The importance of Essential Fatty Acids (EFA)
The two main types of essential fatty acids are Omega 3 and Omega 6. They are essential because they can not be synthesized in the body but we do need them to lead a healthy life.
Both of these types of EFA’s are important. They have been shown to help with weight loss and weight maintenance with proper diet and exercise.
Omega 3 fatty acids are used as an anti-inflammatory and prevent heart disease. They have an effect on metabolism and blood sugar levels. Omega 3’s are also linked to a decrease in depression.
Omega 6 fatty acids help lower blood cholesterol and help to burn calories and fat. Low levels of EFA’s may lead to illnesses such as osteoporosis and dermatitis.
There are three types of Omega 3’s: Alpha linoleic acid (
Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). The body only uses
EPA and DHA so it will breakdown ALA
to EPA and DHA in order to use. Foods like salmon, herring and tuna contain EPA
and DHA. Plant foods such as flaxseed, pumpkin seeds and walnuts contain ALA.
If you are diabetic or have other conditions where it is difficult for you to
breakdown ALA ’s
then get your Omega 3’s from foods containing EPA or DHA. ALA
Vegetable oils contain high amounts of Omega 6 such as canola oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, corn oil and soybean oil but be careful with the oils since they may provide too much Omega 6. Also seeds and nuts like sunflower seeds, pecans, walnuts, and almonds.
The recommended daily intake for a healthy male is 17g of Omega 6 and 1.6g of Omega 3. For healthy women, 12g of Omega 6 and 1.1g of Omega 3.
It is very easy to consume an excess amount of Omega 6. Try to stay away from fried foods and oils as a source of Omega 6. A table spoon of sunflower oil had 8.9g of Omega 6. Instead try some walnuts for example which contain 9.5g of Omega 6 per ¼ cup.
Because of the mercury content in fish the American Heart Association recommends having 2 servings of fish per week. The fish should be caught in the wild and not farm raised. You want to avoid fish containing preservatives and hormones.
A supplement should also be taken daily to make sure you are getting enough EFA’s. Fish oil supplements as well as krill oil or other supplements containing Omega 3 are becoming very popular. You can also supplement with something containing Omega 6 as well if you are not consuming enough from food.
Try a bottle of MetRx Triple Omega or Nutriforce Sports Omegafort. They contain a great source of Omega 3, 6, and 9 blend and can help improve your performance!
Have a healthy day!