize your energy and mood. Fat provides a steadier supply of energy throughout the day than carbohydrate, which can cause fluctuations in blood sugar.

Polyunsaturated fat (PUFA) can be subdivided into omega-6 and omega-3. PUFA are fragile and vulnerable to oxidative damage, a process that creates free radicals in the body and raises our risk for everything from heart disease to cancer. As I pointed out in Step #1: Don’t Eat Toxins, both anthropological and modern research suggest that for optimal health we should consume roughly the same amount of omega-6 and omega-3 fat (1:1 ratio), and that our total intake of PUFA should be no more than 4% of calories.

But Americans’ omega-6:omega-3 ratio today ranges from 10:1 to 20:1, with a ratio as high as 25:1 in some individuals! This means some people are eating as much as 25 times the recommended amount of omega-6 fat. And it is this excess consumption of omega-6 PUFA – not cholesterol and saturated fat – that is responsible for the modern epidemics of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, metabolic syndrome, autoimmune disease and more.

Omega-6 PUFA (linoleic acid, or LA) is found in small or moderate amounts of a wide variety of foods including fruits, vegetables, cereal grains and meat. But it is found in very large amounts in industrial processed and refined oils, like soybean, cottonseed, corn, safflower and sunflower. These oils are ubiquitous in the modern diet, present in everything from salad dressing to chips and crackers to restaurant food. LA is also relatively high in most nuts and in all poultry, especially in dark meat with skin.

Linoleic acid is an essential fatty acid. This means it is required for proper function but cannot be produced in the body, and thus must be obtained from the diet. However, the amount of omega-6 that is needed is exceedingly small: less than 0.5 percent of calories when supplied by most animal fats and less than 0.12 percent of calories when supplied by liver. When consumed in excess amounts – as is almost always the case in industrialized countries like the U.S. – omega-6 contributes to all of the diseases mentioned above.

Omega-3 PUFA can be further subdivided into short-chain (alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA) and long-chain (EPA & DHA). ALA is found in plant foods like walnut and flax, whereas EPA & DHA is found in seafood and to a lesser extent the meat and fat of ruminant animals.

While ALA is considered essential, the long-chain EPA & DHA are responsible for the benefits we get from eating omega-3 fats, and they form the denominator of the omega-6:omega-3 ratio. A common misconception is that we can meet our omega-3 needs by taking flax oil or eating plant foods containing ALA. It’s true that the body can convert some ALA to EPA & DHA. But that conversion is extremely inefficient in most people. On average, less than 0.5% of ALA gets converted into the long-chain EPA & DHA, and that number is even worse in people that are chronically ill or have nutrient deficiencies (common in vegans and vegetarians).

This means that it is probably EPA & DHA that are essential, in the sense that they are crucial for proper function but cannot be produced in adequate amounts in the body, and thus must be obtained from the diet.

Of the two, evidence suggests that DHA plays the more important role.

Verdict: for optimal health, eat no more than 4% of calories (about 9g/d for a 2,000 calorie diet) of polyunsaturated fat, with an equal amount of omega-6 and omega-3. Make sure the omega-3 you eat is long-chain EPA & DHA (from seafood and animal sources) rather than short-chain ALA from plant sources like flax. It is very difficult to limit omega-6 to 4.5g/day. See this article for tips.

There are two types of trans-fats: natural (NTF), and artificial (ATF). The primary natural trans-fat, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) is found in small amounts (about 2%) in the meat, fat and dairy fat of ruminant animals. CLA does not have the harmful effects of ATFs, and may have anti-cancer properties and other benefits.

Artificial trans-fats have been linked with a variety of diseases. I think most people are aware of this, so I’m not going to belabor the point. We’ve still got carbs to talk about.

Verdict: avoid artificial trans-fats like the plague. Natural trans-fats like CLA are harmless and probably even beneficial, but as long as you’re eating long-chain saturated fats, you’ll get CLA. You don’t have to go out of your way to find it.

Long-chain saturated fat, monounsaturated fat and medium chain triglycerides should form the bulk of your fat intake. Long-chain omega-3 fats (EPA & DHA) should be consumed regularly, while omega-6 LA should be dramatically reduced. Click on the fat pyramid below for a graphic representation.

Know your carbs

Carbohydrates are broken down into either indigestible fiber, glucose or fructose. Let’s discuss the suitability of each of these as human fuel.

