Joseph Mercola, D.O. discusses the the good fats and candida.

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Q: I read an article recently about how I need to eat more omega-3 fatty acids to be healthy. What are those? Why are they important? Are they all right to include if I'm trying to follow the anti-candida diet?

A: Omega-3 fatty acids are sometimes called essential fatty acids because they’re essential to human health, although the majority of us don’t get enough of them. Dozens of studies have shown that humans must consume these “good” fats in order to neutralize free radicals and prevent chronic disease commonly attributed to aging like heart disease and cancer.

And for those of you following an anti-candida diet, omega-3 fats are not only all right to include in an anti-candida diet, they are of utmost importance. Candida overgrowth may in fact be due, at least in part, to a lack of omega-3 fatty acids.

You’ll find omega-3 fatty acids in therapeutic quantities in flaxseed oil, walnut oil and fish.

By far, the best type of omega-3 fats are those found in that last category, fish, specifically in cold water fish like salmon, tuna and mackerel. That's because the omega-3 in fish is high in two fatty acids crucial to human health, DHA and EPA. These two fatty acids are pivotal in preventing heart disease, cancer and many other diseases.

The human brain is also highly dependent on DHA and low DHA levels have been linked to depression, schizophrenia, memory loss and a higher risk of developing Alzheimer's.

Researchers are now also linking inadequate intake of these omega-3 fats in pregnant women to premature birth and low birth weight, and to hyperactivity in children.

Unfortunately, a great deal of the fish currently on the market is contaminated with mercury and PCBs and as a result may be unsafe to eat.

Unless you can be certain the fish you are eating is free from contaminants I do not recommend eating it.

Your best chance of avoiding toxins in fish is to look and ask for “wild caught” fish. They are less likely to have a high heavy metal content and have a higher omega-3 content because of their natural diet. Even though I don’t usually recommend canned foods, many brands of canned salmon are made from wild caught fish.

There is a way to get the healthy omega-3 from fish without the risk of contamination and that is by regularly consuming fish oil or cod liver oil. Fish oil contains high levels of the best omega-3 fats—those with the EPA and DHA fatty acids--and, as it is in pure form, does not pose the mercury risk of fresh fish.

Adding the omega-3 found in fish and cod liver oils to your diet will: Help fight and prevent heart disease, cancer, depression, Alzheimer's, arthritis, diabetes, ulcers, hyperactivity and many other disease.

  • Help fight and prevent heart disease, cancer, depression, Alzheimer's, arthritis, diabetes, ulcers, hyperactivity and many other diseases
  • Increase your energy level and ability to concentrate
  • Provide greater resistance to common illnesses such as flu and cold
  • Help pregnant women avoid premature births, low birth weight and other complications

As fish oils are by nature very perishable and subject to variances in quality, it is extremely important that you use a high-quality brand.

A quick note on the difference between fish oil and cod liver oil--the main difference between cod liver oil and fish oil is that cod liver oil is high in vitamin D. Many people, especially those who don't have adequate sun exposure, are deficient in vitamin D and would therefore benefit from taking cod liver oil. You should have your vitamin D levels tested to know for sure whether the added vitamin D will benefit you, as it is possible to overdose on vitamin D. Generally, I recommend cod liver oil in the cool winter months when sun exposure is low and fish oil in the warm summer months when you likely receive more exposure to the sun.

When talking about omega-3 fats, it’s important to also be aware of omega-6 fats in order to understand their immense role in health. These two types of fat, omega-3 and omega-6, are both essential for human health. However, the typical American consumes far too many omega-6 fats in their diet while consuming very low levels of omega-3. The ideal ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fats is 1:1. Our ancestors evolved over millions of years on this ratio. Today, though, our ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 averages from 20:1 to 50:1! That lack of omega-3 from fish oil is one of the most serious health issues plaguing contemporary society.

The primary sources of omega-6 are corn, soy, safflower and sunflower oil. These oils are overabundant in the typical diet, which explains our excess omega-6 levels. It’s important to avoid or limit these oils.

A major part of the problem is that in 1900 we had very little processed vegetable oil, which is virtually 100 percent omega-6 fat, in our diet. In the last 100 years the U.S. population has gone from consuming virtually no vegetable fats to consuming more than 70 pounds per person per year. It is likely this unnaturally high consumption of omega-6 fats that is totally distorting the important omega 6 to omega-3 ratio.

So as I mentioned above, it is vital to reduce the omega-6 vegetable oils in your diet as much as possible while increasing the amount of beneficial omega-3 fats, for overall wellness and especially if you’re on an anti-candida regimen.

Dr. Joseph Mercola is the founder of, the world’s most visited natural health website with over 35,000 pages of health information and home of the free “e-Healthy News You Can Use” newsletter with over 225,000 subscribers. He is a New York Times bestselling author whose latest book, Dr. Mercola’s Total Health Cookbook & Program, presents his entire renowned dietary program and over 150 healthy recipes. An Illinois licensed medical physician, he is trained in both conventional and natural healthcare, has been in practice over two decades, and is also the founder/director of The Optimal Wellness Center in Chicago, one of the nation’s leading natural health clinics.

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