The Benefits of Omega Fatty Acids

 If I were to tell you that consuming healthy fats like omega fatty acids will not only keep your body and brain functioning properly, they will also help fight disease, lower cholesterol and help you lose weight; would you believe me? That is exactly what healthy fats do, promote wellness.

Healthy Fat

Why does the body need healthy fats in a daily diet?  Imagine what would happen if you took all the oil out of your car and tried to drive it?  You wouldn’t get very far before the engine seized up; leaving you stranded on the side of the road with smoke billowing from your hood.  This is the same line of thinking for why the body needs healthy fats, they lubricate everything necessary for proper function.

People hear the word ‘fat’ and shy away; unaware of all the powerful and essential benefits they offer the body.  60% of your brain is fat, so not getting enough healthy fat up there in the ole noggin can lead to hardening of the soft tissues causing plaques to form. This can lead to such diseases as Alzheimer and Dementia.

Healthy fats are an important source of energy, providing twice as much energy as proteins or carbohydrates. They produce vital hormones, hold cells together, protect organs, promote eye health and generally have an anti-inflammatory effect. Fats are also vital in helping the body absorb vitamins A, D, E and K.

Types of Fats

There are 4 types of fat in food:

  • Polyunsaturated
  • Monounsaturated
  • Saturated
  • Trans fat

Trans fats are the absolute bad fats found in processed and fried foods that affect your health by raising cholesterol and blood pressure leading to heart disease, diabetes and obesity. Saturated fat is deep in controversy right now between good (in moderation) or bad and leads to disease. The U.S. National Library of Medicine performed a study on sat fat and cardiovascular disease and the conclusion was “insufficient evidence’ proving saturated fat lead to disease.  Coconut oil is a great example of a healthy saturated fat.

Poly and monounsaturated fats are the good fats that prevent disease and promote a healthier body.

Omega 3 Fatty Acid

Omega 3 fatty acids are probably the most well known of all the healthy polyunsaturated fats and for good reason, they are essential for brain function and central nervous system health.   According to the U.S. Library of Medicine, omega 3 fatty acids are “essential nutrients that enhance quality of life and lower the risk of premature death.”

Omega 3’s are made of two components, EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). The body cannot produce omega, so it needs the food we eat or supplements to provide a daily supply. Omega3 fatty acids help curb hunger by making you feel satiated for longer and they are crucial for cognitive thinking and behavior in the brain.

Omega 3’s are particularly concentrated in the brain and are key to the production of message sending neurons that talk to the rest of the body. They are also anti-inflammatory, lubricate joints, support immune system and work congruent with the brain to release melatonin for a better night’s sleep.

Omega 3’s help to promote healthy bones by balancing calcium, creating stronger overall bone density. Washington University conducted a study on the effects of EPA & DHA on muscle mass and found that it helped to stimulate muscle growth by synthesizing protein quicker and more efficiently.

Omega 6 Fatty Acids

Omega 6 fatty acids are made up of mainly linoleic acid and benefit the body by encouraging skin & hair growth and stabilizing the metabolism.

The problem with Omega 6’s is that they come from commonly used plant oils like corn and soybean, which leads to overconsumption of omega 6. Absorbing too much of this fatty acid can have adverse effects on the body; instead of contributing to wellness, it causes the inflammation that increases the risk of heart disease.

According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, “It is important to have the proper ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 in the diet. The typical American diet tends to contain 14 – 25 times more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3 fatty acids, which many nutritionally oriented physicians consider to be way too high on the omega-6 side.”

Foods Rich In Omega’s

Omega 3

  • Walnuts
  • Avocados
  • Wild salmon
  • Quinoa
  • Flax

Omega 6

  • Corn oil
  • Soybean oil
  • Safflower
  • Grapeseed
  • Vegetable

Symptoms of Omega 3 deficiency can cause severe mood swings, foggy brain activity, lethargy, insufficient blood circulation and memory loss.

Daily Supple Necessary

In order to receive the amazing benefits of omega 3, there needs to be a daily consistency of intake. So whether in food, which is always the better choice, or if choosing supplements, the EPA/DHA ratio in omega 3’s should be 700-1000 EPA to 200-500 DHA daily. Since omega 6 is in most foods, the goal is to not retain too much. You want to aim at a 1 to 4 ratio; one omega 6 to every four omega 3’s and shoot for a daily supply of 500-600mg of DHA a day.

Eating fish oil supplements with meals that contain fat is MUCH better for absorption. More of the Omega-3 gets into your ‘system’ and more stays there over time when you eat your fish oil pills with food. Some foods helps absorption better than others. The fat present in your food is what helps Omega-3 get absorbed into your body.  Many of you probably are on low-fat diets, so keep this in mind. Taking your fish oil pills with just fruits or skim milk is wasting a lot of Omega-3.

Choosing a fish-oil supplement made from small, oily fish like anchovies or sardines will lessen the possibility of contaminants, but, salmon, krill and algae oils are also available.  Check the label to see EPA/DHA ratio and you may need to keep refrigerated to keep supplements fresh.

Healthy fats are essential to human growth and function; the myth that all fat is bad needs to be dispelled from your brain forever. The omega’s help prevent heart disease, lower bad LDL cholesterol, keep your brain firing on all cylinders, build muscle and help you lose weight; I don’t see a reason why you wouldn’t want to make sure you are getting at least your daily supply necessary.

Tags: fish oil, healthy fats, healthy living. gluten free diet, omega 3, omega 6

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