Clash of the Fats: Triglycerides Verses Essential Fatty Acids
by Greg Post
The intrigue, I presume, is that of battle. As boys we hoped that one day we would
be like these titans. Not in their goofy shenanigans, but in their sheer power. As men
most of us realize that we never were like them. We enjoy the battle from the sofa
or in our minds. But we do enjoy it. We enjoy the indomitable spirit, the raw strength,
the clash. It is part of the human condition. Man against man, champion against
champion.

Most of our battles are fought on fronts that are much more mundane. But they are
real battles. The problem is some of our most significant conflicts are fought on such
ordinary fronts that we tend to ignore them. Health issues are like that. As I sit here
writing these words I realize I do that. I ignore preventive measures because the
tyranny of the urgent captures my attention and occupies my time. After all I have
five children with another on the way. I only have time to deal with the most pressing
matters. When I get sick I must deal with it. But I find it difficult to take extra
measures to prevent the ailments in the first place. If we are talking about a stomach
virus or the common cold the issue is not very serious. But what about heart
disease? Since the early 20th century heart disease has been climbing. Actually it is an
epidemic. Ignoring it could be much more serious than catching a cold. Yet I ignore it.
Most likely so do you.

For a long time we have known that high total cholesterol, high LDL cholesterol and
low HDL cholesterol are bad news for heart health. But more recently it has become
increasingly obvious that high triglycerides elevate one’s risk of developing heart
disease. We hear about it on the television and we read about it on cereal boxes. Yet
we ignore it. But perhaps by using a little imagination we might have our interest
peaked a bit. What if we could tap into the intrigue of the battle in relation to
triglycerides?

Triglycerides are fats. That immediately turns many of us off. Parenthetically
triglycerides are necessary for life and are a good part of our wonderful design. But
we are concerned with high triglycerides. These are the bad guys. They wear the
black hats. These are represented by the wrestler who wears the ugly hood to
conceal his identity. He is vile and unattractive. He spits as he yells his taunts. As he
mocks all his opponents the audience mocks him. The only thing attractive about him
is the blonde in his corner calling him baby. We know she is an add-on but she is part
of the package.

High triglycerides are a nasty business. They have their attractive side, mostly in the
sweets and fats that permeate our diets. But don’t be fooled. They are bad news.
They are not worth the blonde in the corner.

What we need to do battle with this villain is someone in a white hat. We need
someone who tips his hat to the ladies and who enters the saloon but never drinks
whiskey. He is always a gentleman. But he has a deadly aim. Few wrestlers wear
hats but we know the good guys when they enter the ring. They have a neat
appearance, are polite to everyone and the crowd loves them. But in many respects
they are like their opponents. They are human. And they are strong. They just
happen to be on the opposite side of the conflict. They are on the right side.

In our universe there is a sense of drama. It is interesting to me that one of the
greatest opponents to high triglycerides is also a fat. Like two wrestlers in the ring or
two soldiers on the battlefield, what makes the battle so interesting is that two like
things are paired up for the war.

In our battle for heart health two champions on either side of the conflict pair up
against each other. It is a strange concept to many in our age of drugs. But if you
want to reduce your triglycerides do so with another fat.

There is a whole list of fats that are good for us. They are called essential fatty acids.
They are essential in the sense that they are necessary for health. But they are also
essential in that our bodies can not make them. We must consume them in our diets.
In other words we must eat fat to reduce the effects of fat. If we want to lower our
triglycerides one of the most effective things we can do is eat more fat.

Sounds great doesn’t it? Like most things, however, we must be selective. All
essential fatty acids are necessary for health. Not all of them, however, should be
consumed in unlimited amounts. In relation, though, to reducing triglycerides one
essential fatty acid rises to the top like a champion. That one is called omega-3.
Omega-3 fatty acid has been studied and tested and shown many times to reduce
triglycerides. The science is incontrovertible. So much so that even the American
Heart Association recommends two to four grams of omega-3 per day for patients
with high triglycerides.

Omega-3 is found in many places. Even vegetarians have a selection. But for lowering
triglycerides the marine sources of omega-3 have been shown to be much more
potent than their vegetative cousins. EPA and DHA (the two potent forms of marine
omega-3) are found in fish oils from cold water fatty fish like salmon, mackerel and
tuna. Cultures that have diets high in fish (marine source omega-3) show a low
incidence of heart disease. Their blood platelets are less sticky, their cholesterol levels
are healthier and their triglycerides are lower. All this from eating fat.

So what should we do? If we can ignore the potential problems of pollutants like
mercury we should eat more fish, especially cold water fish, lots of it. Not only would
this replace many of the saturated fats in our other dietary choices but it would
counteract some of the damage incurred from less healthy fats.

But for many of us eating fish is the exception rather than the rule. We would rather
have the blonde in the corner. But in so doing we are getting the villain in the mask. It
is all part of the package. Applying a little discipline in our dietary choices can help a
great deal. But even a little discipline may not be enough. Consuming two to four
grams of EPA plus DHA per day to reduce triglycerides takes a lot of fish eating.
Unless you live in an igloo and take a dogsled to work you may find it difficult to eat
enough fish. Fish oil supplements may be your answer. There are many on the
market. Just make sure you buy yours from a trusted source. You want to make
sure you are getting what you are paying for (omega-3) and nothing else (mercury).

Heart health does involve a sense of the theatric. In your battle to reduce
triglycerides enlist your own titan. In many cases there is no need to send a drug to
do a fat’s job.

For more information on triglycerides, healthy diets and omega-3 please use the links
below:

About The Author

Greg Post has degrees in science, divinity and philosophy and is currently an I.T.
developer.  
I confess that as a child I used to
occasionally watch professional
wrestling. For the true fan I
suppose it is pronounced rasslin’.
Once in a while my kids will find a
match on television. I try to
explain to them that all the hard
work to which they apply
themselves during the week to
bolster their intelligence can be
nearly eradicated in less than one
hour by watching such theatrics.
My ten year old simply responds
by saying something in Latin that
I don’t understand.
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