Essential Fatty Acids

Let’s talk Fats!
I know, I know, the word that nobody wants to discuss and more importantly, we don’t understand fats.  I mean, fat makes you fat, right?  Wrong.
Essential fatty acids, or EFAs, are fatty acids that humans and other animals must ingest because the body requires them for good health but cannot synthesize them. The term “essential fatty acid” refers to fatty acids required for biological processes but does not include the fats that only act as fuel.
These Essential Fatty Acids, (EFA’s) are:
•    Alpha-linolenic acid (Omega 3), which include fish oil, flaxseed oil, wheat germ, walnut, hemp, and pumpkin.
•    Linoleic Acid (Omega 6), sunflower oil, sesame oil, safflower oil, peanut oil, black currant seed, and evening primrose.
A few facts to ponder
•    Fats compose about 15% of our body weight 
•    Animal and vegetable sources of fat provide a concentrated source of energy in our diet
•    As previously mentioned, a fairly high percentage of diverse, good quality fats are required for optimum health.  This does not include trans fats like canola oil, vegetable oil, grapeseed oil, margarine, and any other man-made, over processed fats.  
Here is a brief synopsis of the properties of each of the good fats.

Polyunsaturated fats:
•    Relatively unstable – never to be used in cooking or heating
•    Go rancid easily
•    Always liquid
•    2 are essential 
•    Found in flax, nuts, seeds, and fish oil
Monounsaturated fats:
•    Relatively stable – good for low heat cooking
•    Do not go rancid easily
•    Liquid at room temperature
•    Non-essential (the body can make these)
•    Found in olive oil, almond oil, pecans, cashews, avocados
Saturated fats:
•    Highly stable – good for high heat cooking
•    Do not go rancid easily
•    Solid/semi-solid at room temperature
•    Non-essential (the body can make these)
•    Found in animal fats and tropical oils (coconut and palm)
It’s important to note that all fats are some combination of the 3 types listed above. There are no fats that are 100% saturated, polyunsaturated or monounsaturated.
Benefits and roles of fat in the body
•    Provide a lasting source of energy
•    Act as building blocks for cell membranes and hormones
•    Aid in the absorption of the fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K)
•    Allow for the proper use of proteins in the body
•    Serve as a protective lining for the organs of the body
•    Help regulate energy absorption by slowing the absorption of food
•    Increase satiety 
•    Keep you fuller for longer
•    Make food taste good
There are two big ideas for Fatty Acid, or EFA’s
1.    Healthy Fatty Acid deficiency is an epidemic, and it can lead to a host of health issues.  Common signs of deficiency include weight issues, hair loss, dry skin, allergies, low immune systems, cardiovascular issues, inflammation, and depression. 
2.    Inflammation can be effectively managed with nutritional therapy, therefore reducing healing time. 
There is good news. By slowly adding healthy fats into your diet and ditching the hydrogenated ones, you’d be doing your body a huge favor. This simple transition can do many great things for your body, including weight loss, hormone regulation, digestive improvements, regulated blood sugar throughout the day, and many more.
Now go eat some healthy fats!

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