Essential Fatty Acids

Essential Fatty Acids

Essential Fatty Acids

Both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are types of polyunsaturated fat (PUFA). The principal omega-3 fatty acid is alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). One of the major types of omega-6 fatty acid is linoleic acid (LA), which accounts for 85-90% of dietary omega-6 fatty acids.

ALA and LA are known as essential fatty acids because they are essential for good health yet your body cannot make them (humans lack the enzymes required for their production). You must therefore get them from the food you eat.

Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are important because you need them for many vital body functions, and they are associated with several health-promoting benefits.

Essential Fatty Acid/Function

Sources

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

You need omega-3 fatty acids for many normal body functions, such as:

  • Controlling blood clotting.
  • Building cell membranes in the brain.

Research on omega-3 fatty acids suggests potential health-promoting benefits, including:

  • Protecting against coronary heart disease and possibly stroke.
  • Improving the lipid profile.
  • Reducing inflammation in heart disease, inflammatory bowel disease and rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Lowering blood pressure.
  • Preventing hardening of the arteries.
  • Lowering the risk for blocked blood vessels and heart attacks.

Your body converts ALA into two other important omega-3 fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenonic acid (DHA). 

Cereals

Granola, Porridge, Muesli, Oat Bars

Nuts

Hazelnuts, Pecans, Macadamias, Walnuts

Seeds

Chia Seeds, Linseeds, Pumpkin Seeds

Superfoods

Chia Seeds, Hemp Protein Powder

Omega-6 Fatty Acids

You need omega-6 fatty acids for many normal body functions, such as:

  • Maintaining normal brain function.
  • Stimulating skin and hair growth.
  • Maintaining bone health.
  • Regulating metabolism.
  • Maintaining the reproductive system.

Research on omega-6 fatty acids suggests potential health-promoting benefits, including:

  • Lowering LDL (‘bad’) cholesterol.
  • Lowering blood pressure.
  • Protecting against heart disease.
  • Improving insulin resistance and reducing the incidence of type 2 diabetes.

Cereals

Granola, Porridge, Muesli, Oat Bars

Nuts

Almonds, Brazil Nuts, Peanuts, Pecans, Pine Nuts, Pistachios, Walnuts

Seeds

Chia Seeds, Linseeds, Pumpkin Seeds, Sunflower Seeds,

Superfoods

Chia Seeds, Hemp Protein Powder