Glucose is a simple sugar (monosaccharide) found mostly in plant foods like fruits, vegetables, starchy tubers and grains. It has three main uses in the body:

  • It forms structural molecules call glycoproteins;
  • Like fat, it is a source of energy for cells (especially in the brain); and,
  • it’s a precursor to compounds that play an important role in the immune system.

Glucose preceded fatty acids as a fuel source for living organisms by a very long time, and it is the building block of foods that have the longest evolutionary history of use by mammals like us. The fact that glucose can be produced in the body from protein is often used as an argument that we don’t need to eat it in the diet. But I agree with Dr. Harris’s interpretation that, rather than viewing this as evidence that that glucose isn’t important, we should view it as evidence that glucose is so metabolically essential that we evolved a mechanism to produce it even in its absence in the diet.

One of the few differences between our digestive tract and that of a true carnivore, like a lion, is that we produce an enzyme called amylase. Amylase allows us to digest starch – a long-chain polymer of glucose molecules we can’t absorb – into single molecules of glucose that easily pass through the gut wall into the bloodstream.

Presuming we are metabolically healthy, the glucose and starch we eat is digested and rapidly cleared by the liver and muscle cells. It is only when the metabolism is damaged – usually by years of eating toxins like refined cereal grains, industrial seed oils and fructose – that excess glucose is not properly cleared and leads to insulin resistance and diabetes.

Verdict: the range of glucose that is tolerated varies widely across populations and individuals. Assuming no metabolic problems and an active lifestyle, glucose may be consumed relatively freely. However, many people today do have some form of metabolic dysfunction, and live a sedentary lifestyle. If you fall into this category, glucose should probably be limited to 400 calories (about 100g) of glucose per day.

Fructose is another simple sugar found primarily in fruits and vegetables. While it has the same chemical formula and caloric content as glucose, it has an entirely different effect on the body.

As I pointed out in Step #1: Don’t Eat Toxins, fructose is toxic at high doses. It damages proteins in a process called fructation, which disrupts metabolic function and causes inflammation and oxidative damage. To prevent this, fructose is shunted directly to the liver for conversion into glucose or innocuous fats. But this process damages the liver over time, leading to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (which one in three Americans now suffer from) and metabolic syndrome.

Another issue is that excess fructose is not well absorbed in the gut, which in turn leads to its rapid fermentation by bacteria in the colon or abnormal overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestine. Small-bowel bacterial overgrowth, or SIBO, is now believed to be the major cause of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a common functional bowel disorder that is the second-leading cause of people missing work behind only the common cold.

Most people without metabolic dysfunction can handle small amounts of fructose (as found in a few servings of fruit per day) without problems. But on the scale that fructose is consumed in the U.S. – including 64 pounds of high-fructose corn syrup per person each year on average – fructose wreaks havoc on the body. It should therefore be limited as a source of carbohydrate.

Verdict: 3-4 servings a day of fruit is fine for people without metabolic problems. Those with fatty liver, insulin resistance or other issues should further limit fructose intake, and everyone should avoid high-fructose corn syrup and other concentrated sources like agave syrup.

Fiber is plant matter that is indigestible to humans. But although we can’t digest it, some of the 100 trillion bacteria that live in our gut can. In fact, up to 10% of the body’s caloric needs can be met by the conversion of glucose into short-chain fats like butyrate, propionate and acetate by intestinal bacteria. These short-chain fats are the primary energy source for intestinal cells in the colon, and butyrate in particular has been associated with several benefits. These are outlined in The Perfect Health Diet, by Paul & Shou-Ching Jaminet. Butyrate:

  • Prevents obesity.
  • Heals the intestine.
  • Improves gut barrier integrity.
  • Relieves constipation.
  • Improves cardiovascular markers.
  • Reduces inflammation.
  • Stabilizes blood sugar.

The evidence clearly suggests that vegetable fiber is beneficial. However, just as not all fats are created equal, not all fiber is created equal. Grain fiber – which the AHA and other so-called “heart healthy” organizations have been promoting for decades – is toxic for two reasons: it contains toxic proteins like gluten, and it is prone to injure the intestinal wall.

We’ve been bullied into believing that grain fiber prevents heart disease and provides numerous health benefits. But this claim has only been tested in a single clinical trial, and the results were less than spectacular. The Diet and Reinfarction Trial, published in 1989, included 2,033 British men who had suffered a heart attack, and compared a high-fiber group with a control group. The high-fiber group ate whole grains and doubled their grain fiber intake from 9 to 17 grams per day.

