Essential Fatty Acids are good fats. Though important, the body cannot make them by itself. You need to get EFAs from your diet. Good fats raise your HDL (High Density Lipoprotein) and grab your "bad cholesterol" (LDL- Low Density Lipoprotein) and escort them to the liver to be broken down and excreted. The 2 main families of EFAs are Omega-3 and Omega-6. They are also known as polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), and help stimulate brain functions, skin and hair growth, maintain bone health, regulate metabolism,maintain the reproductive system and act as the building blocks of hormones in your body and help balance your body's hormonal functions.
EFAs enable cells to obtain optimum nutrition, expel harmful waste products and manufacture and repair cell membranes. EFAs produce prostaglandins which regulate body functions such as heart rate, blood pressure, blood clotting, fertility, conception and play a role in immune functions by regulating the endocrine systems, inflammation and encouraging the body to fight infection. These help support cardiovascular, reproductive, immune and nervous systems.
The minimum healthy intake for both linolenic (Omega-3) and linoleic (Omega-6) acid via diet, per adult per day, is 1.5 grams of each. One tablespoon of flaxseed oil can provide this amount, or larger amounts of other linolenic-rich foods. Because high heat destroys linolenic acid, cooking in linolenic-rich oils or eating cooked linolenic-rich fish reduces the needed amount.
Research proves higher dietary Omega-3 fatty acid intakes help reduce cardiovascular-related diseases and risks, decrease myocardial infarction (heart attacks) and sudden cardiac death risks in individuals with coronary heart diseases (CHD). Increasing EPA and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) intake benefits individuals with type 2 diabetes, Therefore, itis recommended that all adults eat fish, particularly Omega-3 rich fish, at least twice weekly. Alternatively, you can get them from supplements. Remember, typical Western diets are often higher in Omega-6 fatty acids than Omega-3. Omega-3 fatty acid supplements are absorbed more efficiently with meals. Divide your daily dose into two or three smaller doses throughout the day to decrease gastrointestinal side effects.
EFA deficiency and Omega 3/6 imbalance can cause health problems like heart attacks, cancer, insulin resistance, asthma, lupus, schizophrenia, depression, post-partum depression, accelerated aging, stroke, obesity, diabetes, arthritis, ADHD and Alzheimer's Disease, among others.
Food Sources of EFAs
Flaxseed oil (has the highest linolenic content of any food) and flaxseeds, hempseed oil and hempseeds, walnuts, pine nuts, pistachio nuts, Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds (raw), olive oil, olives, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, avocados, some dark leafy green vegetables (kale, spinach, purslane, mustard greens, collards, etc.), canola oil (cold-pressed and unrefined), soybean oil, wheat germ oil, salmon, mackerel, sardines, anchovies, albacore tuna and others.
EFA's help treat Diabetic Neuropathy, Rheumatoid arthritis, Allergies, Attentiondeficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Breast Cancer, Eczema, HBP/Hypertension, Menopausal symptoms, Mastalgia, Multiple Sclerosis, Osteoporasis, PMS, etc.
Available in supplemental oils that contain linoleic acid (LA) and gamma linolenic acid (GLA), like evening primrose (Oenothera biennis) and black currant (Ribes nigrum) oils. Spirulina also contains GLA.