Eating Too Many Omega-6s Could Be Wrecking Your Health. Here’s How to Fix It

One important key to fighting obesity and other chronic diseases? Fewer omega-6 fatty acids in our diet, and more omega-3s, according to the authors of a new editorial published in the journal Open Heart.

Both types of fatty acids are essential for the body: Omega-6s—found in vegetable oils like sunflower, safflower, and corn oil—play a role in brain function, growth and development, reproductive health, and promote healthy hair, skin, and bones. Omega-3s—found in fatty fish—reduce inflammation, regulate blood pressure, and are crucial for the brain and heart. They’re also tied to a lower risk of many conditions, including diabetes, irritable bowel syndrome, stroke, arthritis, asthma, and some cancers.

But it’s important to strike a balance between the two nutrients. As the authors of the editorial point out, humans beings evolved on a diet that contained equal amounts of both. Today, they report, thanks to technological advances and modern farming practices, Americans now eat sixteen times more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3s.

That’s a problem because while omega-3s are anti-inflammatory, omega-6s tend to be pro-inflammatory. Therefore when omega-6 intake is high and omega-3 intake is low, the result is excess inflammation and boost in the production of body fat.

The drastic imbalance in the Western diet has been tied to more than just obesity. It's also been linked to diabetes, heart disease, certain cancers, depression, pain, inflammatory conditions like asthma, and autoimmune illnesses.

Fortunately, there are a few simple ways to consume more omega-3s while dialing back on omega-6s. Here are five steps you can take toward a healthier balance:

Check ingredients

Processed foods—everything from frozen meals to canned soup, crackers, and salad dressing—may be loaded with omega-6s, due to the vegetable oils used by manufacturers. Check labels and curtail or avoid products that contain corn oil, soybean, sunflower, safflower, and cottonseed oils. The same goes for fast food, which is also typically made with those oils high in omega-6s. You can look up the ingredients in various menu items online.

Buy organic, grass-fed meat and dairy products

Research shows that foods that come from grass-fed and organically raised animals contain more omega-3s. Grass-fed beef, for example packs about 50% more omega-3s than regular beef. (For more info, check out my post all about grass-fed meat.)

Replace margarine with EVOO

Since margarine is typically made with oils high in omega-6s, I recommend ditching it. In its place, use extra virgin olive oil (which is low in omega-6s) or grass-fed butter (which is higher in omega-3s than conventional butter).

Eat more fish high in omega-3s

The best sources include salmon, sardines, rainbow trout, and mackerel. If you're not a fan of fish, consider talking to your doctor or dietitian about a fish oil supplement. He or she can help you choose a brand that provides the right amount of DHA and EPA, the types of omega-3s in fish, for your health needs.

RELATED: How to Eat All The Fish You Want, Minus the Mercury Danger

Load up on plants

Eating more produce helps displace processed foods that may be sources of omega-6s. Plus, some plant foods contain a type of omega-3 fatty acid called ALA. It has a different chemical structure than the more beneficial DHA and EPA found in fatty fish; but a small percentage of ALA can be converted to DHA and EPA in your body. The more ALA you consume, the better.

ALA is found in nuts and seeds like walnuts, chia seeds, and flax, as well as Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, squash, dark leafy greens, and berries. 

In general, I recommend aiming for three to five servings of veggies, and two servings of fruit per day. Each serving should be about a cup (or the size of a tennis ball when raw). One way to do this is to include veggies at all three meals: Add them to your breakfast smoothie or omelet, eat a salad at lunch, and include a few servings of vegetables (steamed, sautéed, oven roasted, or grilled) at dinner. As for fruit, have a serving at breakfast, and a second serving as a mid-day snack. Also, sprinkle nuts and seeds into smoothies, oatmeal, salads, and stir fys. Better balance, achieved. 

Do you have a question about nutrition? Chat with us on Twitter by mentioning @goodhealth and @CynthiaSass

Cynthia Sass is a nutritionist and registered dietitian with master’s degrees in both nutrition science and public health. Frequently seen on national TV, she’s Health’s contributing nutrition editor, and privately counsels clients in New York, Los Angeles, and long distance. Cynthia is currently the sports nutrition consultant to the New York Yankees, previously consulted for three other professional sports teams, and is board certified as a specialist in sports dietetics. Sass is a three-time New York Times best-selling author, and her newest book is Slim Down Now: Shed Pounds and Inches with Real Food, Real Fast. Connect with her on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.


Source: Nutrition


5 Best Protein Shake Recipes That Taste Great

One of the most common questions that we see is about protein shakes—they are one of the most common snacks that people use to fuel and recover from their workouts, but there are so many options out there, both homemade and store-bought, that it’s hard to decide what the best choice is for you.

