Omega 3, 6, and the Alpha and Omega

“So I see that your eggs are produced from grass fed chickens. Does that mean they are omega 3 eggs?” The farmer at our local market’s quizzical look edged with annoyance told me he did not concern himself with the omega content. “Sure they’re grass fed but we supplement with high quality feed or they’d never lay enough eggs.” I pointed to the carton,”Look, it says they are.” He shook his head and glanced at the folks lined up behind me who were anxious to buy more than just a half dozen eggs. “I don’t know anything about the omega. We reuse other folks’ cartons.” I took my half dozen and hoped for the best.

What the farmer at our market had not cared to realize is that the omega 3 content in eggs and meat is two to five times higher if the animal is grass fed, and in better balance with the omega 6 content. Corn and soy meal feed can throw off the beneficial balance of omega 3 and 6 which should be about one-to-one or one-to-two. It is one of the many reasons why some doctors and dietitians recommend omega 3 eggs and grass-fed animal products.

Our diets are high in the inflammatory omega 6 fatty acid but it is not totally due to eating conventional (corn and soy meal fed) meat, chicken, and eggs. The imbalance also comes from other saturated fats and processed oils. Switching from saturated fats like butter and cream to unsaturated ones like olive oil and nut creams is the first step in a healthy diet. There are many oils to choose from: soybean, cottonseed, corn, vegetable (usually a mix of these three), olive, and flax seed oil, just to mention of few. Each of these polyunsaturated oils contain omega 3 and 6 fatty acids which are necessary for our overall health, but not all oils are equally beneficial. Vegetable oil, corn oil, cottonseed oil, and soybean oil are all poor choices since they are too high in omega 6 fatty acids. These processed oils are also used in most processed foods because they are so cheap. Consuming high amounts of omega 6 by cooking with these oils and by eating processed foods, can produce inflammation in the body and contribute to all sorts of illnesses: heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, Alzheimer’s, and various cancers.

Instead, use oil that is low in omega 6 like canola oil. Canola oil is good for cooking because it can withstand medium-high cooking temperatures. Flax seed (very high in omega 3) and olive oil are good choices for recipes that do not call for cooking, for example, most salad dressings. In addition, eat foods high in omega 3 like fatty fish (salmon, sardines, anchovies, and caviar), nuts and seeds, and leafy green vegetables, to improve the body’s overall intake of omega 3 fatty acids which are anti-inflammatory.

Omega is the last letter in the Greek alphabet and is now used to mean “the last in a series.” God used it in a pairing with the first letter of the Greek alphabet, the Alpha. He said, “I am the Alpha and the Omega.” He said it three different times in Revelations. The first is his proclamation that he is who he is, was, and will be. The second is that he is the beginning and the end, and then Jesus finally says that he is the first and the last.

Between the alpha and the omega are all the other letters that in various combinations form the finite words of scripture about God. People from every age have spent quite a deal of time contemplating these words and trying to illuminate and understand the true God. Jesus is determined by St. John to have embodied the very word of God. His actions here on earth, the words he said, the stories he told, and the incredible miracles he did have been recorded and meditated upon for incalculable amounts of time by those trying to discern who God is and what He wants from us. Who can count the number of books written about scripture, either to teach, preach, or encourage? Despite the small amount of scripture that we do have, we have certainly gotten a lot out of it.

However, God’s most important message is fully revealed in the life of Jesus Christ and the scripture we do have about him is sufficient to bring anyone to faith. Jesus is the extraordinary work of the Alpha and the Omega. Nothing is known of God that he has not chosen to make known through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He is the first and last expert on himself and on us, his creatures who live humbly in grace thanks be to Jesus Christ and who live for his everlasting glory.

Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were everyone of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.” John 21:25

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A Little Oil and A Little Faith

“I never fry with oil. I use broth or a little water.” My girlfriend recently declared war against her bathroom scale and her growing wardrobe, growing in size that is, from an 8 to a 12. She had it with the disappointing reflection in her mirror, with her decreasing health and declining feeling of wellbeing, and she was sharing with me one of her secrets to her success: no more oil.

Imagine a tablespoon of oil. Now imagine a tablespoon of oil in a fry pan and compare it to the amount we really use. Imagine a tablespoon of salad dressing. Now compare that to the amount we use on our salads. Most likely what we actually use is more like two tablespoons, maybe even three. Oil is calorie dense and one of the most likely contributors to our increasing weight gain. Get rid of the oil and lose weight, gain health, and feel better.

Cuisines across all nations use oil. I recently experimented with a cookie recipe using teff flour, a North African cereal grain, and a half a cup of oil, among other ingredients. I just wanted the benefit of the calcium in the teff flour so I left out the sugar but I never considered the oil. The recipe turned out nicely and I started eating it for breakfast. After a few days, I noticed I had gained weight and, knowing the only thing I changed in my diet was the teff flour recipe, I realized that the oil in it was the most likely culprit.

