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Essential Fatty Acids

Posted Mar 01 2010 6:40am
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

  1. alpha-linoleic acid
  2. linolenic acid

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!

Foods with high levels of omega-3 include:

  • Salmon
  • Scallops
  • Sardines
  • Shrimp
  • Cod
  • Flaxseeds
  • Walnuts
  • Cauliflower
  • Cabbage
  • Romaine Lettuce
  • Broccoli

Back in July 2008, our Nutrition Tip Of The Week highlighted fish oil supplementation .

Coming later this week is a posting on why I changed my fish oil supplementation brand, and why you may want to reconsider your supplementation as well!

Train hard; stay strong.



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