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August 21, 2010



I'm right here with you on your spin for the diet. I have added fish (wild salmon) and flax fed chicken eggs back to my diet.

In your post, you said, "Turns out, coho salmon and canned salmon are very lean, low in saturated fat, high in EPA & DHA , and have almost non-existent levels of toxins." Can you tell me more or point me to some references? I wan to read more!

Thanks for all you do! Here's to health. xoxo


Thank you for sharing your knowledge and insights. I found your site after I started my own Dr. Esselstyn book inspired eating changes. It has been a little over 7 weeks for me this go around (did a few weeks in January). It has been very successful in improving how I feel and my weight. I am finding it fascinating to learn more and more about the complexities of nutrition optimization. I enjoy and respect your evidence based approach. As always in life, the more I learn...the more I can learn.


Why not just eat some grass-fed beef and get ideal ratios of Omega 3 along with some CLA?

Healthy Librarian

Hi Alex,

I'm not fond of beef, but even if I was, the omega-3s in cold-water salmon far exceed those of grass-fed beef. Grass fed beef also has a less-healthy ratio of omega-3s to omega-6s, and this is long-chain omega-6, the most inflammatory type.
Finally, all the positive research I'm writing about is about fish oil, and cold-water fish. No one, that I am aware of is recommending grass-fed beef over cold-water fish in the medical literature. Sure, it would be a better alternative to grain-fed beef--but not to fish oil.

1 lean grass-fed beef steak

Total Omega-3 fatty acids
44.9 mg

Total Omega-6 fatty acids
171 mg

6 ounces of Coho Wild Salmon

2,235 mg of omega-3 fatty acids (1844 mg EPA +DHA)

Vitamin D3
about 747 IUs

Astaxanthin (a carotene-type anti-oxidant)
about 4 mg


Yet another wonderful post. I think you did a very good job of clarifying everything so that I can really understand it. Since I started reading your blog in the fall of 2009, I have really changed my diet and I am feeling better and better. (I still eat a few nuts, avocados, small portions of organic chicken, occasional organic grassfed beef and lots of wild salmon, lots of greens, beans, some fruit, no sweets and no added oils). My blood tests, blood pressure etc. are excellent. I have passed on the link to friends of mine and now they are also changing their diets and experiencing benefits. You lay out the science so clearly and convincingly. We often comment about how great this blog and how grateful we are to you. Thank you.


LOVE this post. Thank you for sharing your insights, info, links and videos. Most of us have quite a bit of room for body, mind and soul improvement. Happy Healthy Long Life is a favorite place for me to go for inspiration and motivation. My profound thanks to you.

thank you for all the information you've shared!

Gael in Vermont

This WAS like writing a term paper! You are so dedicated and we all cannot thank you enough for helping us find the right path through the maze of nutritional information. Adding in some cold-water salmon will also help me with maintaining a better B12 balance since strict vegans need to supplement. Any thoughts on that? Were you taking a B12 previously?

Healthy Librarian


First got the nutrition & safety info on Coho from Dr. Robert Vogel's book, The Pritikin Edge. Since he's the man who did all the research on the negative effects of various food on the endothelial lining of blood vessels--and their effect on nitric oxide production--if he says wild salmon is OK--I'm all ears.

Then got more detailed nutrition info from Vital Choices website--purveyor's of healthy fish. They're in the business to sell fish--so keep that in mind. But, the nutritional info on various kinds of salmon is readily available on the USDA nutrition site, too.
Here's the Vital Choice link comparing the toxin/mercury levels of fish.

The smaller the fish, the lower the toxins. Vogel, says wild & canned salmon are exceeding low to non-existent.

Also, coincidentally, I just received a research article all about the high anti-oxidant properties of astaxanthin--ordered for one of our physicians. First I'd ever heard of it--and then a few days later I'm reading that it's in wild salmon. Monterey Bay Aquarium's (check on the web) Seafood Watch lists Wild Salmon as tops for environmentally friendly fishing & sustainability.

This is from Vital Choices:

About Silver (Coho) salmon
Wild Alaskan Silver Salmon is substantially leaner than Sockeye or King Salmon, yet is prized for its moist, delicate texture.

While leaner than Sockeye or King,
our Wild Alaskan Silver (Coho) salmon
offers abundant omega-3s and vitamin D.

Often overshadowed by better-known Sockeye and King, Silver salmon finds favor with many connoisseurs.

In addition to ample protein and fewer calories, Silver Salmon provides three beneficial natural food factors in abundance ... amounts are per 6 oz portion, and will vary annually and by harvest location:

* Omega-3s – About 2,223 mg, or four to seven times more than many fish oil capsules.
* Vitamin D3 – About 747 IU -- in the optimal D3 form -- which is much more than most other whole or fortified foods and nearly double the US RDA of 400 IU. (Most experts now advise adults to consume 1,000-2,000 IU every day.)
* Astaxanthin – About 4 mg. This red-orange pigment is a carotene-type antioxidant that, in test tube experiments, measures 100-500 times more powerful than vitamin E.