So, we asked a few of our experts about their best protein shake recipes and why they think it is a great choice. Keep in mind dietary supplements like protein shakes are not necessary to help build muscle, or lose fat, but they can sometimes make life a little more convenient.

#1: Green Super Drink

Personally, I stay away from whey and casein because for some people dairy products may have pro-inflammatory effects in the body, myself included. Many people are lactose-sensitive but aren’t aware of it. So instead, I use an organic hemp protein powder. Hemp protein is a complete protein that boosts the body’s immune system, hastens muscle recovery, and has anti-inflammatory properties. I blend hemp protein with a banana, spinach, flax, almond milk, and cinnamon making a delicious Green Super Drink.


Protein Shake #2: Strawberry & Banana

I like keeping things simple with a protein shake, which I have occasionally after workouts. I prefer making a shake to buying an RTD (ready to drink shake) because it’s cheaper, tastes better, and has natural ingredients.My protein shake includes 1 banana, 1-2 cups of strawberries, 1-2 scoops of vanilla whey protein (around 30-40 grams – just about any high quality vanilla whey protein isolate can work), 4-6 ounces of water, and handful of ice in a blender. If I wanted to add calories and slow down the digestion of the protein and make the shake more filling, I would add peanut, or almond butter. Tastes great every time!

Couple tips: Play around with the amount of strawberries, water, and ice. The less water, the thicker the shake will be. Blending the ice to the right consistency is the real trick to make the shake taste great. Also consider adding in some raw spinach to make the shake even more nutritious without sacrificing taste.


Protein Shake #3: Almond Chocolate

I like Almond Plus Milk with Blue Bonnet Chocolate Protein, a Poliquin Electrolyte packet with a some greens, post-workout. The Almond milk only has 2 grams of carbs, 2 grams of fat and 5 grams of protein. The Blue Bonnet Protein is an additional 26 grams, the electrolytes help with workout recovery and the greens generally have vitamins, minerals and an overall alkalizing effect on the body.


Protein Shake #4: Berries & Veggies

My Best Protein Shake – My recovery day shake (since I try to get in more veggies) is almond milk, handful spinach, handful kale, 1 banana, frozen berries, chia seeds, 100% cacao nibs, tsp olive oil, protein powder. Tastes way better than it sounds!Being a fitness guy for over a decade I have had the opportunity to try many different types of protein shakes from whey to egg to pea protein. Some are obviously better tasting than others but one thing that I have found is not all protein is created equal in the supplement world.

A couple years ago I decided to start doing some of my own research into what goes into some popular brands of whey protein. My only question was, “Does it really matter what brand of whey you use?”

Needless to say, I was shocked at what I found. Most companies use low grade whey from grain-fed cows and are loaded with fillers, chemicals and artificial sweeteners. For a society that is aiming for improved health and wellness this is really a step in the wrong direction if you ask me.

What I look for now is a good quality whey protein isolate that has few ingredients. A few that are acceptable are natural ingredients such as vanilla, cacao, and stevia. I choose whey protein isolate over concentrate as the filtering process will eliminate RgBH (a dangerous chemical found in grain-fed cattle). Isolate is filtered through an extra process and has also been found to be more readily available to your body. It is slightly more expensive but like anything else in life, you get what you pay for.

I have found Whole Foods to have a decent selection but some may be a little pricey. Personally I have found better deals online through various distributors. Some of the brands I stick too are EnergyFirst, Whey Cool, ProGrade and BiPro. For all of my vegan clients I recommend Sun Warrior which is great!


Protein Shake #5: Blueberry Banana

My favorite protein shake is very generic but an effective homemade recipe. I shoot for a 1:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio made with the following ingredients:

  • 1 cup unsweetened Almond Milk
  • 1/2 serving plain unflavored Greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • ¼ cup of blueberries
  • ½ banana
  • 1 scoop of unflavored 100% whey isolate protein powder (20-30 grams)
  • 3 grams of glutamine + ice cubes

Nutrition facts

  • Calories-300
  • Protein-25 grams
  • Carbohydrates- 30 grams
  • Fiber- 12 grams

A 2:1 or 1:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio is ideal for refueling your muscles and replacing glycogen levels. Drink this shake within 30 minutes of your workout: a liquid meal, such as a protein shake, is absorbed more quickly than solid food. The fruit will help you restore your glycogen levels and transport protein to your muscles.

Using natural foods such as fruit and unflavored yogurt prevents a severe insulin spike that you get with most “store-bought” shakes due to the large amount of processed sugars and additives that are present. The combination of chia seeds, fruit, yogurt, and almond milk provides an excellent source of fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.

It's as Healthy to Eat Bugs as It Is to Eat Steak, Study Says

Think nothing can take the place of a juicy, perfectly cooked burger? Try a plate of fried grasshoppers.

