I've stumbled upon alot of research recently regarding Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs), including how long chain omega-3 fatty acids modulate hunger signals.
More on that later. In the meantime, as a primer, an essential nutrient is
- Required by the body for proper function and,
- One that cannot be made in sufficient quantities by the body and thus must be obtained through ones diet
The Essential Fatty Acids include
Alpha-linoleic acid (ALA) as well as the fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) belongs to a group of fatty acids called omega-3 acids. EPA and DHA are found primarily in fish while ALA is highly concentrated in certain plant oils such as flaxseed oil and, to a lesser extent, canola, soy and walnut oils.
Most omega-6 fatty acids are consumed in the diet from vegetable oils as linolenic acid (LA).
While the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 should be close to 1:1, the typical North American diet has ratios now over 10:1 due to the addition of corn, sunflower, safflower, and sesame oils to our food supply.
Consequently, this shift is thought by many to be a factor in a number of chronic medical conditions including arthritis, cardiovascular disease, asthma, acne, depression and even obesity.
According to a recent study published in the November 2008 issue of Appetite, 232 overweight and obese volunteers were provided with a calorie restricted, balanced diet. Participants were randomly assigned to take a low dose of omega-3 (260 mg/day) or a high dose of omega-3 (1300 mg/day) supplement for a period of 2-weeks.
Those who received the high dose of omega-3 maintained a better level of satiety immediately following meals as well as two hours post-meal. Blood tests showed not only a higher concentration of omega-3 in these individuals, but an improved omega-3 to omega-6 ratio as well.
If you're one of those individuals who is hungry 20 minutes following a meal, consider adding more omega-3 rich foods to your diet!