How did that work out for them? Not too well. Deaths in the high fiber group were 22% higher over the two year study. 9.9% of the control group died vs. 12.1% of the high fiber group.

There are other reasons to limit all types of fiber.

Fiber isn’t essential. Human breast milk doesn’t have any, and traditional people like the Masai – who are free of modern, degenerative disease – eat almost no fiber at all (subsisting on a diet of meat, blood and milk).

And while fiber can feed the good bacteria in our gut and increase the production of beneficial short-chain fats like butyrate, it can also feed pathogenic and opportunistic bacteria in the gut.

Verdict: vegetable (but not grain) fiber is beneficial in moderate amounts – about one-half pound of vegetables per day. But think about vegetables and fiber as accompaniments or flavorful condiments to fat and protein, which should form the bulk of calories consumed, rather than the other way around.

Assuming a healthy metabolism (which isn’t necessarily a safe assumption these days), glucose and starch can be eaten relatively freely, which fructose should be limited to 2-3 servings of fruit per day. Vegetable fiber is beneficial but should also be limited, to about one-half pound of vegetables per day. See the carb pyramid below for a graphic representation.

Pyramid containing carbs we should eat

Know your protein

What about protein? As it turns out, eating the right type of protein is easy if you simply follow Step #1 (don’t eat toxins) and base your diet on the healthy fats I listed above.

Protein is mostly found in animal products, seafood, nuts, legumes and grains. Legumes and grains have toxic compounds that can damage the gut. These toxins can be partially and in some cases completely neutralized by traditional preparation methods like soaking, sprouting and fermenting. But the vast majority of people in modern industrial societies don’t do this and aren’t willing to do it, so I generally recommend that people avoid them altogether.

As I explained above, nuts are often high in omega-6 LA, which we get far too much of as it is. So nuts should not constitute a significant source of protein. Walnuts are especially high. Just 100g of walnuts a day amounts to a whopping 266g of omega-6 per week. Keeping in mind that we want a 1:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3, you’d have to eat 34 pounds of salmon a week to achieve a balance. Good luck with that.

Poultry, especially dark meat with the skin on, can also be very high in omega-6 and should also be limited. For example, chicken skin has about 14 times more omega-6 than even grain-finished beef, and 10 times more than grain-finished pork.

That leaves the meat and milk (including butter, cream and cheese) of ruminant animals (beef & lamb), pork, and seafood as the most suitable sources of protein.

Animal protein is easy to absorb, is not toxic and is rich in beneficial long-chain saturated fats and natural trans-fats like CLA. Seafood is similarly easy to absorb, and is the primary dietary source of long-chain omega-3 fats DHA & EPA, as well as micronutrients like vitamin D and selenium.

We don’t need a pyramid for protein; you can simply follow the fat pyramid and you’ll naturally get the right type and amount of protein.

ADAPT Naturals logo

Better supplementation. Fewer supplements.

Close the nutrient gap to feel and perform your best. 

A daily stack of supplements designed to meet your most critical needs.

Chris Kresser in kitchen
Affiliate Disclosure
This website contains affiliate links, which means Chris may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. You will pay the same price for all products and services, and your purchase helps support Chris‘s ongoing research and work. Thanks for your support!


Join the conversation

  1. That’s right. If you’re going to eat chicken, probably best to eat pasture-raised boneless/skinless and cook in butter, coconut oil, lard or other safe saturated/monounsaturated fat. Like Indian food? Butter chicken is a great recipe. But yes, emphasize meat from ruminants and pork, rather than poultry.

    • Chris,

      Why boneless? I save all the bones from a roasted chicken (yes, pastured) and make a broth out of them. I eat all the cartilage and suck on the ends of the bones which get so soft I can actually eat them. I’m sure I look quite barbaric as I do this, but It seems so nourishing, along with the gelatinous broth that results. Isn’t this a Chinese medicine thing, as well? I only eat chicken every 4 days, but I try to have some kind of bone broth every day. I have RA, but am getting better and am titrating off the methotrexate.

  2. Wow. I had absolutely no idea how much Omega-6 was in chicken! No wonder the PaNu blog recently listed all chicken (even organic, pasture raised chicken) as worse than meat from grain fed ruminants.

    Unfortunately, due to lack of freezer space and a few other factors, my family has not made the switch yet to grass fed beef/bison/etc. It was good to see from the PaNu blog that grain fed commercial beef is worse than grain fed meat, no doubt, but really not overly bad as the PUFA levels aren’t that high.

