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Flax seed plant above is rich in Omega 3 and can reduce inflammation.

Prevent diseases by eating Essential Fatty Acids

By Nikki Wilson
May 15, 2005

There are many different fats that we eat each day.  The majority of fats consumed in the American diet however have become out of balance with an overabundance of saturated fats.   The American diet consists on average a ratio of 15:1 (some say it is more like 20:1) of the saturated fat overpowering the unsaturated fat tremendously.  The ratio should be more of a 2:1 to a 4:1 ratio.  Saturated fats come from cuts of meat, dairy products and in lesser amounts in some vegetable oils, including coconut and palm kernel oils. Sources of unsaturated fats come from eating fish, vegetables, canola oil (derived from the rapeseed), flax seed, soybean, primrose oil, and borage oil. 

 

The essential fatty acids are necessary part of everyoneís diet.  The EFA are only from the food you eat, your body cannot manufacture them.  Food manufacturers have marketed that low fat diet was the solution.  It is important to understand that the low fat diet may not be the solution, but instead focusing on the types of fats being consumed.

The groupings of the types of fats are Poly-unsaturated fatty acid, Mono-unsaturated fatty acid, saturated fatty acid, and trans fatty acid.  The heart healthy polyunsaturated fatty acids are found in plants, some nuts, and fish which have the beneficial omega3 type of fat.  Monounsaturated fatty acids are found in plant foods such as olive, canola and soybean oils.  Both the polyunsaturated fats and the monounsaturated fats lower blood cholesterol levels.  The polyunsaturated fats work more efficiently at lowering the blood cholesterol level than the monounsaturated fats.  The saturated fatty acid will increase the blood cholesterol level and greatly increase the risk of heart disease.  The worst is the trans fatty acid which is mostly created by food manufacturers.  The trans fat, also called hydrogenated vegetable oil, is a process in which the oil is solidified to increase the shelf life of a product, such as margarine and baked goods that are meant for the long shelf stay.  The trans fat acts as the same way as the saturated fats by raising the blood cholesterol levels.   The convenience foods that we have come to enjoy are likely the cause of the inaccurate ratios of saturated to unsaturated fats.

Most people are aware that saturated fats affect the heart health contributing to greater risk of heart disease.  Saturated fats do have some beneficial effects to the health such as the enhancing the immune system, they are needed for healthy bones, used for energy and structural integrity of the cells, they protect the liver and boost the bodyís use of essential fatty acids. Stearic acid for instance, found in beef fat and butter, has cholesterol lowering properties and is beneficial for the heart.  Saturated fats stay stable longer and do not go rancid as fast. Because they are not rancid the saturated fats use less antioxidants to address rancidity.  The problem is not that we eat the saturated fats; it is more of a problem of the ratios we consume in relationship to unsaturated fats.  Saturated fats tend to overpower the unsaturated fats, not allowing the unsaturated fats to do their jobs.

The brain uses fatty acids for functioning well and studies have shown the trans fatty acids will take place of the DHA which is primarily used in the brain for the myelin sheaths, which are composed of 30% protein and 70% fat.  The trans fatty acids damages neurons in the brain.  The trans fats changes the electrical activity in the neurons which then disrupt the communication causing declined performance.  DHA comes from fish.   Children are able to manufacturer there own DHA from other Omega 3 sources up until adult hood at which they are needed to eat DHA fats from fish to get the correct nourishment.  One study showed that the elderly required a diet with more unsaturated fats to slow age related decline. "It seems that in the aging process there is an increasing demand for unsaturated fatty acids," concluded Dr. Antonio Capurso at the University of Bari. 

Reports of Parkinsonís and Alzeimerís is showing that the loss of membrane loss of fatty acid.  Scientists at the USDA's Laboratory of Neuroscience and at the Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University stated on the studies that "Thus it may be that an optimal diet with a balance of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids may help to delay their onset or reduce the insult to brain functions which these diseases elicit."

Not only is the brain helped by the DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) is also crucial in the development of the eyes as well.  Dry eyes could be helped by the increase of Omega3 fatty acids and great reduction of saturated fats.  Omega3 unsaturated fat plant sources from flax seed and especially Primrose oil have shown to help increase the eye moisture with people suffering from dry eyes.   The lack of omega-3 fatty acids in the diet has been associated with eye diseases. By changing the type of fats and boost the antioxidant omega-3 fatty acids in the diet, may help prevent vision loss by benefiting blood vessels and membranes of the retina.

