Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) are as the name implies – fats that are ‘essential’ to life.
Fatty acids are the building blocks of the fat in our bodies and in the food we eat. And they provide us with energy, which is necessary for many vital functions in our bodies. There are omega 3, 6 and 9 fatty acids, and they come from different sources, and have different functions for the body. They do, however, share a commonality, and that is helping to reduce inflammation in the body.
Omega 3s come from fish, hemp, flax, and chia. Omega 6 and 9s come from some vegetarian oils (such as olive, safflower, sunflower, and avocado oil), nuts, seeds, soybean and avocado. We tend to get enough omega 6 and 9 fatty acids in our diet, without trying too hard. On the other hand, it is often tough to get enough omega 3s in our diet and we often need to supplement with a good, quality omega 3, (in a vegetarian form or fish oil). The latter will tend to often have a higher concentration of omega 3s per serving, although the vegetarian oil is a good alternative for vegetarians and vegans. It is beneficial to have a ratio of 2:1 of omega 3: 6/9 in our bodies in order for the anti-inflammatory effects to be most beneficial.
When choosing an omega 3 oil, it is best to find a good source and of high quality that is free of PCBs, pesticides, impurities, and heavy metals. Many larger fish can contain many of these contaminants, and so choosing an oil made from smaller fish is often best – anchovies, mackerel, herring, and sardines.
So what are some of the health benefits of consuming these EFAs??
- Good for brain health – helping with anxiety, depression, cognition, focus, and memory
- Nourishing to the skin – for a healthy complexion, but also to treat certain skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, and acne
- Healthy lubrication for joints – EFAs can help with arthritis, joint pain/inflammation, and joint healing
- Balancing hormones – useful for women’s health concerns such as irregular menstrual cycles, cramps, heavy menstrual flow, perimenopause and menopause; as well as helping to balance testosterone in males and females
- Combatting stress – Omega fatty acids can help balance certain adrenal hormones such as cortisol and DHEA, which in turn can help us to cope or manage our stress response
- Enhance our immune systems
- Improving sleep
- Increasing energy levels
- Supports cardiovascular health – reducing the incidence of heart disease and stroke, encouraging a healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels
This list of health benefits that EFAs can provide is not complete – there are many more! But, the bottom line is that these EFAs are necessary for so many functions in our body that we couldn’t survive without them in our body. Most of us can do better to get more of them into our bodies on a daily basis, and in turn notice the overall improvement in your health!