by Ronald J. Steriti, NMD, Ph.D.
Fresh omega 3 oil is one of the most beneficial foods for your health. Fresh oil is a source of essential fatty acids, which help keep the skin healthy and the hair shiny. The human brain is almost entirely composed of unsaturated fatty acids. Fats add taste to meals and give one a feeling of fullness when eaten. Years ago fresh oil was delivered by truck, in the same way as milk. Now the oil found in most supermarkets has been processed into a form which is not readily used by the body, and is unhealthy.
Fresh oil becomes rancid fairly quickly, even when kept in a refrigerator. Modern technology solved this problem by using high temperatures and preservatives. These techniques change the molecular structure from one that is very healthy (the cis configuration) to one that is unhealthy (the trans configuration). The result is oil that can be kept for extended periods at room temperatures without going rancid.
Oil is composed of fatty acids which are chains of hydrogen and carbons attached to a glycerine molecule. Saturated fatty acids have a single long chain of hydrocarbons, whereas unsaturated fatty acids have smaller chains of hydrocarbons that branch off the main hydrocarbon chain. Omega 3 fatty acids have the branch at the third carbon, and omega-6 fatty acids have the branch at the sixth carbon.
An important question is what is the best oil that I can buy? Extra virgin olive oil, a mono-saturated fatty acid, is perhaps the best choice in a grocery store. Unfortunately few grocery stores carry fresh, cold-pressed oils. In health food stores, one can usually find flax and borage seed oils, as well as mixtures such as Udos Blend, in the refrigerator. These oils can be taken internally for health and added to food for flavor.
Much of the information about oil can be found in Fats that Heal, Fats that Kill by Udo Erasmus (Alive Books, 1993), The Natural Pharmacy edited by Linenger (Virtual Health LLC, 1998), and Nutritional Influences on Illness, 2nd edition, by Werbach (Third Line Press, 1996).
Most traditional Italian restaurants serve virgin olive oil on a plate to dip fresh baked bread into (instead of butter). This is a very old Italian tradition, particularly in Northern Italy. Many restaurants serve their own cold pressed extra virgin flavored olive oil. They have a distinctive flavor and a slight greenish tinge that is characteristic of high quality olive oil.