The Formula For Life diet is moderate in total fat (~35%), low in saturated fat (7-8%), high in monounsaturated fat and balanced in (n-6) and (n-3) essential fatty acids. The principal foods that contribute to fat intake are butter, margarine, vegetable oils, visible fat on meat and poultry products, whole milk, egg yolks, nuts, and baked goods.
Here is what we are looking for:
- Saturated fat – Reduce by limiting fatty red meat and dairy products (butter, whole milk, cheese) and greasy foods made with lard or butter or grease (fried food, chips, pastries, cakes, pies, and other creamy or buttery foods).
- Monounsaturated fat – use olive oil and canola oil
- Trans fat – avoid anything that has partially hydrogenated fat. The 10 worse are: spreads (margarines); Packaged foods (cakes mixes and Bisquick); Soups (ramen noodles and soup cups); fast food (deep-fried); frozen foods (pies, pot pies, breaded fish sticks – even if the label says low-fat, it can contain trans fat); baked goods (commercially baked products and the worst – doughnuts, cookies, and cakes.); chips and cracker; breakfast food (cereal and energy bars); cookies and candy; toppings and dips (flavored coffees, nondairy creamers, whipped toppings, gravy mixes and salad dressings).
- You need to read the label. The above categories are good guidelines, but manufactures are trying harder to eliminate trans fat. If there is a product you want, check it out. It should either specifically state there are no trans fats AND/OR not include “partially hydrogenated” as an ingredient.
- Polyunsaturated fat – most Americans have a n-6 to n-3 ratio of 12:1. We desire a ratio of around 1:1 to 4:1.
- Omega-3 (we need to increase) – have two servings of fatty fish every week, flaxseed oil, flax seed, salmon oil, sardine oil, canola oil, and walnuts.
- Omega-6 (we need to decrease) – avoid corn oil, sesame oil, apricot oil, avocado oil, safflower seed oil, brazil nuts, peanuts, peanut butter, and palm oil.
The two forms of omega-3 that are most important for the body are eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA (20:5(n-3))) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA (C22:6(n-3))), both of which are found in fish.
A third form of omega-3 is alpha-linolenic acid (LNA (C18:3 (n-3))). This is found primarily in tofu, soybeans, canola, walnut and flaxseed, and their oils. The body converts LNA into EPA and DHA in a modest amount, about 1 gram for every 10 grams of LNA consumed.
How much do you need. The AHA recommends about 1 gram of EPA+DHA per day (7-grams a week) from fatty fish. If you eat generous portions of fatty fish twice a week you will probably satisfy this requirement (mackerel, lake trout, herring, sardines, albacore tuna and salmon). If you need to lower your blood triglycerides, then 2-4 grams of EPA+DHA per day are recommended. At this level it will probably be necessary to consume your omega-3 as a supplement. DO NOT increase beyond 3 grams per day without your doctors knowledge.
How much LNA should you have? If you eat fish, as recommended above, then about 2 grams per day of LNA should be enough. However, if you don’t eat fish, then LNA becomes your only source of omega-3 and it takes about 10 grams of LNA to make one gram of EPA+DHA. This means you may need 10 -12 grams of LNA every day.