Essential Fats and Omegas: All About Omegas
Fatty acids are the basic building blocks and the main nutritional component of fats. The body requires about twenty fatty acids in order to live and operate. It can make all but two of these: linolenic and linoleic. These two are called “essential fatty acids” (EFAs) because they are essential fats for life and health. However, the human body cannot make these substances; they can be supplied only by food or supplements. Essential fats occur mostly in seafood and plant foods, with only trace amounts found in meat.
Fat Tip #1:
It's essential to eat EFAs
All about omegas
The two most important essential fatty acids are linolenic acid (also known as an omega 3 fatty acid) and linoleic acid (also known as an omega 6 fatty acid). The omega number describes where the important carbon atom is located on the fat molecule. If this atom is third from the end, the fatty acid is known as an omega 3 fatty acid (omega is the last letter of the Greek alphabet and means "end"). If it's sixth from the end, it's known as an omega 6 fatty acid (vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds). Omega 3 fatty acids especially have a valuable role in reducing the risk of heart disease and building healthy brain cells. The standard American diet (SAD) is sadly deficient in omega 3s, found mainly in plant foods (especially canola oil and flax oil, soybeans, and walnuts) and seafood.
ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS - ESSENTIAL FATS FOR WELL-BEING.
American families need more than a low-fat diet. They need a "right fat diet" that includes essential fatty acids. Essential fatty acids benefit the body in the following ways:
- Lowers the risk of breast and colon cancer
- Improve learning and attention span in school-children
- Improve cognitive function in the elderly
- Elevate mood, resulting in less depression
- Lower the risk of cardiovascular disease
- Promote healthy skin
- Improve vision, especially night vision
Fat Tip #2:
Eat more omega 3s
The S.A.D diet and essential fats
You may be surprised to learn that most American children and many American adults don't eat enough fat - healthy fats, that is. The SAD (Standard American Diet) has a double fault: too much of the wrong fats and too little of the right fats. Most Americans eat an excess of unhealthy fats (animal and hydrogenated fats) and not enough healthy fats (plant and fish fats). Vegetable and fish fats are mostly MUFAs, PUFAs, and EFAs. Animal fats also have a double fault: They are low in EFAs and high in SATFAs. Do your health a favor, eat less animal fat and more veggie and fish fat.
For more information about omega-3s, check out The Omega-3 Effect by Dr. Bill and Dr. Jim.