Essential Fatty Acids & Oils

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Essential Fatty Acids & Oils:


Essential fatty acids, or EFAs, are fatty acids that cannot be synthesized by humans but must be ingested because the body requires them for good health.
Linoleic acid (LA), an omega-6 fatty acid, and α-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fatty acid, are the two types of essential fatty acids.

Some facts about Essential Fatty Acids & Oils:

  • Essential Fatty Acids are referred to as 'essential fats, as it can not be produced by human body and you have to get them from your diet.
  • Based on the chemical shape and size, omega-3 fatty acid can be Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) or Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).
  • Chemicals called eicosanoids is produced by EPA, which help reduce inflammation. It can also help reduce symptoms of depression.
  • DHA contributes to brain development and function and makes up about 8 percent of brain weight.
  • Although, EPA and DHA can be synthesized from ALA, it is recommended to consume foods rich in EPA and DHA due to low conversion efficiency.
  • DHA helps in visual and neurological development. It may reduce the risks of early premature birth and very low birth weight when supplemented during pregnancy.
  • Increasing the intake of EPA and DHA may benefit individuals with type 2 diabetes mellitus, especially in those with elevated serum triglycerides.
  • Omega-3 fatty acid have important benefits for your heart, brain, and metabolism.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids can help improve heart health by managing cholesterol, triglyceride, and blood pressure levels.
  • Depression, Parkinson's disease and psychosis can be managed or prevented by Omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Weight and waist circumference can be managed by reducing weight and waist size.
  • The amount of fat in your live can be decreased and inflammation because of some chronic diseases can be managed by Omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids also support brain development in a fetus.
  • Omega-6 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids that mainly provide energy.
  • Linoleic acid is the most common omega-6 fat that can be converted to longer omega-6 fats such as arachidonic acid (AA) by the body.
  • The pro-inflammatory eicosanoids produced by AA plays a key role in the immune system. However, they can increase the risk of inflammation and inflammatory disease when produced in excessive amount.
  • Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) is an omega-6 fatty acid found in certain oils, such as evening primrose oil and borage oil that is converted to another fatty acid called dihomo-gamma-linolenic acid (DGLA) when consumed.
  • GLA can help reduce symptoms of inflammatory conditions.
  • Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) is another form of omega-6 fatty acid that may help reduce fat mass in humans
  • Omega-9 fatty acids are monounsaturated which are are nonessential fats as the body can produce them.
  • Both omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids are important structural components of cell membranes that provide a source of energy.
  • Long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids such as PUFA has an anti-inflammatory effects.

Foods containing Essential Fatty Acids & Oils:

 

  • Oily Fish, fish oils and some vegetable oils are rich sources of essential fatty acids including omega-3s EPA and DHA.
  • Alpha linolenic acid is found in large quantity in flax seed and in small quantities in hemp, walnut, soybean and canola oil.
  • The chloroplast of green leafy vegetables is abundant in Alpha linolenic acid(ALA).
  • Fish and fish oil are the richest sources of EPA with contents ranging from 39 to 50 percent for fresh as well as salt water fish.
  • DHA is present in fish oil and red brown algae. It is a omga-3 fatty acid also found in retina. Brain is made up of about 65 percent fat out of which DHA is 50 percent.
  • ALA becomes toxic if not protected as it is very sensitive to destruction by light, oxygen and heat
  • Linoleic acid is found abundantly in safflower, sunflower and corn. It is present in medium quantities in soybean, sesame and almonds and in small quantities in canola, peanut and olive oils. Coconut and palm kernel contains a low quantity of it.
  • LA is converted into other fatty acids by human body depending upon need.
  • Gamma-linolenic acid is present in evening primrose oil, black current and borage. Organ meats and human milk contains a small amount of it.
  • Dihomo-gamma-linolenic acid can be synthesized from GLA.
  • Arachidonic acid is found in meat, eggs and dairy products.
  • Chronic inflammation, hypertension and blood clotting tendency can be a cuse of diets too high in LA and too low in omega-3 fatty acids that increases the risk of heart attack and stroke.
  • The metabolism of ALA to EPA and DHA can be decreased by increased amount of LA.
  • Omega-6 fats are present in refined vegetable oils and foods cooked in vegetable oils in high levels.
  • A significant amounts of omega-6 fatty acids are present in nuts and seeds.
  • Each of these fatty acids are provided in suitable proportions when a combined omega-3-6-9 supplement is taken.
  • Your intake of omega-3 fats can be increased by taking such oil and your balance of fatty acids can be enhanced so that the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 is less than 4-to-1.
  • Omega-3-6-9 supplement is not required by most of the people as they can get enough omega-6 from their diet and the body produces omega-9.
  • A good balance of omega-3, omega-6, and omega-9 fatty acids can be provided by eating at least two portions of oily fish per week and using olive oil for cooking and in salad dressings.
  • You can also limit the intake of omega-6 by limiting your consumption of other vegetable oils and fried foods that have been cooked in refined vegetable oils.
  • Polyunsaturated fatty acids are easily oxidized when exposed to heat and light. so, the oil has been extracted with limited heat or cold pressed should be chosen while buying an omega-3-6-9 supplement, as the oxidization that can damage the fatty acid molecules.
  • The supplement that contains an antioxidant such as vitamin E should be taken to ensure that isn't oxidized.
  • A supplement with the highest omega-3 content is an ideal one.
  • An omega-3 supplement instead of a combined omega-3-6-9 supplement is always beneficial.

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