Acids - By
now most of us have been conditioned to associate the work
"fat" with something negative, harmful to our health and
to be avoided at all costs. However, not all fats are alike.
true that the common "saturated" fat in red meat, dairy
and many processed foods can contribute to obesity, clogged arteries
and a slew of health problems. However, there are certain fats that
are not only good, they are essential for our health, called
Essential Fatty Acids (EFA).
Types of Fat
are three types of fat: saturated,
monounsaturated and polyunsaturated. Each is a mixture of different
fatty acids, and each plays an important role in the body after it
The specific amount of each fatty acid and its
respective molecular structure determine whether the fat is a solid
or a liquid.
fats like butter, animal fat and hydrogenated oils are solid at room
fats such as olive oil remain liquid at room temperature, but not
when refrigerated. Because our bodies can manufacture both saturated
and monounsaturated fats, they are called nonessential.
fats are a different story. They are also liquid, both at room
temperature and when refrigerated. The human body cannot manufacture
polyunsaturated fats, therefore they must be supplied by diet, hence
the name - Essential Fatty Acids.
is important to know that EFA's contribute to good health and are
not to be confused with harmful saturated fats.
The Role of
EFAs in Your Health
are found in certain plants, seeds, oils and
cold-water fish oils. Studies have shown that consuming a diet rich
in fish helps lower triglycerides and low-density lipoproteins (LDL,
bad cholesterol) while raising high-density lipoproteins (HDL, good
cholesterol). Therefore, EFA's protect against heart disease.
also help regulate cellular oxygen use, energy production, and
formation of hemoglobin, blood pressure, and immune function.
Furthermore, EFAs can be beneficial for people who suffer from
auto-immune diseases, skin problems and a number of other
dangerous health conditions including cancer.
two types of polyunsaturated fatty acids are
considered essential: Omega-6 or linoleic acid (LA) and Omega-3 or
alpha-linolenic acid (LNA).
They can be converted into other
important fatty acids. For example, gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) and
arachidonic acid (AA) are both made from linoleic acid, while
eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are
derived from alpha-linolenic acid.
many people have decreased activity of enzymes necessary for
production of GLA, EPA, and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are derived
from alpha-linolenic acid.
are components of cell membranes, especially in the brain and
central nervous system. Their main function is to serve as
precursors to hormone-like substances called prostaglandin and
related compounds (thromboxanes and prostacyclins) that help
regulate the function of the central nervous system, blood pressure
and cardiovascular health.
and Omega-6 fatty acids generally promote the production of
prostaglandin that are anti-inflammatory in nature. They keep
platelets from sticking together, open up blood vessels and slow
down cholesterol production. They may also help prevent cancer cell
growth by regulating the rate of cell division.
health conditions (over 60) have been shown to benefit from
EFAs including heart disease, cancer, multiple sclerosis,
auto-immune diseases, skin problems, arthritis, PMS, fibrocystic
breast disease, allergies, depression, prostate enlargement,
irritable bowel syndrome among many others.
Supplementation in Diets
experts estimate that about 80% of people don't
consume enough EFAs, which puts them at risk for various diseases.
Even people who eat fish regularly are often deficient. The only
solution is supplementation.
a supplement should provide both the Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids
and include GLA, EPA and DHA. This is accomplished by combining fish
oil and borage oil.
people over 30 should take EFAs daily as added protection against a
whole host of dangerous diseases.