People with allergies, or immune system problems such as rheumatoid arthritis, and most importantly people with dry itchy skin problems are likely to benefit from an adjustment of the type of fat intake in their diet.  They would need to limit the saturated fats and supplement the EFA by adding Evening Primrose Oil.  Studies are showing that people with various allergic reactions have a lower level of gamma-linolenic acid, and Omega 6 essential fatty acid.  By modifying their diet and supplementing with Primrose oil there bodies can boost the levels of the GLA (gamma-linolenic acid) and makes a hormone type substance called prostaglandin E1.  Borage oil also has high levels of GLA, however there are not as many studies with this type of oil.  Borage oil likely would have the same benefits as Primrose oil.

Gamma-Linolenic Acid has shown potential anticancer activity animal studies by test tube. Two studies were successful in some but not all animal studies proved beneficial. Another preliminary study was to inject GLA into cancerous tumors in people and this has helped and some regression occurred.  In some studies GLA was not proved effective in the treatment of cancer. 

By just taking supplements of the good kind of fats, and continuing to consume saturated and trans fats as usual benefits are not as likely to be seen.   The goal is to consume a 2:1 to a 4:1 ratio of saturated versus unsaturated fats.  Supplementing your diet by consuming beneficial fats such as DHA, flax seed, nuts, primrose oil, borage oil and olive oil should all be a part of the strategy to come achieve a reasonable fat ratio.  Limiting sugar intake can also help to manage fat levels that are out of ratio.  Sugar has been known inhibit the benefits of the essential fatty acids by increasing insulin thus having elevated triglyceride levels.  It would be especially important to remove the hydrogenated vegetable oils completely, as these have shown no benefit at all and wreck havoc in the body.  So fight the urge to eat manufactured food products as most will have hydrogenated vegetable oil in there ingredients.  The saturated fats are ok to eat so long as they are kept in balance with the unsaturated fats.  You need both to survive but without a balance the body does not work at optimal levels and introduces disease and illness.

List some of the types of fats and food sources.

 

Atoms

Carbon

 

 

Common Name

Bonds

Double

Scientific Name

Sources

 Butyric acid

4

0

 butanoic acid

 butterfat

 Caproic Acid

6

0

 hexanoic acid

 butterfat

 Caprylic Acid

8

0

 octanoic acid

 coconut oil

 Capric Acid

10

0

 decanoic acid

 coconut oil

 Lauric Acid

12

0

 dodecanoic acid

 coconut oil

 Myristic Acid

14

0

 tetradecanoic acid

 palm kernel oil

 Palmitic Acid

16

0

 hexadecanoic acid

 palm oil

 Palmitoleic Acid

16

1

 9-hexadecenoic acid

 animal fats

 Stearic Acid

18

0

 octadecanoic acid

 animal fats

 Oleic Acid

18

1

 9-octadecenoic acid

 olive oil

 Vaccenic Acid

18

1

 11-octadecenoic acid

 butterfat

 Linoleic Acid

18

2

 9,12-octadecadienoic acid

 safflower oil

 Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA)

18

3

 9,12,15-octadecatrienoic acid

 flaxseed (linseed) oil

 Gamma-Linolenic Acid (GLA)

18

3

 6,9,12-octadecatrienoic acid

 borage oil, evening primrose oil

 Arachidic Acid

20

0

 eicosanoic acid

 peanut oil, fish oil

 Gadoleic Acid

20

1

 9-eicosenoic acid

 fish oil

 Arachidonic Acid (AA)

20

4

 5,8,11,14-eicosatetraenoic acid

 liver fats

 EPA

20

5

 5,8,11,14,17-eicosapentaenoic acid

 fish oil

 Behenic acid

22

0

 docosanoic acid

 rapeseed oil

 Erucic acid

22

1

 13-docosenoic acid

 rapeseed oil

 DHA acid

22

6

 4,7,10,13,16,19-docosahexaenoic

 fish oil

 Lignoceric acid

24

0

 tetracosanoic acid

 small amounts in most fats

Related stories:

Sunflower Oil Lowers Cholesterol


By Nicole Wilson
Best Syndication Staff Writer

 


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Copyright 2005 Best Syndication                                            Last Updated Sunday, July 11, 2010 01:18 AM