Essential. What can we not live without. Yes, some fats we simply canâ€™t live without. The essential fatty acids (EFA), linoleic and linolenic acid, are not made in the body. They must be attained by the foods we eat. They are the` basis for building all other fats in the body as well as cell membranes, hormones, and other chemical messengers. It IS important to replenish the bodyâ€™s daily need of EFAâ€™s.
Omega -3 fatty acids are in the form of ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), EPA (eicosapentaneoic acid), and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). Along with fish, especially oily fish, flax seeds/oil and nuts are good sources of Omega -3. They are even found in dark leafy greens, seeds, eggs, soybeans, and canola oil. Although these are good sources of Omega -3, ALA is mainly a source for energy and must be converted into EPA, to produce hormones, and DHA, required for brain development, vision, etc. Unfortunately, most studies have shown that only ten to thirty-five percent of ALA is converted to EPA and DHA. So, when choosing flax and walnuts to meet your daily need for Omega -3, remember not all ALA will be converted. The suggested daily amount is one tablespoon flax oil.
Omega -6 fatty acids are in the form of LA (linoleic acid), GLA (gamma-linolenic acid), and (AA) arachidonic acid. They are found in foods with polyunsaturated fats (best fat): corn oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, soybean oil, walnuts, peanuts, almonds, sunflower seeds. Herbs and supplements that are rich in Omega -6 and in the form of GLA are borage, black currant, and evening primrose
Popular sources of Omega -3 and -6 in the vegetarian community are chia and salba seeds. Chia seeds are high in Omega-3 in the form of ALA, but salba seeds contain both Omega -3 in the form ALA as well as Omega -6. These seeds are very versatile and can be added to smoothies, in salad dressing, even along with scrambled eggs.
Both Omega -3 and -6 are noted in the prevention of irregular heartbeats, lower blood pressure, reduce chronic inflammation, and even prevent atherosclerosis. Although fish is a good source of Omega 3, it is helpful consider the exposure of mercury, toxins, and loss of oils due to poor processing and storage.
Lastly, Omega -9 (oleic acid) is a monosaturated fat that also promotes heart health and cancer. It is found in olive oil, peanut oil, avocados, and nuts.
Those with diabetes, arthritis, and Crohnâ€™s disease all benefit from diets rich in the Omegaâ€™s.