    However what I didn’t get from that PaNu post, but discovered in the links on this post, were just how high and imbalanced the PUFAs are in chicken. Oh my gosh I’m just flabbergasted and, to be honest, a little frustrated (as I love chicken).

    I guess sticking with the 80/20 principle, my family doesn’t need to give up chicken completely. We just need to be a little smarter about how often we have it now that I know about it.

  3. Barbara: as I mentioned in the article, there’s a wide range of carbohydrate tolerance which is determined by a number of factors. A high glucose intake absent metabolic dysfunction seems to be safe for most people. However, the carbohydrates that saturated fat is replaced with in modern societies like the U.S. tend to be from processed and refined wheat flour and fructose, which have an entirely different effect on the body. Also, many people (if not most) who’ve been eating a Standard American Diet have damaged metabolisms, so their carbohydrate tolerance will be compromised. In those cases I recommend limiting carbohydrate to 400 – 600 calories (100 – 150g) per day, and primarily in the form of glucose from starch instead of fructose.

  4. Chris,
    You said that the Kitavans in Melanesia get 70% of their calories from carbs but in your video from May 31,2010 you say that high carb diet causes LDL (small, dense) go up, HDL go down and triglycerides go up. Shouldn’t they be unhealthy? I am confused.
    Regarding chicken: I assume that you talk about the pastured chicken as being high in omega 6? Is it correct? What is the recommended amount to eat per week then?
    Thank you.

  5. I knew “Glenn” was regurgitating Brian Peskin’s nonsense (or is he a Peskin proxy?) before I got the link at the end of his post.

    You can listen to Peskin’s hucksterish interview with Jimmy Moore and decide for yourself. I have never heard a more irresponsible and dangerous bunch of nonsense in my life.

    He is neither a “professor” nor a health care professional. He is an engineer.

    Peskin wants you to “supplement” with his own special linoliec acid, pouring gasoline on the fire, as it were. Of course, you have to buy it from him. Legal action has been taken against him for fraud. See the links below.



    Self-promoting frauds like Peskin really irritate me, confusing the hell out of people trying to figure all this stuff out.

    If you are skeptical of Chris’ advice, then eat all the tasteless factory chicken you want. It’s your body, but I am pretty sure we did not evolve eating grain-fed albino fryers from Tyson.

  6. Glenn et al: the idea that something “natural” can’t be toxic is preposterous. Water is toxic at high doses, as is just about everything we can put in our mouth and thousands of plants like castor bean and rosary pea. “Natural (i.e. unprocessed) omega-6 fat is indeed toxic at high doses, especially when long-chain omega-3 intake is insufficient.

    I’m sorry that this seems to upset people, but that doesn’t make it less true. Our ancestors ate omega-6 and omega-3 in a 1:1 ratio. No, they didn’t have to calculate or think about it. They didn’t have to because they didn’t have access to foods high in omega-6 like we do today.

    While I agree it’s good not to stress too much about food (as I’ve written before, and I’ll write about again in this series), eating too much omega-6 can and does lead to significant health problems. What you choose to do with that information is of course your prerogative, but please don’t mislead people by telling them that omega-6 is not potentially toxic as long as its natural.

    Certainly eating the way Claire describes is going to get people most of the way there, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t try to limit their n-6 intake – even from “natural” n-6.

  7. I enjoyed the article as usual, and really liked Glenn’s clarifications of natural omega-6 as (not) toxic. Chris- I also had a big twinge of anxiety noting that my favorite meat on the bird is dark (not to mention crispy chicken skin), that I love love love avocados, and of course walnuts are my favorite nut. Yikes!

    Still I believe that if I have eliminated sugar, industrial seed oils and processed foods; If I soak and sprout the nuts I eat, and get plenty of pastured eggs, milk and meat and wild seafood, then I can still enjoy my favorite foods despite that they contain high omega-6.

    It seems to me that eating all healthy foods (in the pyramid above) in moderation is a good path, so better not to stress too much about minute calculations of omega-6 and 3 ratios.

  8. So why are high levels of HDL, which are small and dense, associated with a decrease in heart disease? wouldn’t those penetrate the gaps easier than the small dense LDL? I guess the question is what makes HDL good if they’re small and dense?

  9. It is about particle size, in that the small, dense particles are more likely to penetrate the gaps of the endothelial lining. But they’re also more likely to oxidize. A double whammy.

  10. Thanks Jack! I like the analogy, makes sense.

    So then it’s not all about particle size but rather oxidizing capacity?

