November 8, 2019
The Western Diet & Inflammatory Disease
Western diets, aka the Standard American Diet, is a recipe for chronic inflammation, obesity, and low levels of omega-3’s. Having too little omega-3 levels is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, not to mention the fact that the western diet includes inflammatory fats that can also increase your risk of heart disease.
The bottom line is that the western diet contains a whole slew of health consequences, and we’re exploring how this way of eating can lead to low levels of omega-3’s. Plus, we’re sharing what you can do to avoid consuming inflammatory fats commonly found in the western diet.
What is The Western Diet?
First, let’s break down what a western diet actually is. A western diet, commonly referred to as the SAD or Standard American Diet is full of empty calories, red meat, saturated fats, and refined foods. It lacks nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables, fish, poultry, and whole grains. It has been linked to long term health repercussions like heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, inflammation, obesity, and chronic inflammatory diseases.
This is definitely not a road we want to go down, and diet happens to be one of the most preventable steps we can take to slash our risk of chronic disease.
The Western Diet & The Lack of Omega-3
Another big issue with the western diet is the fact that it’s super low in omega-3 fatty acids. As we know, not getting enough omega-3’s can bump up our risk of heart disease. And, let’s not forget about the role omega-3’s play in our risk of chronic inflammatory conditions.
The sad truth is that the SAD (western diet) is far too low in omega-3’s and far too high in inflammatory trans, hydrogenated, and saturated fats. Western diets are also crazy high in omega-6 fats, but low in omega-3’s, which leads to an unhealthy balance of omega-6/omega-3. The average ratio in the western diet is 20:1 as opposed to the 1:1 ratio it was in the hunter and gatherer days. This is all linked to modern SAD diets that are far too high in inflammatory fats, with not enough anti-inflammatory omega-3’s.
When looking at the Omega-3 Index, the United States is in the very high risk range for cardiovascular disease. As a country, we rank in the 0-4% range for total DHA and EPA. This is the highest risk range, meaning we simply aren’t getting enough omega-3 fats in our diet, and it’s putting us at risk of cardiovascular disease.
How to Make Sure You Are Getting Enough Omega-3’s
The good news is that there are ways to make sure you are getting enough omega-3’s, and avoiding tipping that omega-6 to omega-3 range overboard. Here are the foods you want to focus on and the foods you want to limit.
- Fatty fish such as salmon and sardines
- Chia seeds
- Hemp seeds
- Trans and hydrogenated fats
- Fried foods
- Canola oil
- Soybean oil
- Corn oil
The Bottom Line
The western diet is full of inflammatory fats but doesn’t offer nearly enough foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, putting Americans at a greater risk of heart and inflammatory disease.
The bottom line is that we need to be focusing on a whole foods anti-inflammatory diet with proper omega-3 supplementation when needed. So, opt for lower inflammatory omega-3 rich fats, and consider supplementing with a high-quality fish oil. This powerful duo can help you boost your omega-3 levels, reduce inflammation, and prevent chronic disease.