It's not often that I take issue with Dr. McDougall. After all, his book, The Starch Solution was one of the first books that I read after becoming whole foods, plant-based. That book greatly influenced me and still does to this day. I understand the importance of starch in my diet and I have that understanding only because of what Dr. McDougall taught me.
But this afternoon, I received an email from John McDougall MD Newsletter with the subject line of "3 Reasons to Cut Out Vegetable Oil." So, I opened up the email and the very first reason was stated as "Omega-3 fats....can cause bleeding, infection and other serious health effects." I was absolutely astounded to read this. Here, I've been putting flaxseed and chia seeds on my oatmeal every morning in hopes of increasing my omega-3 intake and taking an algae-based DHA supplement every morning in order to ensure that I was getting the right kind of omega-3 fats (which are the long-chain omega-3s that are not available in plant foods other than in algae). But now I get this email from a doctor who I respect that seems to suggest that omega-3 fats are bad.
While Dr. McDougall is correct that omega-3 fats can cause bleeding to be harder to stop if we cut ourselves, due to the fact that omega-3s make our blood thinner, I believe that there are too many benefits to consuming omega-3 fatty acids, and I believe those benefits outweigh the risks. Of course each person must decide for themselves. But Dr. Michael Greger, in his latest book How Not to Die seems to side with me. On pages 410-411, he states that we should "Consider taking 250 mg of pollutant-free (yeast or algae-derived) long-chain omega-3s daily."
As a short primer, our bodies, particularly our brains, require long-chain omega-3 fatty acids. Supposedly our bodies can manufacture long-chain omega-3 fatty acids from short-chain omega-3 fatty acids, which are the omega-3s found in plant foods. The problem is that our bodies aren't particularly efficient at doing so, and the older we are the less efficient we become at doing this. Because of that lack of efficiency in converting plant-based omega-3s into the longer-chain omega-3s, it becomes important, I believe, that we find direct ways of getting the long-chained omega-3s. That is why nutritionists recommend two to three servings of fish a week and why doctors recommend taking fish oil capsules. But we, in the WFPB movement do not want to eat fish and we do not want to take fish oil capsules. And there are good reasons for that.
So, the answer, as Dr. Greger suggests is to take a pollutant-free yeast or algae-derived long-chain omega-3 tablet daily. To put that in laymen's terms, we want a vegan DHA tablet daily (where the algae has been grown in a laboratory in order to stay pollutant-free). There are several options available for this. But before heading to the health store, check with your doctor. Taking pills that thin the blood can have serious side effects with some other medications, such as Cumidin, that you might be taking.
Back to vegetable oils. There are plenty of reasons for not including vegetable oils in your diet. And the other two reasons given in Dr. McDougall's newsletter email are spot on. For a full discussion on why vegetable oil is bad, you might check out my earlier blog posting on that too ---