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The Queen of Fats: Why Omega-3s Were Removed from the Western Diet and What We Can Do to Replace Them (California Studies in Food and Culture) Paperback – January 30, 2008
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"Susan Allport’s account of the discovery of omega-3 fatty acids combines colorful science, intriguing personalities, and a well-digested biochemistry into a convincing recipe for a healthier diet. The Queen of Fats is a fascinating new detective storywith a solution that matters!"Richard Wrangham, author of Demonic Males: Apes and the Origins of Human Violence
"The Queens of Fats is a fascinating nutritional detective story delivering a big surprise: how one of the most important changes to the diet wrought by industrialization of food went unnoticed. But if Allport is right, the disappearance of omega-3s from the Western diet is the key to understanding why that diet is making us so sick."Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals
"Allport provides a fascinating 'whodunit' about the discovery of how fats work, what wonders omega-3s could perform in thwarting chronic disease, and a timely warning to the world about the imbalance of essential fats in the food supply. I reveled in the twists and turns of nutrition history as it unfolds and uncovers the ways food processing carries hefty health risks, as well as benefits."Sharron Dalton, author of Our Overweight Children: What Parents, Schools, and Communities Can Do to Control the Fatness Epidemic
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You'll learn such things as:
* How omega-3s got their name
* How they were discovered and by whom
* Why omega-3s are removed from processed foods
* Disease that can occur because of fatty acid deficiencies
* Why reducing omega-6s in the diet is as important as increasing omega-3s
* Why grains are rich in omega-6s and greens are rich in omega-3s
* The difference between omega-3s found in flax seeds and those found in fish
* Why Eskimos eat a lot of fat but are free of heart disease
* The role of fatty acids in promoting or reducing inflammation
* Why some important research findings never gets published
* The role of fatty acids in metabolism
* Where and why the various fatty acids are found in high concentrations in humans and animals
* How to incorporate more omega-3s in your diet and find a healthy balance between omega-3s and omega-6s.
Allport writes, "Trying to undertand health and diet without an appreciation of these fats is like trying to understand earthquakes without knowledge of plate tectonics, or motion without knowledge of physics. Until we revise our food and guidelines to incorporate all that has been learned about omega-3 fatty acids in the past fifty years, our diet will be lacking in a very important way."
To address the hubbub regarding Atkins, Allport claims that the Atkins diet (or any low-carb diet, it seems) is dangerous, because the weight lost on such a diet is really muscle loss due to the body breaking down muscle proteins to create glucose for the brain that supposedly cannot rely entirely on ketones. Also, the increased intake of protein can lead to organ failure and a wasting condition known as "rabbit starvation."
From my understanding, the brain actually prefers ketones, and rabbit starvation occurs when too much protein and not enough fat are consumed (rabbits are very, very lean). The low-carb diet I followed involved replacing carbs with fat-not protein. And anyone who's lost weight on a low-carb diet can tell you they lost fat. It's no "illusion," as Allport claims. I suggest that if you want to learn about low-carb diets, that you read books specific to them, not books on the history of fatty acids.
The low-carb issue aside, I love this book (I've read it three times) and recommend it to anyone who wants to learn more about fatty acids and the history of fatty acid science. Allport's writing is exceptional, and The Queen of Fats remains a valuable addition to my health library.