Okay, so they won't exactly taste the same—and it may be tough to even stomach the thought of munching on bugs. But experts say that nutritionally speaking, they’re a good substitute for beef, and may be a valuable food source of the future.

The idea of eating insects isn’t new. They’ve long been included in traditional diets of cultures around the world, and a 2013 report from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations noted that more than 1,900 insect species have been documented as food sources globally.

Americans aren’t so keen on consuming the critters, but bugs have crept into some Western food products in recent years. Cricket flour, for example, has become a popular ingredient in the high-protein, low-carb Paleo diet. (One tester's verdict on crickets in chocolate chip cookies? Tastes like walnuts!)

Insects have also been touted as a more sustainable alternative to eating meat and fish, especially as the global population grows. The process of raising and transporting animals as food sources—whether it’s cattle, pork, chicken, or farmed fish—produces greenhouse gases, uses water and other resources, and contributes to pollution.

There are surely more insects on Earth than there are fish in the sea or livestock on land. And it’s well known that insects are high in protein, but until now, their use as a good source of other nutrients has been unknown.

RELATED: Everything You Need to Know About the Paleo Diet

So researchers from Kings College London and Ningbo University in China set out to measure the nutrient content of various insects, to see if they really could contribute to a well-rounded meal, and measure up to Western staples like beef. The results were published this week in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry.  

The study authors were particularly concerned with iron concentration in insects, since iron is an important nutrient that’s often lacking in vegetarian diets. Not absorbing enough iron from food or supplements can lead to anemia, cognitive problems, weakened immunity, pregnancy complications, and other health issues.

Using a lab model to mimic human digestion, the researchers analyzed the mineral content of grasshoppers, crickets, mealworms, and buffalo worms (oy)—along with a sample of sirloin beef—and estimated how much of each nutrient would likely be absorbed if eaten.

The insects had varying levels of different nutrients. Crickets, for example, had the highest levels of iron, calcium, and manganese. And, in fact, iron solubility (a characteristic that allows a mineral to be taken up and used by the body) was significantly higher in the insect samples than in the beef.

Grasshoppers, crickets, and mealworms also had higher concentrations of chemically available calcium, copper, zinc, and magnesium, when compared to the sirloin.

RELATED: 14 Best Vegan and Vegetarian Protein Sources

The results support the idea that eating bugs could potentially help meet the nutritional needs of the world’s growing population, the researchers concluded. “Commonly consumed insect species could be excellent sources of bioavailable iron,” they wrote, “and could provide the platform for an alternative strategy for increased mineral intake in the diet of humans.”

We’re still not 100% sold—but we’ve likely got some time to get used to the idea of bug-burgers as the next big thing. And as one brave volunteer in our cricket-flour protein bar taste test put it, is it really more gross than eating, say, a hot dog?

When you look at it that way, a little creepy-crawler crunch doesn’t seem so bad. 

Source: Nutrition

How This Broccoli Enzyme Can Slow Aging

The quest for the Fountain of Youth is getting a boost from an international team of researchers who may have stumbled upon a compound that appears to make cells act younger than they are—at least in mice.

In a paper published in Cell Metabolism, researchers led by the Washington University School of Medicine reported that they found an agent that can balance out what happens in aging cells to essentially make them behave as they would in a younger mouse. That substance, as it turns out, is also found in a number of natural foods, including broccoli, cucumbers, cabbage and edamame.

The compound, called nicotinamide mononucleotide (NMN), is involved in producing another compound that is critical for energy metabolism. When they gave normal aging mice infusions of NMN, they made more of that energy-fueling compound and some of the biological problems associated with aging went away. The NMN-treated animals did not gain as much weight, they were able to convert food into energy more efficiently, their blood sugar was better—even their eyesight improved. The mice receiving NMN were also able to prevent some of the genetic changes associated with aging.

Most lab mice live just several years, so the researchers started the NMN treatments at five months, and continued them for a year. The study did not track whether the mice actually live longer, but with lower rates of age-related disease, that’s the assumption.

So can you load up on broccoli or cabbage and extend your life? “If you do the math, I wouldn’t say it’s impossible entirely but probably very difficult to get the whole amount [you need] simply from natural foods,” says Dr. Shin-Ichiro Imai, professor of developmental biology and medicine at Washington University and senior author of the paper.

The results are encouraging enough that part of the team, based at Keio University in Tokyo, is launching an early study on people — using supplements of NMN in pill form. “It’s clear that in humans and in rodents, we lose energy with age,” says Imai. “We are losing the enzyme NMN. But if we can bypass that process by adding NMN, we can make energy again. These results provide a very important foundation for the human studies.”

