EFA, or Essential Fatty Acids, are one of the building blocks for good health. They must be ingested because humans are not able to manufacture them. EFAs are not to be confused with the type of fat that is used by the body for fuel. The word "Essential" in the name refers to the fact that these fats are needed so that the body can perform certain biological functions.
In recent years, fat has almost become a dirty word when it comes to nutrition. The fact is that not all fats are bad for you, and you need to have a certain amount of fat in your diet to stay healthy. EFAs are considered good fats.
Keeping the level of trans fats, which are found in processed foods and baked goods, down will help you to achieve good health. Consumption of animal fat is also something that you should be trying to keep to a minimum. Choosing lean cuts of meat and trimming visible fat before cooking are good strategies for helping you to reduce your fat intake. EFA supplements are popular for just this reason.
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EFA Basics EFAs are considered good fats for a couple of reasons. For one thing, they help to increase the High Density Lipoprotein (HDL) levels in the body. HDL is your good cholesterol. It goes to work in the body and attaches to the Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) or bad cholesterol and m... more
EFAs are considered good fats for a couple of reasons. For one thing, they help to increase the High Density Lipoprotein (HDL) levels in the body. HDL is your good cholesterol. It goes to work in the body and attaches to the Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL) or bad cholesterol and moves it to the liver so that it can be broken down and eventually excreted.
There are two types of EFAs: Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. Essential Fatty Acids are made up of linolenic, linoleic, and oleic acids, and they help support the body's immune, cardiovascular and reproductive systems. EFAs are also responsible for keeping the nervous system working properly.
The EFAs are required to manufacture and repair cell membranes. EFAs are responsible for producing prostaglandins which, in turn, regulate the following bodily functions:
The EFAs also make it easier for the body to fight off infections and help to regulate inflammation. An EFA-deficient diet has been linked to several serious health conditions, including heart attacks, stroke, obesity and diabetes. People who don't ingest enough EFAs are also at higher risk for cancer, asthma, lupus, depression and schizophrenia.
The main Omega-3 fatty acid is Alpha Linolenic Acid (ALA). It is essential for forming cell walls that are flexible and supple. This EFA helps to improve circulation and oxygen uptake.
Omega-3 fatty acid deficiencies have been linked to memory issues, vision problems and high blood pressure. It is also connected to a higher risk of developing blood clots, immune system issues and increased LDL ("bad") cholesterol levels.
Flaxseed oil is an important source of Omega-3 fatty acids. The adult dosage is one tablespoon per day. You can also get this important nutrient by eating fatty fish, such as salmon, mackerel, albacore tuna, sardines and anchovies. Eating dark green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, kale, collards and mustard greens, will also help you get the amount of Omega-3 you need to optimum health.
Omega-6, or Linoleic Acid, is the other EFA that you need to include in your diet for good health. People who get enough of it in their diet may find that they get some relief from the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and eczema. Women of childbearing years may find that they are less bothered by the symptoms of PMS if they include Omega-6 rich foods in their diet.
Sources of Omega-6 in foods include olives, olive oil and chicken. Other good sources include flaxseeds, flaxseed oil, flaxseed meal and raw sunflower seeds. You can also get Omega-6 from pumpkin seeds, pine nuts, pistachios and evening primrose oil.
As the name implies, EFAs are essential for good health. Keep this fact in mind when you are making choices about what kinds of foods to buy and serve to yourself and your family. If you don't feel that you can get enough EFAs through your diet, you can look at taking flaxseed oil daily to make sure you are getting all of their benefits.
When you are shopping for flaxseed oil, keep in mind that this product must be kept refrigerated. It should be packaged in an opaque container to help to keep it fresh. Remember that this is not cooking oil; if you would like to add it to foods, be sure to do so after the dish has been prepared.
There are not any certain side effects with EFAs; however, there are some know interactions and cautions. They may raise triglyceride levels, so anyone who already has an issue with high triglycerides should avoid EFAs. Some EFAs may cause weight gain. Finally, there is a concern that they can increase the risk of prostate cancer. If this type of cancer runs in your family, you should avoid this supplement.
Essential Fatty Acids like Omega-3 and Omega-6 offer numerous benefits. Certain fish, green leafy vegetables, flaxseeds and olive oil are all good ways to get EFAs into your body with food. However, most people do not get enough. If you feel your diet is lacking in EFAs, use the supplement finder now!
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