  11. Good article, as per usual. I’d like to add that it is not only a mistake to focus on macronutrients — proteins, carbs and fats — but also to focus on vitamins, minerals and amino acids in terms of optimal health. This is because vitamins, minerals and amino acids are all isolates and NOT foods. While vitamins make for good marketing, they do not make for, nor constitute, what can be called “nutrition.” There are nutrients and substances in nature’s whole foods that are overlooked as important as marketers focus on selling their isolates. A few examples are carotenoids, pigments, flavors, fiber, aroma, co-vitamins, enzymes and flavonoids. None of these substances are found in vitamin pills. — Vic Shayne, nutritionresearchcenter.org

  12. Glenn,

    I hear you, but O6 is still PUFA, no? And it’s a fat that still is unstable to its double bond structure. Can we not still conclude that the oxidation risk of an overabundance of O6 combined with perhaps and insufficient intake of O3 and saturated fats would still be problemtic, even if the O6 is coming from sources like chicken and/or pork fat and/or grain fed beef fat etc etc. I would COMPELTELY agree that the most important and effective way to dramatically reduce dangerous levels of O6 would be to cut out the vegetable (seed) oils. It’s also probably a good idea to not eat a handful of roasted walnuts everyday. But it seems to me that you would still want to have a very healthy intake of O3 and sat fats if you are going to have a regular and fairly significant intake of even naturally present O6.

    Also, we eat the skin of chickens on purpose, but we don’t eat the skin of cows. And I don’t know bout you, but I don’t eat human skin more than a few times a week, so that’s a moot point as far as I’m concerned.

    Jack K

  13. Martin, Jack, Danny, Steph:

    I believe you have been needlessly confused by Chris’ information on omega-6 oils. And Chris, please read the above posts one more time. You have people actually saying they will stop eating their favorite chicken thighs, etc. to not overdose on omega-6. Does this not seem a bit extreme? Enough is enough. Please let me explain.

    Instead of being a skeptic, you have seemingly gone along with the fish-oil pushing masses and slammed omega-6 once again. I know you didn’t intend for it to come out this way, but people seem to be interpreting your message as anti-omega-6.

    To all those with an open mind: think about it. Do you think anyone every had to “balance” their omega-6 and omega-3 intake in the past? If we had, we would have been having heart attacks and strokes and diabetes and cancer right and left. Pure, simple logic tells us that the balance is not the issue. There probably would be nothing wrong at all with eating 100 times as much omega-6 as omega-3 if it were from natural sources.

    The problem is the industrial oils that were originally clean, wonderful omega-6 before they became heat treated and ruined for consumption. The problem is that also, health writers have continued to call these adulterated chemicals “omega-6”, even though they can no longer provide the function of omega-6 in our bodies. For proof, see the link at the end.

    Its as though a restaurant took your order for “chicken breast” and brought the food out burned to a crisp. You would complain that it was ruined and the answer might be “its still chicken breast”. What do you think? Maybe, if this happened constantly, a new word should be coined for “burned chicken breast”? But the general public should certainly not buy off on accepting the burned meat as a suitable substitute for a properly cooked meal. But that is what we are seeing here. Using one term to refer to both healthy oil and tragically toxic oil.

    So until we get another word for the toxic vegetable oils, and clarify this issue just by using the right word, the solution is just to stop eating the food industry’s versions of these vegetable oils. Eat nothing with “canola oil” or “safflower oil” or “corn oil” or “soy oil” on the label, unless you are buying a bottle of organic, cold-pressed salad oil and the oil is the only ingredient. Why? because these ingredients, the oils, are now either rancid or otherwise cannot move oxygen through your body’s cell walls as they should, so they are not just worthless, they are damaging.

    But its not a matter of balancing you omega-6 intake by raising your fish-oil intake 3000 percent. Just stop eating the processed foods as Chris cautions. Then you will have balance. Then you will not have to worry one whit about how much of EITHER omega-3 or omega-6 you consumed, just as your great-grandparents never worried, and yet never died of cancer, heart disease, or diabetes.

    So, Martin, Jack, Danny, Steph: please do your own research before you decide you have to start watching omega-6 intake, and have to stop eating your favorite cuts of chicken with the skin still attached! Just cutting out the use of commercial vegetable oils will get the polluting substances out of your body over time. The pollution is not omega-6, the healthy original oil found in all foods, it is the adulterated chemical result from the food industry that so far has no identifying name.

