Essential fatty acids (EFA’s) are the fatty acids that humans must obtain from their diets. Our bodies require these for good health as the body does not manufacture them.
Essential fatty acids are imperative for good health as they assist with many specific and important functions, such as:
- mood modulation and brain function (improvement of memory, learning and behaviour patterns)
- maintenance of healthy skin
- essential component for sex hormone production
- reduce inflammation in the body (inflammation is the biggest trigger for Endocrine imbalances)
- promote contraction and relaxation of artery walls, anti-thrombotic (reduces blood clots) and anti-atherosclerotic (prevents fatty deposits in the arteries)
- normalises and regulates cholesterol levels and provides anti-oxidant protection
- reduces cancer cell growth of the breast, colon and prostate
As the name implies these fats are essential for health and we must obtain them from foods, rich sources are:
- fish and fish oil
- chia seeds
- hemp seeds
- vegetable oils
- flaxseeds and flaxseed oil
- leafy vegetables
Average diet – Omega 3: Omega 6
The current ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 intakes through the average diet is 10:1. The recommended ratio for improving general health is 2:1. Because most people fail to consume sufficient amounts of these beneficial fats, a deficiency of Omega-s EFAs is the biggest contributing factor to illness, disease and death. Omega-6 fatty acids are primarily sourced from corn, soya, canola, sunflower and safflower oils. These are typically over-abundant in the typical which accounts for excess Omega-6 levels. Omega-6 fats predominate the Western diet and this encourages the production of inflammation in your body. Many scientists believe that one reason there is a high incidence of heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, premature ageing, and some cancer forms today is this profound omega-3-omega-6 imbalance.
Importance of Omega 3 EFA
Omega-3 fats are a key family of polyunsaturated fats, there are three main omega-3s:
If you choose to increase your Omega-3 EFA by supplementation, ensure that it is ultra-clean, pure and concentrated form. A pharmaceutical-grade fish oil that is highly stable and contains antioxidants such as Vitamin E to reduce oxidation of the oil is also recommended.
- Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) which come mainly from fish (they are also commonly called marine omega-3s)
- Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) most commonly found in vegetable oils and nuts, flaxseeds and flaxseed oil, leafy vegetables, and some animal fats. The human body uses this for energy production.
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