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What Are Essential Fatty Acids?

Nov 23, 2009

Essential fatty acids are, as they sound, fats that are necessary within the human body. Though you've probably often heard the word "fats" and associated it with bad health, there are some essential fatty acids that are necessary for your survival. Without them, you could cause serious damage to different systems within the body. However, essential fatty acids are also not usually produced naturally within the body. This means that you have to obtain essential fatty acids by adding them to your diet. There are two basic types of essential fatty acids:

1. Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids

Omega-3 essential fatty acids are necessary within the human body, but they can also be produced modestly within the body. However, you need to be sure that enough Omega-3 is in your diet. Omega-3 serves a variety of purposes within the body. First, it helps your organs to function properly and also aids in cell activity within your body. Omega-3 essential fatty acids also help cell walls to form and helps oxygen circulation throughout the body. They also work with red blood cells to make sure they are doing their job.

A lack of Omega-3 essential fatty acids could lead to blood clots, problems with memory, a decreased sense of vision, irregular heartbeat and a decrease in the functioning of your immune system. In order to be sure you're getting enough Omega-3 essential fatty acids in your diet, try including more foods including flaxseed oil into your diet. Walnuts, sesame seeds, spinach, salmon and albacore tuna are some other foods that will help increase your Omega-3 levels.

2. Omega-6 Essential Fatty Acids

The main Omega-6 essential fatty acids that your body requires is linoleic acid. Omega-6 essential fatty acids help the body cure skin diseases, fight cancer cells and treat arthritis. However, the tricky thing with Omega-6 essential fatty acids is that most people do get enough in their diet, but they ruin it by eating foods that are high in sugar and trans fats. These factors lower the Omega-6 levels in the human body and actually do harm to you even if you are getting the right amount of Omega-6 essential fatty acids in your diet. If you're not getting enough, though, try to include flaxseed oil, pistachios, chicken and olive oil into your diet to raise your Omega-6 levels.

Easy Ways to Get More Essential Fatty Acids into Your Diet

It's not hard to add essential fatty acids to your current diet. All it takes is a conscious effort on your part to do it. Things like high heat temperatures can actually strip foods of their essential fatty acids. So if you're using nuts, for example, to raise the levels of your essential fatty acids, eat them raw instead of roasting them. Check the packages of the foods you buy to see if they have high levels of essential fatty acids. Try sprinkling flaxseed oil (a great source of essential fatty acids) onto vegetables instead of using butter. These are some simple ways to deliver more essential fatty acids to your diet.

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