Chances are you know the importance of vitamins and minerals to your health, but are you aware that your body also relies on fatty acids for many of its functions?
Fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats. You may know them as Omega-3, Omega-6, and Omega-9. These “good fats” are created by breaking down other fats. Since they’re essential for health and aren’t produced by the body (except for Omega-9), we need to eat food or take supplements that include them.
Fatty Acids Are Essential For Health
Fatty acids strengthen your health in many ways, including:
- Help in the movement of oxygen through the bloodstream
- Develop healthy cell membranes and tissue
- Aid in the proper functioning of organs
- Retain healthy lipid levels in the blood
- Aid the functioning of the immune system
- Aid brain function
- Control inflammation
- Help in blood clotting and regulating blood pressure
In addition to these critical functions, fatty acids can also bring you other desirable benefits, from helping you stay in shape to making you look younger.
For example, here are some additional ways that Omega-3 can benefit you:
1. Boosts your brainpower. Researchers have discovered that increasing your Omega-3 intake may actually improve your brain capabilities.
- Dr. Alex Richardson, a physiologist at the University of Oxford, and Madeleine Portwood, a special education psychologist, studied the effects of increased Omega-3 in 100 school children. They found that 40% of the kids showed a remarkable improvement in their grades and many developed a new interest in reading and music.
2. Helps you lose weight. Omega-3 aids in the processing of cholesterol, regulating blood sugar levels, and helping in the functioning of the thyroid gland, which regulates weight. An under-active thyroid causes excessive weight gain.
- According to Udo Erasmus, an expert in nutrition, Omega-3 fatty acids help you burn more calories by increasing your metabolic rate. It’s not how many calories you consume, but how easily you burn them that counts!
3. Gives you healthy, younger looking skin. If you want supple, glowing skin, eat food containing Omega-3 fatty acids to help prevent premature aging. They also reduce acne, dry and scaly skin, and skin inflammation.
Sources of Fatty Acids
A western-style diet barely contains any fatty acids. For example, the acids in canned and instant foods are leached out by the hydrogenation process, which gives a long shelf life to these products.
Getting your fatty acids through fresh, unprocessed foods will give you the full benefits.
Fatty acids can be found in certain plants and fish. The list below includes some of the sources for Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids:
- Oily fish like Salmon, Halibut, Tuna
- Ground flax seeds and Flax oil (linseed oil)
- Safflower oil
- Rapeseed oil
- Soybean oil
- Mustard oil and Mustard greens
- Walnut oil and walnuts
- Wheat Germ Oil
- Pumpkin seeds
- Sesame Seeds
Although oily fish are a good source of fatty acids, ensure that you heed some precautions if you intend on relying on fish to provide them:
- Studies reveal that fish is prone to high levels of contamination via PCBs, radioactive poisons, heavy metals, and industrial pollutants such as mercury. Eating farm-raised fish usually eliminates this issue.
- The EPA and the FDA have also warned that eating certain types of fish and shellfish can harm young children as well as nursing and pregnant women.
- What’s more, oxidants are added to fish oil in processing to prevent it from becoming rancid. Obtaining your fatty acids from many different sources would be more beneficial for you.
Taken in the right amounts, fatty acids help you stay healthy, smart, young, and fit. Eating a variety of fresh foods with these beneficial nutrients is one of the best things you can do for yourself!