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Healthy Oils and Essential Fatty Acids

HealthyOils

The topic of healthy oils is one that gets overlooked because of the bad wrap that fats have, especially amongst the dieters of the world.

We should all be consuming approximately 30% of our calories as healthy oils. Low fat and no fat diets are quite dangerous and should be avoided.

We all need quality essential fatty acids in our body as vital components of our:

  • Cell membranes,
  • Nerve cells,
  • Organs,
  • Brain,
  • Eyes, and
  • Hormones.

The challenge today is once again the deficiencies and imbalances of healthy oils and essential fatty acids in our food sources.

Due to common problems with agricultural and livestock practices, food processing and poor food choices, it is virtually impossible to get optimal concentrations of healthy fats in a traditional diet.

According to many authorities, unless you take a well-formulated essential fatty acid supplement every day, you will experience deficiency symptoms leading to chronic and degenerative diseases.

(Photo compliments of commons.wikimedia.org)


Understanding Fat Metabolism in the Body

In general, you need to understand that healthy oils and essential fatty acids (EFAs), those the body cannot synthesize on its own, are needed in the diet.

Although there are many healthy oils, but in this article I want to focus on the essential ones, and there are two: alpha-linolenic acid (an omega-3) and linoleic acid (an omega-6).

These EFAs are activated within the cell membrane into prostaglandin hormones, and there are three types of prostaglandins produced, depending on the type of fat/oil you are consuming in your diet. They are collectively referred to as prostaglandin series 1, 2 and 3.

Essentially, Prostaglandin Series 1 and 3 (PG-1, and PG-3) produce positive health effects, whereas Prostaglandin Series 2 (PG-2) produces inflammatory bi-products and are associated with atherosclerosis, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, arthritis, joint-muscle-and-tendon conditions, Crohn's disease, colitis, cancer, eczema, psoriasis and many more detrimental health challenges.

So which Oils are Healthy Oils?

All oils are healthy in moderation, but it is the ratio that is important. Most western diets have an omega-6 to omega-3 ratio in excess of 10 to 1, whereas the optimal ratio is 3 to 1.

Hemp seed oil for instance has gained much fame because of its perfect 3 to 1 ratio of omega essential fatty acids.

The need then is to supplement our diet, especially with omega-3 fatty acids in order to balance the over production of PG-2 prostaglandins.

Although we do need a 3 to 1 ratio of linoleic to linolenic acid, we need to stay away from too much PG-2 formation. Hence you must avoid over-consumption of the following oils containing omega-6 linoleic essential fatty acids:

  • High fat meats,
  • High fat dairy products,
  • Corn Oil,
  • Sunflower Seed Oil
  • Safflower Seed Oil, and
  • Mixed Vegetable Oils

A healthier source of omega-6 fatty acids that convert to PG-1 instead of PG-2 is gamma-linolenic acid and it is found primarily in

  1. Borage oil, and
  2. Evening primrose oil.
  3. Black Currant Oil

But since most of the western world consumes way too much omega-6 EFA, most people will need to focus on taking a high quality omega-3 supplement, to help balance the ratios.

The key building block for PG-3 is an omega-3 fatty acid known as EPA or eicosapentaenoic acid, which is found in

  1. Cold-water fish such as salmon, anchovies, sardines and tuna.

  2. Flaxseed Oil and Black Currant Oil are both important oils as they contain an omega-3 fat called ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) that can be converted in the body into EPA. This is especially good to know for the vegetarians and vegans in the crowd who may not want to consume a fish oil supplement.

Vegetarians beware...if you are pregnant or a child, I would highly recommend supplementing with a high quality fish oil, because all developing brains and nervous systems require DHA (docosahexanoic acid) for proper growth and function. And although ALA can be converted to DHA, the rate of conversion is still questionnable.

Note too that Olive Oils and Canola Oils are good sources of monounsaturated fat (oleic acid, an omega-9 fatty acid). Since they do not participate in formation of prostaglandins, they are helpful in reducing cholesterol and in cardiovascular support.

Since there is so much we could discuss when it comes to Healthy Oils, I will end our intro conversation here and refer you to the following pages that will go into more detail on some of the specific oils and their benefits as I have time to write them.

Enjoy...



Yours in Wellness,

Dr. Lisa

Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Understand the health effects of including a quality omega-3 fatty acids into your diet.

Coconut Oil Benefits: Coconut oil has been given a bad reputation in the mainstream, but it really does have some amazing health benefits and may even help you loose weight...read more here.

Olive Oil Benefits: Mediterranean peoples have always known the wonders of olive oil. Now, research and science is catching up to ancient wisdom...learn more here.

Flaxseed Oil Benefits: From weight loss, to cancer prevention...flaxseed oil benefits are numerous; too numerous to stay in the dark about. Understand why adding flaxseed oil to your daily diet is a must.

Evening Primrose Oil Benefits: If you are a woman, keep reading. By far, the best known use of evening primrose oil is for PMS, menopause, fibrocystic breast disease and endometriosis. Read about these qualities and so much more...

Salmon Oil Benefits: Why supplement with Salmon Oil...news for you and your pets.

DHA Benefits: Every bright brain starts with a good dose of DHA. If you are pregnant, have young children or are even experiencing brain fog, then read more here...

Vitamin E Benefits: Why is Vitamin E so essential to life? Am I getting enough? Get the facts on this important antioxidant vitamin here...

Vitamin A Benefits: Vitamin A, also known as retinol is vital for eye health, but that is not all this important vitamin is responsible for...

Vitamin D Benefits: Most of us realize that vitamin D is critical for bone health, but what about immunity, insulin or cancer? Find the facts here...

Beta-Sitosterol: a plant sterol (fat) that looks similar to cholesterol, and has shown positive effects in reducing blood cholesterol levels as well as in treating benign prostatic hyperplasia. Please read more about this important and overlooked healthy oil.

Gamma-oryzanol: Derived from Rice Bran Oil, this healthy oil is new on the block, with potential to assist in cholesterol reduction, menopausal symptoms and ulcers. Read more about this new antioxidant...

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