Polyunsaturated Fats: Essential Fatty Acids

Polyunsaturated fats are the Omega 3 and Omega 6 essential fats – also known as essential fatty acids. They are essential for good health.

They are good fats and together they help reduce the risk of cancer, fatigue, heart disease, allergies, eczema, Alzheimer’s disease, PMS and more. These fats also help improve your mood and prevent dementia.

Walnuts are high in polyunsaturated fats

Polyunsaturated fats protect the heart by helping to increase the good HDL cholesterol level which reduces the LDL/HDL ratio in the blood.

It is important to strike a balance between omega 3 fatty acids and omega 6 fatty acids as they work together to promote good heath. An excess of omega 6 fats can contribute to inflammation resulting in heart disease, cancer, arthritis, depression and asthma.

A healthy balance is to eat roughly two to four times more omega 6 fats than omega 3 fats. A typical western diet contains 11 to 30 times more omega 6 fats than omega 3 fats – which is why these ailments are on the rise.

Let us take a look at the omega fatty acids in more detail:

Omega 3 fatty acids

  • Make prostaglandins, which are hormone-like substances essential for proper brain function – which in turn affects mood, learning ability, vision & co-ordination.
  • Control fat levels and blood cholesterol by reducing the harmful effects of the bad LDL cholesterol.
  • Reduce the coagulation tendency (stickiness) of the blood.
  • Improve metabolism, immune function, maintain water balance and reduce inflammation.
  • Can prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

The most important Omega 3 fatty acids are EPA and DHA. DHA is especially important for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers and young children as it is used for healthy development of the brain and vision.

Unfortunately we all tend to be more deficient in Omega 3 oils than Omega 6 oils due to the fact that they are easily damaged in cooking and processing of food….which is why they are excluded from convenience foods.

Sardines are high in polyunsaturated fats

Omega 3 fats are found in seeds and carnivorous fish. Fish are the best source of omega 3 fats – especially cold water fish.

They are found in:

  • Mackerel
  • Herring
  • Salmon
  • Sardines
  • Trout
  • Swordfish
  • White fish
  • Canola oil
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Flax seeds – also known as linseeds
  • Hemp seeds
  • Walnuts

Omega 6 fatty acids

  • Help with bloating and pain associated with PMS
  • Maintains healthy skin, hair and nails
  • Helps keeps hormones and emotions in balance
Omega 6 fats come only from seeds and their oils.

They are found in:

  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Hemp seeds
  • Sesame seeds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Walnuts
  • Safflower oil
  • Wheat germ
  • Soya bean oil
  • Borage oil

GLA is an important fatty acid of the Omega 6 family.

List of other foods which contain mostly polyunsaturated fats:

  • Brazil nuts
  • Pecan nuts
  • Almonds
  • Vegetable margarine
  • Cottonseed oil
  • Cottage cheese

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