Thanks to everyone for your appreciation & kind words about this post--both on & off the blog.


Re B12--I take a sub-lingual for better absorption (bypasses digestive system) of 1000 micrograms--very inexpensive. I asked Dr. Esselstyn about this--and he received this recommendation from an expert in vitamin b research. It's methylcobalamin--tastes great, and I just keep the bottle in my purse so I won't forget.


Thank you so much for the fascinating information. Just when I think I have pretty good knowledge on good eating habits, you give me more information to learn and new habits to adopt. I am happy to be your student. Keep the healthy information flowing.

I always look forward to your posts!


Also, any chance you can get this one, and tell us what the "other" dietary factors hinted at by their results are?


> fish

Unfortunately, it's awful hard to find fish nowadays, if you want to buy from sustainable sources so you can still find the fish again later.

The Marine Stewardship Council appears to have sold out to the people stripmining the ocean, and has been busted by scientists:


Well, I'm discouraged -- and confused. I finally figured out how to do sample menus in Kim2, and it appears that as a vegan, I just can't get to the "very low risk" category in Bill Lands' Morgan Fair handout (around 9 - 25% Omega 6 in the precursors). Even if I ate NO grains along with no nuts or avocado, I can't get below about 35%. To get to his lowest risk category, you *have* to add fish.

But this is where I'm confused -- aren't we aiming for a 1:1 ratio as ideal? In which case, wouldn't anything under 50% Omega 6 in the precursors be very low risk? I've missed something somewhere ...

Thank you for this blog; I saw it referred to on the McDougall board and have been following it with fascination since.


Healthy Librarian

Hi Pam,

I'm not an expert at this at all, but I spent a fair amount of time trying to understand it. The long-chain 3s are of course the best--and the highest source is going to be in fish. But, they are also in algal sources, so that is certainly an option--and eventually, they will be more widely available, because they are the most sustainable source in the long-term. I take an algal form of DHA, but it's only about 125 mg. of n-3 per capsule. About 4 times a week take purified fish oil capsules that are 1200 mg of n-3 for the standard serving size of 3 capsules. Remember, the more you lower your intake of omega-6, the less n-3 you need. If you are eating lots of corn or garbanzos--just eat more foods higher in n-3 that day--like chia.

You didn't say if you are using flax meal or chia---they are tremendous sources of ALA, the short chain omega-3s. The body still has to convert these into the long-chain, and according to Lands, the more you lower your intake of the omega-6s, the higher the conversion rate of the ALAs. Chia is fantastic in water, and it's so easy to sprinkle on cereal or on anything else, & it has 2740 mg of n-3 in a TBS, at least in the Salba brand. I still use flax meal in cereal, but I like chia better--there's no bitter taste & it doesn't need refrigeration.

Vegetable oils are a huge source of omega-6s, except for canola oil. So keep that in mind. Beans (except soy), vegetables, & most fruits are pretty much perfectly balanced foods. And flax oil is a huge source of plant-based ALAs--you can't use it for cooking, though.

If you're doing all of this, and are really interested in increasing the omega-3s, I'd say email Dr. Lands-and ask the real expert. Also, in the final analysis, the only way you will really know how efficiently your body is converting the plant-based ALAs is by having a blood test. That info is in my post. Lands' mission is to convince health care systems to make these tests widely available--just like cholesterol tests--and he believes they are a much more accurate marker of health (physical & mental).

Hope this helps. Oops, last point, don't worry about getting to 1:1, if you got to 4:1 you'd make a huge difference.


Very nice blog. It seems your are doing everything Dr Essselstyn recommends except Fish. You are more in line with Dr Ornish.

I have no scientific proof but my gut feeling tells me that nature is very smart, it is quite the intelligent design if you look around and think about various things such as nature provided Zero calorie drink water, it provides low calorie foods without cholesterol/high amount of fat etc.

If six billion people on planet had to pop 3-4 fish oil pills per day, I don't think it is self sustaining. I can't not imagine the number of fish would have to be killed. Why would nature do that?

I'm all ears.

Healthy Librarian

Mark, you're right. Fish oil isn't sustainable for 6 billion people--and the same goes for 2-3 servings of fish a week. My omega-3 expert tells me that algal-produced omega-3s are sustainable, can be processed inexpensively, and are just as good as fish oil. Only a blood test (pretty costly) would tell us how well our plant-based omega-3s are converting to long-chain omega-3s, and if one's omega-6 to omega-3 ratios are in a good range--without fish, fish oil, or algal oil.



Can you please list some of the algal produced omega3s? Also does it contain just DHA OR EPA and DHA. Request you to consider writing a blog dedicated to ALL ABOUT omega3s in layman's terms. Thanks


For someone who wants to minimize cardiovascular risk, does Dr. Esselstyn still recommend to avoid eating any fish at all? Or has this research changed his views at all?

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