Bad fats, good fats …fatty acids is a balancing act! Are you getting enough omega-3 fatty acids? To help your omega-3 supplements work better, here are some tips:
1. Always take your supplements with food, because eating stimulates blood flow in your digestive system. Increased blood flow improves the absorption of the nutrients from your supplements.
2. Take your supplements all at once or throughout the day, as you prefer, but stick to a consistent schedule.
Your body needs a supply of good fats for energy and the normal development and growth of brain and heart cells. But bad fats can lead to increased health risks. How a particular type of fat influences your health depends on its unique blend of fatty acids. Some fatty acids increase your risk for cancer, heart attack, and stroke, while some help to protect against it. The trick is in knowing which fats are necessary for normal growth and development and which fats you should avoid or use in moderation.
Bad fats – Saturated fats
Saturated fats are found in animal products like meat, cheese, butter, and cream. They’re also found in tropical oils like palm and coconut. Eating too much saturated fat can increase your risk for coronary artery disease, diabetes, and obesity. Eating animal fat can also raise cholesterol levels. Saturated fats are solid at room temperature.
Trans fatty acids
Liquid vegetable oils are whipped with hydrogen to make a semisolid product, like vegetable shortening or margarine. Hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats are called trans fatty acids and these fats can raise LDL (bad) cholesterol. Since they can also lower your HDL (good) cholesterol, eating trans fatty acids can increase your risk of heart disease. Packaged foods likely to contain trans fats have the words “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated” vegetable oil on their labels. These hydrogenated oils are commonly used in pastries, cookies, and margarine. Hydrogenated oils are solid at room temperature.
Monounsaturated fatty acids. Monounsaturated fatty acids can help protect your cardiovascular system. Sources of monounsaturated fat include olive, canola, or peanut oil. Omega 9 (oleic acid) is the most prevalent monounsaturated fatty acid in nature. Monounsaturated fats are liquid at room temperature.
There are two major groups of polyunsaturated fats: omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-6 (linoleic) fatty acids are present in the seeds and oils of soybean, safflower, and corn. Omega-3 (alpha-linolenic) fatty acids are found in cold-water fish, spinach, kale, romaine lettuce, flaxseed, and evening primrose. Omega-6 oils can support heart health, but they can also provide negative health effects when consumed in excess. Omega-3 fatty acids support brain, heart, and joint health. Both omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids are liquid at room temperature.
Fatty acids – a balancing act…
Estimates from studies in Stone Age nutrition and modern-day hunter-gatherer populations suggest that humans have consumed a diet consisting of fish, meat, fruits, and vegetables for thousands of years. This diet was much lower in saturated fatty acids than our current diet and contained small amounts of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, in a 2:1 ratio.
But in the past 100-150 years, things have changed. Our diets are now disproportionately high in omega-6 fatty acids, with some ratios as high as 30:1. Why is this?
– We fill up on omega-6 rich foods like cereal, bread, crackers, cakes, and cookies while eating minimal amounts of omega-3 rich foods like dark, leafy greens, flaxseed, walnuts, and fish.
– Trawling and refrigeration have increased the popularity of white fish, like cod and haddock, over fatty shoreline fish like herring and sardines. White fish contains much lower levels of omega-3 fatty acids.
– Production-oriented agricultural practices have decreased the omega-3 content in green leafy vegetables, eggs – and even farm-raised fish – compared to the amounts found in the wild version of these same sources.
– Widespread efforts to lower cholesterol by replacing saturated fats with omega-6 corn and safflower oils have resulted in a dietary imbalance of omega-6 oils. This imbalance can increase the risk of certain health conditions.
Omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids can complement each other if they are in a healthy balance with each other. One way to restore the ratio is to increase omega-3 levels. But studies show that it’s equally important to lower omega-6 intake, overall. This was the conclusion of a 1999 Workshop on the Essentiality of Omega-6 and Omega-3 Fatty Acids, which was attended by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the World Health Organization, and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
Are we getting enough omega-3 fatty acids?
Although there are no Recommended Daily Allowances (RDAs) for omega 3s in the United States, Japan, England, and several European countries have set RDAs. The best scientific evidence says daily intake should be at least 600 milligrams. But most North Americans don’t eat much fish. The more popular fish tend to be those lower in omega 3s, like white fish. In addition, deep-frying can reduce omega-3 potency. So the average American diet contains fewer than 200 milligrams per day of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA.
Omega-3 fatty acids
EPA and DHA are two of the most important omega-3 fatty acids. And both EPA and DHA are essential nutrients, which means that your body needs them for normal function but cannot produce them. The only way to get these essential nutrients is to increase your fish consumption or take omega-3 supplements. Omega-3 fatty acids are the building blocks of every living cell in the human body. They are absolutely essential for normal health and development. Without them, cells can’t function, renew, or maintain themselves properly. Omega 3s promote cardiovascular health, support a healthy memory, are crucial for learning ability, help brain and vision development of infants, and promote natural joint flexibility and mobility.
Triglyceride forms of omega 3s
Omega-3 fatty acids in their natural triglyceride (TG) form are more easily and immediately digested into your system.Omega-3 fatty acids occur as triglycerides in natural fish oils. Your body is accustomed to handling fatty acids in this natural TG form and therefore they are more easily and immediately digested. Omega-3 fish oils that have not been converted back to the TG form are commonly available but are not efficiently converted by your body to the form you need to acquire the nutritional benefit. Triglycerides are natural molecules containing three fatty-acid chains attached to a glycerol backbone. In a TG form, the chain is structured in the natural state, making it more bioavailable.
DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid) DHA is the most highly unsaturated omega-3 fatty acid found in nature. DHA is critical for developing and maintaining the brain and eyes of the fetus, infant, child, and adult. DHA is an important building block of the brain, nerves, and eyes. It is found in 40-50% of brain lipid material and 60% of retinal material. DHA supports normal mental function and optimal memory, learning, and focus. Your ability to think, learn, and remember can be influenced by the amount of DHA in your cells. In a fetus and infant, DHA is critical for brain and vision development. DHA helps the brain’s billions of cells transmit electrical signals, ultimately shaping your thoughts, actions, and mood.
Brain-cell membranes that develop using trans fatty acid building blocks have a different structure and are less fluid than membranes built using DHA. This loss of fluidity makes it difficult for the brain cell to carry out its normal functions and increases the cell’s susceptibility to injury and death. Your body uses omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals to form the outer walls of every cell. This healthy cell structure helps maintain vital metabolic functions. And since your body cannot produce DHA or synthesize it from food, you need to add it to your diet or take DHA supplements.
DHA research…Your ability to think, learn, and remember can be influenced by the amount of DHA in your cells. Increased DHA fuels production of serotonin, the “feel-good” neurotransmitter, and can help support normal brain function. During pregnancy, DHA plays a key role in the normal development of the baby’s brain and eyes. Breast milk also contains DHA, which is believed to be a factor associated with infant brain development. Scientific studies have also found that low levels of DHA have been associated with reduced brain function and are linked to a number of mood problems.
EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid)…EPA helps in the synthesis of hormone-like substances called prostaglandins, with benefits for cardiovascular and joint health.Supportive but not conclusive research shows that consumption of EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. EPA also plays a role in supporting the natural movement of joints.
Your body uses omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals to form the outer walls of every cell. This healthy cell structure helps maintain normal metabolic functions. And since your body cannot produce EPA or synthesize it from food, you need to add it to your diet or take EPA supplements.
I understand that you can’t stand the smell of fish. I understand some can’t stand the taste of fish. But you do have choices. Can You really do without? Don’t you want to live longer?
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