Benefits of Essential Fatty Acids

Some fatty acids-called essential fatty acids (EFAs)-are necessary to our diet, because our bodies can’t produce them. To stay healthy, we must obtain these fatty acids from our food.

There are two types of EFAs:

  • Omega 3:
    1. Docosahcxaenoic acid (DHA)
    2. Elcoapentacnoic acid (EPA)
    3. Alpha- linolenic acid (ALA)
  • Omega 6:
    1. Linoleic acid (LA)
    2. Gamma linoleic acid (GLA)
    3. Dihomogamma linoleic acid (DGLA)
    4. Arachidonic acid (AA)

Omega 3 refers to a family of polyunsaturated fatty acids and is sometimes written as n-3 or w-3. This family includes acids ALA, EPA, and DHA. ALA is a precursor of EPA and DHA. Omega-3 fatty acids are an essential part of our diets and can be found in foods like oil-rich fish, fish oil, nuts, plus fortified foods like eggs, bread and fruit juices.

These EFAs are necessary for the following processes:

  • Formation of healthy cell membranes.
  • Proper development and functioning of the brain and nervous system.
  • Proper thyroid & adrenal activity.
  • Hormone production.
  • Regulation of blood pressure, liver function, immune and inflammatory responses.
  • Supports healthy skin and hair.
  • Crucial for the transport and breakdown of cholesterol.
  • Regulation of blood clotting:
    • Omega 6 FAs encourage blood clot formation, where as
    • Omega 3 oil reduces clotting – the ideal is to achieve a balance between Omega 6 and Omega 3 FAs

Sources of Omega-3s

  • Flax seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Soybean
  • Walnuts
  • Dark green veggies (such as Kale, Collards, Chard, Parsley and cereal grasses).

Sources of Omega-6s

  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Grains
  • Legumes
  • Dairy

It is also now thought that Omega-3s play an important role in eye health. DHA is naturally concentrated in the retina of the eye (the layer of tissue that lines the inside of the eye and receives the image formed by the lens) and is thought to promote healthy retinal function. In fact, results of several studies, including one published in the February 2001 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (AJCN) indicate that eating larger amounts of fish or Omega-3s may help promote macular health. Studies have also shown that Omega-3s can help reduce dry eye
syndrome, a chronic eye condition caused by a decrease in tear production or increase in tear evaporation.




















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