The findings are also in line with other anti-aging compounds that have shown promise in animal studies, including things like the diabetes drug metformin, rapamycin and sirtuins, all of which are also involved in energy-making process. “All of these pathways cross-talk with each other,” says Imai. “We don’t know the precise details of how, but they are communicating with each other.”

The hope is that the human studies will add provide even more information about how to keep cells young — and maybe halt, or at least hold off, the diseases that typically creep in as cells get older and lose their function.


This article originally appeared on

Source: Nutrition

Our Editors' Favorite Thanksgiving Recipes

Our Editors' Favorite Thanksgiving Recipes Blog Post

When you work at EatingWell, people expect pretty big things from you on Thanksgiving—whether you’re hosting or contributing. And even though the pressure’s on, we all know we can impress our friends and family with our favorite EatingWell recipes. I asked the other editors what their go-tos are and now I definitely have some new recipes to try this year. Here’s hoping some of these recipes claim a spot on your table too.

Source: Food

Why You Should Really Be Putting an Egg On Your Salad

Vitamin E has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that help keep our immune and circulatory systems running smoothly—but, unfortunately, 90 percent of Americans don’t get the recommended 15 milligrams a day. Now, a new study suggests a tasty way to get more E into your day: The next time you enjoy a colorful salad, put an egg on it.

A few eggs, that is: Purdue University researchers found that when study volunteers ate salads with three cooked eggs, they absorbed 4.5 to 7.5 times more Vitamin E from the accompanying vegetables than when they ate egg-free greens.

Vitamin E is fat-soluble, which means it is absorbed by the body along with dietary fats, like oils, seeds, and nuts. It’s present in vegetables, but the body can’t absorb it well—or put it to good use—if those veggies are eaten alone.

A little olive oil or an oil-based salad dressing can helpboost antioxidant absorption from vegetables, previous studies have shown. Research also suggests that Vitamin E supplements are also better absorbed when taken with a fatty food or drink.

Now this study suggests another way get more Vitamin E out of salad greens and other raw vegetables. Plus, say the researchers, eggs themselves are rich in beneficial nutrients such as amino acids, unsaturated fatty acids, and B vitamins.

"This study is novel because we measured the absorption of Vitamin E from real foods, rather than supplements, which contain mega-dose amounts of Vitamin E," said Jung Eun Kim, PhD, a researcher in Purdue's nutrition science department, in a press release. The findings also highlight how one food can improve the nutritional value of another when they’re consumed together, the authors say.

The study, which was supported by the American Egg Board and the National Institutes of Health, involved 16 male volunteers who were fed three raw-vegetable salads, each a week apart. One contained no eggs, one an egg and a half, and one three eggs. Each salad was also served with 3 grams of canola oil.

Researchers analyzed blood samples from the volunteers after each salad was consumed, and found that absorption of two forms of Vitamin E—alpha tocopherol and gamma tocopherol—was 7.5 and 4.5 times greater, respectively, in those who ate three eggs compared to those who ate none. (That's not counting the small amount of Vitamin E found in eggs themselves.) There was no statistically significant absorption improvement for those who ate the smaller egg portion, suggesting that three whole eggs may be needed in order to truly reap such benefits.

The study was published this week in the Journal of Nutrition. In 2015, the same research team conducted a similar study that found that carotenoids—another family of fat-soluble vitamins—were also better absorbed when salad was eaten with eggs. Scrambled eggs were used in both studies, but the researchers say hard-boiled or any other cooked preparation will do.

Speaking of eggs, the “incredible edible” used to have quite a bad rap as a food high in dietary cholesterol. But recent research has found that cholesterol from food doesn’t necessarily raise levels in the body or contribute to cardiovascular disease. Today, most nutrition experts agree that eating eggs in moderation is safe and healthy for many people, yolks and all.

"For healthy people who do not have high cholesterol and are not at risk for heart disease, having more than one whole egg per day is probably fine," says Cynthia Sass, RD, author of Slim Down Now. However, Sass still recommends getting most of your daily fat from plant-based sources high in monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), such as avocados, nuts, seeds, and extra-virgin olive oil.

Egg yolks contain about 3 grams of protein and 4 to 5 grams of fat each, while egg whites contain about 3 1/2 grams of protein and no fat. "To reap the benefits of the yolk, while still boosting your total protein intake and making room for healthy plant-based fats, I generally recommend combining one whole egg with three whites, whether it's in a salad or an omelet, and adding a MUFA-rich fat source, like avocado, or EVOO," Sass told

"One takeaway is not to skimp on fat in meals with veggies," she adds, "whether it comes from whole eggs, or a combination of whole egg and healthy plant-based fat." Those plant-based sources should also boost the absorption of antioxidants and other fat-soluble nutrients, she points out (and many of them are good sources of Vitamin E themselves), so it's a win-win.


This article originally appeared on

Source: Nutrition