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Essential Fatty Acids Sources and Benefits

Posted Sep 11 2009 4:57pm

Why should I increase my Omega fatty acid intake?

Our intake of essential fatty acids has changed radically in the last century. Our ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 should be close to 1:1, but it is now over 10:1 and up to 20:1. This is due to the addition of corn, sunflower, safflower, sesame and other Omega-6 oils to our food supply. Such excesses are thought by many scientists to be a factor in a number of chronic medical conditions including arthritis, cardiovascular disease, asthma, acne, obesity and depression. It is clear that we need to increase our intake of Omega-3 fatty acids and decrease our intake of Omega-6 (linoleic acid) oils. By doing so we will be, look and feel healthier.

What are good fats and bad fats?

Fat is a concentrated source of energy. This source of energy is very useful during aerobic exercise. The longer the exercise, the higher the fat contribution for providing energy. Fat is particularly used in large quantities in the brain and nervous system. There are two types of fat: saturated and unsaturated. Unsaturated fats are commonly referred to as "good" fats, and should make up the greatest percentage of your fat intake.

UNSATURATED

Unsaturated fats, "good fats" are liquid at room temperature, and remain in liquid form even when refrigerated or frozen.
Good fats are part of the essential fats: omega 3 and omega 6, both of which are unsaturated fats.
What are EPA and DHA?

These are two specific essential fatty acids found in fish oil. Both Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) have been well documented in regulating cellular functions and promoting good health. Diets deficient in EPA and DHA have been associated with a number of health problems, most notably cardiovascular disease.

What is GLA and how is it different from other Omega-6 sources?

GLA (Gamma Linolenic Acid) is an Omega-6 fatty acid found in high amounts in borage oil, and to a lesser degree in black currant and evening primrose oils. In contrast to the sunflower, safflower and other Omega-6 oils, the presence of GLA in borage oil results in very different physiological effects. Linoleic acid in its current dietary excess promotes inflammation due to the production of arachidonic acid (AA). GLA on the other hand, actually interferes with the production of AA and decreases inflammation. GLA has been used with success in treating various medical conditions, most notably rheumatoid arthritis and eczema. Emerging science also indicates that GLA has synergistic activities with the Omega-3 marine-derived DHA and EPA, particularly in cardiovascular health and fat metabolism.

We all want to be healthy, happy and fit with enough energy for work and for play. A well-balanced diet, exercise, and enough rest go a long way in helping us get the most out of life. And essential fatty acids (EFAs) have been proven to help us achieve healthier and happier lives. These good fats' truly are essential and the majority of us are not consuming enough of the well-researched Omega fats. Now getting the right amount of Omegas to suit your specific health needs is easier than ever.

Where do essential fats come from?

Sources of Omega 3 and Omega 6 essential fats:

Cold Water fish such as Salmon (coho, king and pink), sardines, cod, albacore tuna, trout, halibut , herring. (these fish are also a great source of Omega 6, but are predominantly richer in Omega 3).
Flaxseeds and green leafy vegetables are great sources of Omega 3.
Sesame and sunflower seeds and other seeds and nuts are great sources of Omega 6.
Borage oil and evening primrose oil are rich sources of GLA which is part of the Omega 6 essential fats.
Where do saturated fats come from?

Saturated fats contain large amounts of saturated fatty acids. Saturated fatty acids are named so, because they are "saturated" with hydrogen, meaning they have only single bonds between carbon atoms, leaving no room in their chemical structure for additional hydrogen atoms. Saturated fats are typically solid at room temperature.

Varieties of Saturated fat include: Butter, coconut and palm oils and lard.

Benefits

Aid in balancing the autoimmune system.
Treats skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.
Cardiovascular health.


Source: http://www.healthguidance.org/authors/339/Chester-Ku%252dLea

Chester Ku-Lea


Chester Ku-Lea is a health nutrition consultant and is the owner of http://www.astronutrition.com.

View all articles by Chester Ku-Lea

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