Essential Fatty Acids
|Essential Fatty Acids - The “Good” Fats||Darrell Miller||06/25/05|
|Benefits and Functions of Essential Fatty Acids||Darrell Miller||06/25/05|
|Sources of Essential Fatty Acids||Darrell Miller||06/25/05|
June 25, 2005 08:24 PM
Author: Darrell Miller (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Subject: Essential Fatty Acids - The “Good” Fats
All About Fats
Some people shy away from anything that has the word “fatty” associated with it. They instantly think it will cause them to gain unnecessary weight. However, there are “good fats” and “bad fats,” and the beneficial ones can actually help decrease the desire to eat the harmful ones. Fats are important for health. Also known as lipids, they help balance the body’s chemistry and provide padding as protection for vital organs. Fats provide a source of energy for body processes, and they help with the transportation and absorption of fat-soluble vitamins such as A, D, E, and K. They are also a source of the vital nutrients known as essential fatty acids. Categories of fats include the following:
SATURATED FATS: All fats are composed of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen molecules. The carbon atoms of fatty acids hold together in a chain-like fashion. These carbon atoms can attach hydrogen to them. When each place that can hold a hydrogen atom is filled and there is not room for even one more, they are described as saturated. The longer the chain, the harder the fat will be and thus, the higher its melting point. These types of long-chain fatty acids are found in “hard fats,” such as those in red meat, butter, cheese, sour cream and palm kernel and coconut oils. When a person’s diet is high in saturated fats, these fats tend to clump together in the body and form deposits, along with protein and cholesterol. They then lodge in the cells, organs and blood vessels. This can lead to many health problems, including obesity, heart disease, and breast and colon cancers.
UNSATURATED FATS: Unsaturated fats are called such because there are at least two adjacent carbon atoms on a chain which are not attached to hydrogen atoms. When at least two pairs of carbon atoms are empty it is known as a monounsaturated fatty acid. When two or more sets are empty, then it is referred to as a polyunsaturated fatty acid. A good rule of thumb is that the more saturated the fat, the more easily it will stay hard at room temperature.
ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS: Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are vital nutritional components that our bodies need for many functions. They are found in the seeds of plants and in the oils of cold-water fish. Essential fatty acids—sometimes referred to as vitamin F— cannot be made by the body; they must be sup-plied in the diet. However, at this time, the government has not officially established a Recommended Daily Intake (RDI). Many factors, including stress, allergies, disease, and a diet high in fried foods, can increase the body’s nutritional need for essential fatty acids.
June 25, 2005 08:29 PM
Author: Darrell Miller (email@example.com)
Subject: Benefits and Functions of Essential Fatty Acids
Benefits and Functions of Essential Fatty Acids
The body takes combinations of different triglycerides and makes fats from them to help in various processes. The basic building blocks of any fats are the fatty acids. Fatty acids are either essential or nonessential. A fatty acid is considered essential if 1) the body is unable to synthesize it and 2) the only way it can be obtained is through the diet. In addition, it is considered essential if a deficiency will cause a disease. As far back as 1930 researchers discovered that if an animal did not get essential fatty acids in the diet, it could cause symptoms such as poor reproduction, lowered immunity, rough, dry skin, and slow growth, among others. There are basically three essential fatty acids. They are linoleic acid, linolenic acid, and arachidonic acid. Linoleic acid is the most vital. Linolenic and arachidonic acids can be converted from linoleic acid, but linoleic acid must be obtained from the diet. Most people are unaware of the many vital functions of essential fatty acids. The list includes:
Cholesterol is synthesized throughout the body. It is manufactured by cells, glands, the small intestine and the liver. Cholesterol is constructed from dietary by-products of proteins, sugars and fats. If the diet contains excessive fats, especially the saturated types, the body will convert them into cholesterol. People who eat high sugar or fat diets may therefore experience elevated cholesterol levels.
Prostaglandins are found in almost all body cells, and act as catalysts for many physiological processes. They help prevent abnormal blood clotting and nerve inflammation. Prostaglandins also help promote blood circulation by dilating the blood vessels and improve immune system function. The most beneficial type of prostaglandin is called PGE-1. PGE-1 balances cholesterol and blood pressure levels, and stimulates the body’s production of T-lymphocytes which strengthen the immune capabilities. Each cell keeps tiny amounts of EFAs and produces prostaglandins from them as they are needed. The name prostaglandins was coined because these substances were originally found in high amounts in the prostate gland. To date, there have been discovered at least thirty-six different prostaglandins with a wide range of roles in the body.
June 25, 2005 08:38 PM
Author: Darrell Miller (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Subject: Sources of Essential Fatty Acids
Sources of Essential Fatty Acids
Essential fatty acids are found in both plant and animal sources, although primarily in plants. The EFA family is composed of two main forms, Omega-3 and Omega-6. The following explains exactly what these forms are.
