Essential Fatty Acids Are Good For You (Published in the Blackbelt Gazette)
Essential. What can we not live without. Yes, some fats we simply can’t live without. The essential fatty acids (EFA), linoleic and linolenic acid, are not made in the body. They must be attained by the foods we eat. They are the` basis for building all other fats in the body as well as cell membranes, hormones, and other chemical messengers. It IS important to replenish the body’s daily need of EFA’s.
Omega -3 fatty acids are in the form of ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), EPA (eicosapentaneoic acid), and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). Along with fish, especially oily fish, flax seeds/oil and nuts are good sources of Omega -3. They are even found in dark leafy greens, seeds, eggs, soybeans, and canola oil. Although these are good sources of Omega -3, ALA is mainly a source for energy and must be converted into EPA, to produce hormones, and DHA, required for brain development, vision, etc. Unfortunately, most studies have shown that only ten to thirty-five percent of ALA is converted to EPA and DHA. So, when choosing flax and walnuts to meet your daily need for Omega -3, remember not all ALA will be converted. The suggested daily amount is one tablespoon flax oil.
Omega -6 fatty acids are in the form of LA (linoleic acid), GLA (gamma-linolenic acid), and (AA) arachidonic acid. They are found in foods with polyunsaturated fats (best fat): corn oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, soybean oil, walnuts, peanuts, almonds, sunflower seeds. Herbs and supplements that are rich in Omega -6 and in the form of GLA are borage, black currant, and evening primrose
Popular sources of Omega -3 and -6 in the vegetarian community are chia and salba seeds. Chia seeds are high in Omega-3 in the form of ALA, but salba seeds contain both Omega -3 in the form ALA as well as Omega -6. These seeds are very versatile and can be added to smoothies, in salad dressing, even along with scrambled eggs.
Both Omega -3 and -6 are noted in the prevention of irregular heartbeats, lower blood pressure, reduce chronic inflammation, and even prevent atherosclerosis. Although fish is a good source of Omega 3, it is helpful consider the exposure of mercury, toxins, and loss of oils due to poor processing and storage.
Lastly, Omega -9 (oleic acid) is a monosaturated fat that also promotes heart health and cancer. It is found in olive oil, peanut oil, avocados, and nuts.
Those with diabetes, arthritis, and Crohn’s disease all benefit from diets rich in the Omega’s.
I have no idea why I left out hemp seeds as a good source of Omega, and they have -3, -6, & -9!