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Recent research has proved the benefits of essential fatty acids in our diet. It’s important for anyone with a regular fitness program, as they promote normal blood pressure, heart, and brain function. Plus, not all essential fatty acids can made by the body. These include Omega 3 and 6, which must be consumed through the diet. Nutrition Dome offers a variety of essential fatty acids products, rich in EPA and DHA, including Krill Oil, Omega 3, and CLA. More…

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Essential Fatty Acid Basics

Deficiencies in fatty acids leads to a range of symptoms and disorders including abnormalities in the liver and the kidneys, reduced growth rates, decreased immune function, depression, and dryness of the skin.

Adequate consumption of the essential fatty acids offers many documented health benefits, including prevention of atherosclerosis, reduced incidence of heart disease and stroke, and relief from the symptoms associated with ulcerative colitis, menstrual pain, and joint pain.

As important as it is to incorporate omega-3 and omega-6s in your diet, they must be consumed in the appropriate ratio. This is because Omega-6s with omega-3s for use in the body. As a result, too much omega-6 can inhibit the benefit of omega-3s. Most Americans consume these fatty acids at a ratio of 10:1 (or higher) instead of an ideal 1:1 (omega-6:omega-3) ratio. This serious imbalance is due to processed foods and oils, which are now common in the Western diet.

Omega-6 Fatty Acids

Omega-6 fats are derived from linoleic acid, which is commonly found in leafy vegetables, seeds, nuts, grains, and vegetable. Most healthy diets offer the proper amount of this fatty acid. As a result, supplementation is rarely required.

A less common omega-6 fatty acid, gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), has proven to offer anti-inflammatory benefits, including other disease-fighting powers. GLA is available in oils such as black currant, borage, and hemp.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

To maintain good health, it is vital to eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids daily. Unlike omega-6 fatty acids, it takes more planning to ensure adequate intake of omega-3s. These fatty acids are needed for the proper formation of cell walls. They also assist in improving circulation and oxygen uptake. The recommended intake is 1.1 and 1.6 grams per day for women and men age 14 and over, respectively.

The principal omega-3 is alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which the body converts into eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenonic acid (DHA). This makes ALA the essential omega-3 fatty acid. It's found in many vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, and fruits. Some of the best sources include flaxseeds and walnuts, along with different oils such as flaxseed, canola, soybean, walnut, and wheat germ.

Omega-3s from Fish

While fish are frequently talked about as a good source of essential fatty acids, the high amounts of other fats and cholesterol, and the lack of fiber, could make a high reliance on fish for Omega-3s a poor choice. Onother issue concerning many health experts are mercury and other environmental toxins in fish.

Fish oils have become a popular omega-3 dietary supplementation. However, the omega-3s found in fish oils (EPA and DHA) are unstable molecules that can decompose and unleash free radicals. As a result, these supplements may not be the best option for most diets. Plus, some research suggests that supplementing with fish oil may not offer adequate for good cardiovascular health.

Best Sources of Omega-3

Receiving omega-3s from plant sources is the most beneficial. Research shows that omega-3s are found in the most stable form (ALA) in fruits, vegetables and beans. For healthy people, natural conversion of ALA to DHA and EPA is sufficient to maintain proper tissue function. Studies show that women on vegan diets actually have more long-chain omega-3s in their blood compared with fish-eaters and meat-eaters.

Flaxseed oil and ground flaxseeds are top choices to meet your needs for omega-3s. Just 1-teaspoon of flaxseed oil or 1-tablespoon of ground flaxseed offers the daily recommended requirement of ALA.

Flaxseeds needs to be ground for the body to absorb the nutrients. Also, both flaxseed oil and ground flaxseeds must be refrigerated to prevent oxygen damage. It's also important to keep in mind that heat destroys the omega-3s in flaxseed oil. A good way to consume it is to simply add a spoonful of ground flaxseeds to a smoothie, breakfast cereal or a salad.

Plant Foods Rich in Omega-3s

  • Ground flaxseed (flax meal)
  • Walnuts
  • Soybeans
  • Mungo beans (sold in many Indian grocery store and may be called "urid")

Omega-3 Content of Natural Oils

  • Flaxseed 53-62%
  • Canola 11%
  • Walnut 10%
  • Wheat germ 7%
  • Soybean 7%