OMEGA-3: The most common forms of Omega-3 are eicosapentaenioic acid (EPA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and alpha-linolenic acid, which comes from plants and helps create EPA and DHA. Omega-3 is usually derived from fish oils. Dr. Roger Illingworth, associate professor of medicine and biochemistry at Oregon Health Sciences University, explains that Omega-3 fatty acids are “long-chained metabolic products from linolenic acid. . . When animals consume and metabolize plants rich in linolenic acid, they produce Omega-3.” EPA and DHA are liquid and remain that way, even at room temperature. It is said that they protect fish by providing a body fat that stays fluid even in cold temperatures. OMEGA-6: The most common form of Omega-6 is is gammalinolenic acid (GLA). GLA is known to provide the following benefits, among many others:
1. Helps facilitate weight loss in overweight persons (but not in people who do not need to lose any weight).
2. Reduces platelet aggregation (abnormal blood clotting).
3. Helps reduce symptoms of depression and schizophrenia.
4. Alleviates premenstrual syndrome symptoms.
5. May help alcoholics overcome their addiction.
Omega-6 is usually found in plant sources. The oils of coldwater fish such as salmon, bluefish, herring, tuna, mackerel and similar fish are known as Omega-3 fatty acids. The freshpressed oils of many raw seeds and nuts contain Omega-6 fatty acids. The most popular sources of Omega-3 and Omega-6 include:
BLACK CURRANT SEED OIL: This oil is rich in linoleic acid (44%) and provides almost twice as much gamma-linolenic acid as evening primrose oil. Black currant seed oil also is an excellent source of an Omega-3 precursor known as stearidonic acid. BORAGE OIL: This oil comes from Borago officinalis, a plant with blue flowers. It is widely recommended in Europe to strengthen the adrenal glands, alleviate symptoms of premenstrual syndrome and relieve inflammation. Besides possibly helping with heart and joint function, it may also assist the growth of nails and hair. Borage oil is also an excellent source of GLA. In The Complete Medicinal Herbal, herbalist Penelope Ody asserts that it is “helpful in some cases of menstrual irregularity, for irritable bowel syndrome, or as emergency first aid for hangovers.” SALMON OIL: This oil is high in Omega-3 essential fatty acids. These types of EFAs are known to thin the blood, prevent clotting, regulate cholesterol production and strengthen cell walls, making them less susceptible to viral and bacterial invasion. Salmon oil has a natural ability to help the body relieve inflammation. In the ground-breaking book The Omega-3 Breakthrough: The Revolutionary, Medically Proven Fish Oil Diet, professor Roger Illingworth writes that Linolenic acid is a fatty acid with 18 carbons and 3 double bonds.
It is manufactured exclusively by plants. When animals consume and metabolize plants rich in linolenic acid, they produce Omega- 3. Plankton, a minute form of marine life, is part plant and part animal. Its plant component manufactures linolenic acid. Fish eat the plankton, and the linolenic acid breaks down in their bodies in two types of Omega-3 fatty acids: EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) . . . The liquidity of EPA and DHA serves a vital function in fish, who require body fat that remains fluid even in very cold water. Fish oils, besides containing Omega-3 fatty acids, have shown to benefit those suffering from migraine headaches, arthritis, and high cholesterol levels.
FLAX: Flax is a plant said to date back as far as 5000 B.C. It has been used since approximately 5000 B.C., making it one of the oldest cultivated crops. It is exported from several countries, including Argentina, Canada, India, Russia and the United States. The flowers are usually blue, although they are sometimes white or pink. The mucilaginous seed is, of course, called flaxseed. The oil primarily provides Omega-3/linolenic acid, and provides an average of 57 percent Omega-3, 16 percent Omega-6, and 18 percent of the non-essential Omega-9. Flaxseed oil is said to contain rich amounts of beta carotene (about 4,300 IU per tablespoon) and vitamin E (about 15 IU per tablespoon). In the October 1995 issue of Let’s Live, the history and uses of flax were highlighted by herbalist Carla Cassata. She writes, . . . It’s no wonder the Cherokee Indians highly valued the flax plant. They mixed flaxseed oil with either goat or moose milk, honey and cooked pumpkin to nourish pregnant and nursing mothers, providing them with the needed nutrients for creating strong and healthy children. It was also given to people who had skin diseases, arthritis, malnutrition as well as men wishing to increase virility. They believed flax captured energies from the sun that could then be released and used in the body’s metabolic process.
This belief has merit. Flaxseed oil, rich in electrons, strongly attracts photons from sunlight. To be effective, EFAs must be combined with protein at the same meal. This flaxseed oil/protein/ sunlight combination releases energy and enhances the body’s electrical system. Also, this combination, along with vitamin E, can be beneficial for infertile couples and women suffering from premenstrual syndrome . . . Flaxseed oil, having an anti-inflammatory effect on the body, can benefit the 40 million Americans suffering from osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. To achieve optimum results, however, substances that activate the sympathetic nervous system—like refined sugar, soda, coffee, fluoride— must be eliminated. Stress must also be reduced, because it too, activates the sympathetic nervous system, promoting inflammation.
EVENING PRIMROSE: This flower is indigenous to North America, although the oil is particularly popular throughout Europe for therapeutic purposes. It is also known as night wil - low and evening star. It is an excellent source of both linolenic and linoleic acids. Both of these nutrients must be obtained from the diet, as the body cannot synthesize them. The seeds contain gamma linolenic acid. This polyunsaturated EFA helps with the production of energy and is a structural component of the brain, bone marrow, muscles and cell membranes. Evening primrose oil has also benefited those with multiple sclerosis, PMS, hyperactivity and obesity. It is estimated that it takes about 5,000 seeds to produce the oil for one 500 mg capsule.