Essential Fatty Acids

Essential Fatty Acids

As you’re all aware, fat gets a bad reputation in the media. Fat makes you fat and that’s it! It does you no good and you should eradicate it from your diet. That’s the message that’s promoted. Fat also got a bad name as it’s directly linked with clogging up your arteries thus leading to strokes etc, so it also got a bad name from health officials. Has this stopped the rising problem of obesity? No. In fact some people think the focus on the adverse effects of fat could be contributing to the obesity epidemic as people choose ‘low fat’ products often containing higher amounts of sugar and trans-fats.

We need to re-educate peoples understanding of fats and the importance they play in our bodies’ day to day function.

Let’s take a look at the 3 main types of fat.

Saturated fat, often associated with animal fat. This is the type of fat that should be reduced, but not eliminated from our diet. Typical beef fat contains 55% saturated fat, 40% monounsaturated and 5% polyunsaturated fat.

Monounsaturated fats are found in olive, rapeseed and flaxseed oils. Increasing the consumption of these types of fat may have a beneficial effect on reducing LDL and help keep HDL high.

Polyunsaturated fat is slightly more confusing as it comes in 3 forms, Omega 3, 6, and 9. Humans evolved on an Omega 6:3 ratio of 1 or 2: 1, however the typical western diet is more like 10-20: 1. Typically flaxseed, rapeseed and fish oils are high in Omega 3. Omega 6 is most likely to come from animal fat and sunflower/ peanut oil.

Increasing Omega 3 intake could assist in fat loss by: a – increasing fat oxidation whilst exercising, b – increasing insulin sensitivity thus reducing/ managing insulin production and c – increasing mitochondria burning efficiency.

Increasing Omega 3 could also have good anti-atherosclerotic properties too by reducing inflammation, platelet aggregation and blood clotting.

Omega 3 has also been shown to have beneficial effects on cancer cells and may also help to keep you looking younger.

So to summarise, a general increase in Omega 3 to somewhere around the 1 or 2 : 1 Omega 6 to 3 ratio may be beneficial, whilst the reduction in saturated fat will help to keep LDL Cholesterol levels low. Typically aim to get 25-35% of your diet from fat with roughly a 33% input from Sat/ Mono and Poly fat.

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