Healthy Fats and their roles
October 29, 2018
Posted by James J
Our relationship and journey with fat has been a long one fraught with confusion and misinformation. As we gain a better understanding and appreciation for the benefits of good fat we now know how critical fat is for our overall health and well-being.
Today we’re going to look at the benefits granted from the three major omega fats: Omega 3, Omega 6, and Omega 9. Each has its own distinct benefits, however the right balance is essential, and consequently, the wrong balance can contribute to a long list of chronic diseases.
Omega-3: The Swiss Utility of The Omegas
Omega-3 is probably the most beneficial of the omega fatty acids. The best sources of omega-3 fatty acids are from fatty fish such as salmon and cod and nuts and seeds such as walnuts and chia seeds. The benefits of omega-3 fatty acids are numerous, but a few that should stand out above the others are the following:
Heart Disease: Omega-3 has long been a top suggestion for ways to lower the risk of heart diseases. Omega-3 fatty acids improve a plethora of risk factors such as: reduction in triglycerides, reducing blood pressure, raises HDL cholesterol, and can reduce the formation of blood clots.
Inflammation: Omega-3 fatty acids can reduce the production of substances linked to inflammation, such as eicosanoids and cytokines.
Arthritis: Omega-3 fatty acids have shown an ability to help improve grip strength and lower the pain from those suffering from arthritis in their hands.
Sleep: Interestingly, it appears that omega-3 levels within the body appear to correlate with sleep issues to a degree. Low levels of DHA are linked to lower levels of melatonin.
Omega-6: Good For Us But We Get Too Much
Conversely, while we do not get enough omega-3 fatty acids in the average diet we do get way too much omega-6 within the diet. Omega-6 fatty acids play a very important part in the body of maintaining hormonal balance and boosting immune function. However, we current get omega-6 at a ratio of roughly 20mg for ever 1mg of every omega-3. This is well above the ideal ratio which is believed to be 4:1 or less omega-6 to omega-3.
Inflammation: Omega-6 is a pro-inflammatory substance and plays an important part in immune health. While inflammation is a ‘bad word’ it is only an issue when it occurs chronically within the body. Acute inflammation plays an important role within the immune system by helping the body identify issues and take action.
Hormones: Omega-6 is an important ingredient for the creation of many hormones and is crucial to achieving hormonal balance.
Omega-9: Not Essential But Beneficial
Omega-9 is a non-essential nutrient found primarily in nuts and olive oil. While omega-9 is not an essential nutrient to the body (as the body can produce it), intake of the fat is not detrimental to health. In fact, some studies show that consuming omega-9 fat helps fight LDL cholesterol and helps improve insulin sensitivity among those with diabetes.
How can I improve my fat balance?
For most, the first key is to increase our intake of omega-3 fatty acids and reduce our intake of omega-6 fatty acids. The best way to achieve the aforementioned it to increase the consumption of the correct fish and nuts. An additional avenue is to take an omega-3 or general purpose omega supplement to help improve the levels consumed in your diet. As for omega-6 fatty acids the key is to reduce the amount consumed. The easiest way to achieve this is to cut out vegetable oils from our diet and replace them with coconut oil. The MCT oils found in coconut oil are extremely healthy and vegetable oil is the leading cause of our over consumption of omega-6 oils.