What are fatty acids?
Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are fats that the body cannot produce. They´re important nutrients necessary for health; and are present in every healthy cell in the human body. They´re responsible for normal function and growth of the cells, nerves, muscles, and organs. (EFAs) are used by the body to produce a class of hormone-like substances called prostaglandins, which are crucial to many important processes. (EFAs) deficiency is linked to a great variety of health problems, including heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
Saturated fat is found most frequently in animal products, including dairy products, and meat. They´re also found in avocados and nuts. Cholesterol is a dietary fat found only in animal products. It is also made from saturated fats by the body in small amounts. Its consumption has been related to cancer and heart disease. (EFAs) are unsaturated fats, and are considered the healthiest dietary fats; unsaturated fats are typically present in the oils of vegetables and nuts, as well as fish.
Depending on their chemical composition (EFAs) are classified into two types: omega-3 fatty acids and omega-6 fatty acids. fatty acids are typically alpha-linolenic acid, stearidonic acid, eicosapentanoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA]). Alpha-linolenic acid is found principally in flaxseed oil, canola oil, walnuts, soybeans, hemp seeds, and dark green leafy vegetables. Stearidonic acid is found in nuts and black currant seeds. EPA and DHA are contained in cold-water fish like salmon, sardines, trout, mackerel, and cod.
Omega-6 fatty acids, which are the most common types in the American diet, include, linoleic acid found in safflower, olive, sunflower, almond, walnut, soybean, sesame, pumpkin, and flaxseed oils. Arachidonic acid present in meat and other animal products. Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) found in some seeds and evening primrose oil.
Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are necessary in a healthy diet, and their deficiencies include dry skin, dry hair, fatigue, cracked fingernails, weakness, frequent infections, allergies, hyperactivity, mood disorders, depression, aching joints, poor digestion, learning problems, obesity, high blood pressure, and high levels of cholesterol.
Americans typically consume higher quantities of omega-6 EFAs, than omega-3 EFAs. Research studies have proved that an increased amount of omega-6 EFAs in the diet can lead to an imbalanced production of prostaglandins, which in turn can lead to serious health problems. It is recommended that omega-3 and omega-6 be consumed in a balanced ratio.
The most common EFA supplements are flaxseed oil, borage oil, black currant seed oil, evening primrose oil, hemp seed oil, and cod liver oil. Flaxseed oil contains a higher percentage of fatty acids, and it´s the least expensive source of omega-3 EFAs, cheaper than fish oil supplements. Evening primrose has proved some benefits in the treatment of premenstrual syndrome, however it doesn´t contain omega-3 EFAs. Hemp seed oil includes a balanced source of both EFAs.
Supplements are available in capsule or liquid form. The daily recommended dosage is one to two tsp. (12-25 capsules) accompanied with meals. EFAs can also be acquired from diets which include cold-water fish, whole grains, dark leafy vegetables, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, wheat germ, canola oil, and soy products.
Due to the accumulation of toxins like mercury in large fish, such as shark, tuna, and swordfish, it is recommended that pregnant women and young children eat very little amounts of them.
There is evidence from multiple large scales population studies that the intake of recommended amounts of EPA and DHA in the form of dietary fish or fish oil supplements lowers tryglicerides, reduces the risk of heart attack; the buildup of plaque in the artery walls; lowers blood pressure, and facilitates brain development in children. However, it is important to consult your physician before you start taking them.