The Benefits of Essential Fatty Acids

by Tracy Rohland

Proper nutrition and weight loss are both hot topics in society today. It is important to be aware that weight loss does not necessarily translate into proper nutrition. Many individuals believe that in order to lose weight, one must eliminate fat from the diet. Unfortunately, this can be very harmful to the body as certain types of fats are critical to proper function of the body. These beneficial fats are known as Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs). They are essential because your body cannot produce them on its own so they must come from your diet. The two primary EFAs are known as linoleic acid (omega-6) and alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3).

These EFAs are necessary for the following processes:

  • Formation of healthy cell membranes
  • Proper development and functioning of the brain and nervous system
  • Proper thyroid and adrenal activity
  • Hormone production
  • Regulation of blood pressure, liver function, immune and inflammatory responses
  • Regulation of blood clotting: Omega-6 FAs encourage blood clot formation, whereas Omega-3 oil reduces clotting. The ideal is to achieve a balance between omega-6 and omega-3 FAs
  • Crucial for the transport and breakdown of cholesterol
  • Support healthy skin and hair

Sources of Omega 3’s include flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, soybean and its products such as tofu and tempeh. Walnuts, and dark green veggies, such as kale, collards, chard, parsley, and cereal grasses (wheat & barley grasses), are also good sources. This is because all green (chlorophyll-rich) foods contain Omega-3 FA in their chloroplasts.

Sources of Omega-6 fatty acids include nuts, seeds, grains, legumes, and dairy.

Experts advise that one should consume a minimum of between 3% and 5% of calories from Omega-6 and about .5% to 1% from Omega-3 FAs. In a 2000 calorie diet, that is about 12 grams of Omega-6 and 3 grams of Omega-3.

A vegetarian diet is naturally low in fat, so be sure to include EFA-rich foods in your healthy lifestyle.

Footnotes: 

Down to Earth carries a variety of high quality essential fatty acids both in liquid form and in capsules. We also carry a huge selection of whole food products rich in Essential Fatty Acids.

© 2014 Down to Earth Organic & Natural

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