Our body needs some essential fatty acids in order to ensure bodily functions and processes all work effectively, plus we can't produce them ourselves, so we need to ingest them!
Essential fatty acids (EFAs) are key to many of our body functions and processes. If you do not have a balanced and healthy diet you may not be eating enough EFAs and that will have a knock on effect on a range of things (detailed below)
The fatty acids that are needed by the human body, but can't be made and so must be eaten are called Essential Fatty Acids. Two essential fatty acids derived from plants are linoleic acid (LA) and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). Two of the most common essential fatty acids that you will have heard of that come from fish are omega-3 and omega-6. They are usually derived from oily fish like salmon and mackerel.
Also for vegetarians unable to benefit from the oily fish, hemp seed oil, udo's oil and flax seed oil are great providers of EFAs.
There are a number of benefits including cell development, helping to stop cancer cell growth and even development of the nervous system. So as you can see pretty much essential for all of us to take EFAs very seriously.
Omega-3 is vital for the creation of cell walls that are supple and flexible. They help to produce haemoglobin in the blood and with the transfer of oxygen around the body. They are also fundamental to how our bodies are able to turn food efficiently into energy. This makes them of particular importance to growing children. Omega-3 deficiency is thought to be a major cause of poor health in Western countries, particularly in the US.
EFAs can also help in breaking down cholesterol, help regulate your blood pressure and help prevent skin complaints like dandruff, eczema and splitting nails.
Did you know that as well as all of the above, essential fatty acids also help the body to breakdown and get rid of unhealthy saturated fats. So good for your dieting too!
If you have a diet that is lacking in EFAs, or you don't eat the specific foods that contain a lot of EFAs (see below for some ideas) then there are some quite important effects on your body both at cellular level and to do with your personality. For example the following are all common symptoms :
There has in addition been reports of children with ADHD and adults with Alzheimers having very low levels of EFAs. A coincidence?
Heat, light and oxygen can destroy EFAs; so its better to try to consume them in a raw, rather than a cooked, form. For example, raw nuts are likely to have a higher content than roasted nuts. Heating olive oil may also weaken the EFAs it contains so try to include some uncooked oil in your diet.
As discussed above, there's lots of sources of EFAs including for Omega-3 :
In nuts and oils, you can also find a lot of omega-6 too.
Essential fatty acids are named perfectly. They are essential for your body to function properly, are essential to help you maintain a fit and healthy diet and also essential for many processes that keep your mental state positive, your skin and hair in good condition and even to help you fight off some cancerous cells.
Wikipedia - en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Essential_fatty_acid
Oregon State University - lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/othernuts/omega3fa/
Science Daily - Cancer - http://www.sciencedaily.com