Like salt, oil can enhance the flavors in a recipe. Oil is also one of the tools used to enhance the flavors in processed foods. The more oil, the more taste and the more fat. Dr. Furhman has a neat little diagram of a stomach filled with 400 calories of oil compared with 400 calories of greens and vegetables. The difference is striking as the stomach is quite empty on 400 calories of oil, while quite full with 400 calories of vegetables. The point is that we are still hungry after eating 400 calories of oil because our stomach are still empty, while they are completely full after eating 400 calories of greens and vegetables.

Oil is rich and eating fried or oil-laden foods causes us to overeat. Too much of this type of eating can sicken us, give us stomach aches, and over a period of a lifetime, create some pretty serious illnesses for our heart and arteries. Oil is fat and though some are more healthful than others, a little oil goes a long way. Think one tablespoon; not three.

A little faith can go a long way too. Faith, like oil, enhances the flavors in life. But how do we begin to have faith in our scientific world? People often scoff at religion for its fairytale-like stories of miracles and heaven where angels sing in the clouds. How do we take the historical Jesus seriously? Just wondering if he really existed has stumped some folks. However, virtually all historians agree that he did exist. The historical events in the New Testament line up with other historical texts, and references to Jesus can be found in texts other than the Bible. Making the assumption that Jesus actually lived is not much of a leap. A lot of experts agree that he did walk the earth once upon a time.

But what a walk. Accounts of Jesus in the Bible have him walking on water, feeding thousands with only a couple of loaves of bread and two fish, and even raising people from the dead. And healing? It seems like that’s all Jesus did wherever he went. Is believing all that accredited to faith?

I’d say faith begins with believing that Jesus lived and then died specifically as a sacrifice for sinful man. That’s not much of a leap either since crucifixion in Roman times was a common punishment for crimes, and in Jesus’ case, for blasphemy–claiming to be God.

So imagine Jesus who was a good man by anyone’s standards, letting himself be punished for crimes he did not commit, the crime of hatred toward him, and declaring right up to the end that he was dying for the very folks who were killing him. Now imagine Jesus embodied the soul of God who willingly endured a physically cruel and ultimately fatal punishment to save us from an equally cruel and fatal spiritual punishment so that He could love us forever, even while we were hating him. Going from the first image to the second is the first leap of faith, a fairly large one because it requires the acknowledgement that we are prone to evil and deserve punishment.

The belief that the historical death of Jesus met all the requirements for God’s justice against the evil in this world will flavor our lives with joy and comfort because we can approach God in peace and speak to Him as our own dear Father. Acting out that tiny bit of faith does enormous things to our lives, but getting there requires a good look in the mirror.

For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Romans 5:10-11

Cooking with Oils

sunrise

He is coming

The parable of the 10 bridesmaids had 5 brides with oil and 5 brides without and identified them as “wise” and “foolish” because if the groom came at night, the 5 without oil (the foolish 5) would not have oil enough in their lamps to be able to see in the dark to follow the groom to the feast. The parable teaches us to be prepared for Christ’s second coming. In the parable, he is the groom and his church is the bride. The story is an old one.  I know that we don’t use oil in our lamps anymore; we use lightbulbs. Now, we eat oil but we can sometimes eat oil very foolishly.

Oil of any type is a calorie-dense product made entirely of fat. Oil goes directly into the fat cells of our bodies without stopping. Used mostly for taste, like in salads, and for frying or sautéing, oil can quickly add calories to any meal. The best way to eat oils is in moderation first, remembering that for some oils, the original form of the food will be the better choice, for example, olives are better for you than olive oil. Oil is good for our brain, our heart, and our joints. Consuming foods rich in oil like nuts, avacados, and olives are good for us and help us absorb nutrients.

I usually use grape seed oil to fry onions because it has a high smoke point. The smoke point is the temperature at which oil will smoke, turning it into a carcinogen. Free radicals explode from oil when it starts to smoke. If this happens to you while frying, get rid of the food and start again. (Frying with water, wine, broth and other liquids can also make a delicious meal.) Most unrefined oils begin to smoke around 250-350 degrees F (107-177 degrees C) which is a low to moderate heat. Refined oils have a higher smoke point and are very light colored in appearance. Refined oils are good for deep frying or frying with a wok, or any time the oil is set to very hot. Peanut and coconut oil are great for hot frying. Canola and soybean oil are the worst oils to use because they become carcinogenic when heated long before they even reach smoke point, so be careful with your choice of oils.

Generally, a fresher oil will fare better under heat.  Most bottles of oil have an expiration date stamped somewhere on it. Toss out oil that reaches the expiration date because all oils become rancid over time when exposed to heat, light, and oxygen. I buy oil in small quantities and store them  in a cool, dark place.

I love the story of the 10 bridesmaids because it such an easy thing to do, bring extra oil. I mean really, how dense of those foolish brides. Preparing for Christ’s second coming is easy too. Who doesn’t want the earth and all its beauty transformed into what God created it to be? I know when Christ comes again, my heart is ready for Him. Every day is so precious because it is more time to get to know Him and to share what we know with others who seek Him. Look for Him today in the New Testament. Read about Jesus and how He has transformed this world and all of creation, and us, too. We are on a wonderful journey to eternal life. Start that journey right now because every moment is precious.