Ask The Experts: Dr. Barry Sears: Fish Oils Source of Omega 3 – How Can We Tell if Fish Oils Are Refined?
We asked Dr. Barry Sears about using fish oils as a source of Omega 3 and how can we know that are not polluted?
Fish and fish oils are a primary source of healthy Omega 3 fatty acids. But we’re hunting fish to extinction. And it’s really the Omega 3 fatty acids in my opinion that made us human 200,000 years ago when our ancestors stumbled onto brain food. And that gave us significant cognitive advantage over all other species on the planet, which have allowed us to become the masters of earth.
Can we basically eat more fish? Well we got a problem. There aren’t that many fish left. And every fish in the world today is contaminated. Contaminated with things we’ve thrown into the environment in the last two generations. Mercury from burning coal, PCBs, dioxine, flame retardants- these are all persistant pollutants. The end up in the fish and people are afraid to eat fish, if they can even afford it.
So we we have a problem. The food ingredient that made us human is being taken out of the diet. Now, can we add back fish oils? Yes we can; however, there’s a major caviat – those fish oils are also rich in those same contaminants. Removing those contaminants is costly. So when I go buy a fish oil at Costco or GMC or Ralphs, basically what I’m buying is encapsulated sewer of the sea. So you’re bringing in large amounts of toxins like PCBs, and they’re like the ‘Roach Motel’; there’s two places the body has lots of fat; the adipose tissue and the brain; and these PCBs are known neurotoxins and carcinogens.
So, can they be removed? Yes they can be to a great extent but it’s expensive. So how do you know if you have a fish oil that’s relatively free of PCBs? You can use a toothpick test. And that is take your fish oil capsule, break it open, maybe 4 or 5 capsules and put the fish oil into a shot glass; now put the shot glass into a freezer. Come back 5 hours later with a toothpick. If you can’t put the toothpick through the fish oil, meaning it’s frozen solid, then you’re taking the sewer of the sea. If you can put it through the oil, it might be ok.
So yes, you can take fish oil, but don’t think fish oil is a replacement of the Zone Diet. It’s an addendum to the Zone Diet. The number one thing to the Zone Diet- balance your plate, remove the Omega 6 fatty acid, remove the saturated fatty acids and replace them with mono unsaturated fatty acids. Simple instructions.
Olive oil is king, but the olive oil we get in America is rotgut compared to Italy. And even in Italy, the extra virgin olive oil is adulterated. Because wherever there is money, there is room for adulteration.
Q: What do you recommend? How do you know it’s good olive oil?
Well, basically I use the tongue test; take some olive oil out and put it on a teaspoon put it in your mouth and on tip of the tongue it should taste like butter; then flip it to the back of the throat and basically you should get a very peppery taste, almost a cough-like factor. If you don’t have either one of those, basically you don’t have good olive oil.
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Written by Jane Emery