    A side note to this is that, in case you didn’t notice it, the Don Matesz’s “recent article” link cited by Chris mentions that grain fed cattle have only 1/3 the omega-3 that grass fed cattle have. Think about how all the extra carbs (mostly grain!) one eats is also cutting into OUR desired share of omega-3. Probably no one would need to supplement with omega-3 if they just at green leafy vegetables instead of the pastas and breads they eat. Amazing.

    Another note: Chris states “For example, chicken skin has about 14 times more omega-6 than even grain-finished beef, and 10 times more than grain-finished pork. ” It helps to have knowledge of physiology here. Chris is comparing skin from one animal with the meat (probably no skin involved) of another animal. It might be interesting to compare skin with skin. Skin is known to be high in omega-6. In the human being, skin is higher in omega-6 compared to omega-3 than any other organ of the body. Human skin has 1000 times as much omega-6 as omega-3. The brain has only 100 times as much omega-6 as omega-3. Muscle has 6.5 times as much omega-6 as omega-3. For more on how much your body needs the essential fatty acids, please read some at the web site that I provide a link to.

    Good luck to the person who has been convinced that omega-6 is an evil substance that should be eliminated from the diet. It isn’t termed an essential oil by physiologists for no reason. For more on how to make sure you know what you are doing with respect to healthy and unhealthy oils, read a few articles on this web site: http://www.brianpeskin.com/

    Best of health to all.

  14. Just wanted to send a quick and loud THANK YOU Chris for what’s turning out to be a great series.

    As Katie mentioned, you do have a gift for taking complex information and explaining it so the non-technical among us can understand. I’m finding that I can forward your articles to my mom, friends, etc. as a great resource that’s completely digestible (pun intended). 🙂

    Boston, MA

  15. Really enjoying this series Chris. You are great at breaking things down and making them easy to understand. My dad uses a similar analogy on fuel to help explain why carbs are not always the best form of fuel and why eating low fat does not logically lead to weight loss. Basically, the if there was a fuel (fat) for a car that gave 9 miles per gallon and a fuel (carb) that gave 4 miles per gallon, in the long run, you would be able to go further using the 9 mile per gallon fuel and would have to consume much more “fuel” to go the same distance with the 4 mile fuel. Of course, once we apply this to the human body, there are many other factors that come into play, but I like the analogy.

  16. I was not aware of this are 2 avocados a day to many???

    But be aware that certain foods that are high in monounsaturated fats, like nuts and avocados, can contain significant amounts of the dreaded omega-6 polyunsaturated fats, which we’ll discuss below.

    Thanks for posting such great stuff….

  17. I think I’m going to address this question (small LDL, lipids) in my first podcast episode coming up soon.

    Small LDL is a risk factor because it’s more likely to oxidize. Oxidized LDL is 8x greater risk factor than non-oxidized LDL.

    Jack: I agree with your 3 numbers.

  18. Gary,

    Here’s a silly but possibly helpful analogy I came up with:

    Picture a swimming pool with a net over it with holes in the net the size of racquetballs. Now place 100 muddy baseballs on the net. The baseballs could represent small, dense LDL particles. If any balls fall through the net, it makes the water dirty (let muddy water represent cardiovascular disease). Chances are, some baseballs will ‘fall through’ the racquetball sized holes, creating a significant ‘risk’ for muddy water. Now remove 80 of the baseballs and replace them with 80 clean and fluffy beach balls (20 remaining baseballs). The ‘volume’ of LDL increased greatly (figure this to be the total LDL count). Let’s just say for arguments sake that your LDL count with the baseballs was 100 but with the beachballs it jumped up to 180. Your doctor would freak out and try to put you on statins. But would you say the risk of balls falling through the holes in the net to make the water dirty increased or decreased?

    It may not be an exact truth that small, dense LDL ’causes’ heart disease. But what has been determined is that small, dense LDL is strongly associated with poor cardiovascular health and a higher risk for heart attack, indicating it as sort of a marker or a warning sign for greater risk.

    It is my understanding that the lipid numbers that appear to be most favorable based on current knowledge is essentially 3 important factors:

    1. High HDL
    2. Low Trigs
    3. Large, bouyant LDL particles (type A)


    Please feel free to throw in your 2 cents if anything I’ve said here needs some tweaking. I won’t mind at all.

    Jack K

  19. Humans are alive, cars are not. Thank God we are adaptive. Maybe some day we will be more regenerative as well.