3 Facts You Need to Know About Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 Fatty Acids are NOT part of the Killing fats

Contrary to what we have been led to believe, the body needs fat sources – but of the right kind.

One of these reasons is that during infancy and childhood, healthy fat is necessary for normal brain development. Another one is that fats, the most concentrated source of energy available to the body, participate in building the tissues, in the proper exchange of fluid and nutrients, and in supporting growth. However, after about two years of age, the body requires a much smaller amount of fat. Thousands of clinical researches are now showing us the importance of essential fatty acids, particularly the Omega-3s, and the right fats we need to support the needs of our body and our brain.

Unfortunately, the wrong type of fats constitute up to 30-40 percent of the American diet, far in excess of the optimum 10-20 percent ratio that health organizations recommend.

And we now know that excessive and poor quality dietary fat intake is a major factor that is causing obesity and other degenerative conditions to sore! Look around, cardiovascular problems (strokes, heart attacks, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and hardening of the arteries), tumors and cancers, disorders of the liver, kidneys, prostate and gall bladder, inflammatory diseases (arthritis, asthma, colitis, skin disorders), brain and nerve damage, and poor immunity conditions are pretty common now…

In fact, did you know that degenerative diseases caused by fats prematurely kill about 1 person out of 3 people currently living in industrialized nations? Yes, a whooping 70% percent of all people die from just three conditions that involve the wrong fatty acids: Cardiovascular disease (43.8%), Cancer (22.4%), and Diabetes (1.8%)!

And, did you know that overconsumption of poor quality fats not only makes you fat, overtaxes the liver functions, but also promotes mental and emotional imbalances such as anger, violence, lack of concentration, fatigue and depression?

But let’s us quickly review the major categories of fatty acids: saturated, polyunsaturated, and monounsaturated.

Saturated fats are used by the liver to manufacture cholesterol.

Saturated fats are solid at room temperature and are found primarily in animal sources such as meats, eggs, and dairy products. Some vegetable products, including coconut, palm oil, peanut oil, and vegetable shortening, are also high in saturates. They are the most stable and have fewest rancidity problems.

While generally decreasing the consumption of saturated fats is advisable, several scientific studies indicate that some saturated fats have beneficial biological effects, unlike trans-fats which are always harmful. Some saturated fatty acids, particularly medium chain fatty acids such as lauric and

capric acids, such as in coconut and palm oil, have been found to play an important role in supporting the immune system and delivering other health benefits.

However, excessive dietary intake of saturated fats can significantly raise the level of blood cholesterol, especially the “bad cholesterol” (LDLs), leading to heart and artery problems. Arteriosclerosis and cancer are the leading cause of death today!

Stress, caffeine, refined sugar and cigarette smoking are other factors contributing to elevated cholesterol.

Monounsaturated fatty acids (oleic acid) are found mostly in vegetable, nuts, and cooking oils such as olive, avocado and peanut. They are liquid at room temperature but solid in the refrigerator, and have a relatively slow rate of deterioration. These fats appear to reduce blood levels of LDLs without affecting HDLs. However, this positive impact upon LDL cholesterol is relatively modest, and it is better to moderate dietary intake of these oils, especially because of the ratio Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids (please read below).

For cooking purposes, the unrefined monounsaturated oils, such as virgin olive, sesame, oleic sunflower and oleic safflower oils are generally more healthful than the common polyunsaturated corn, soy, sunflower and safflower oils. Other healthy monounsaturated fats are in avocados, almonds, and peanuts.

Polyunsaturated fatty acids are the predominant group of fats consumed today with Omega-6 fatty acids (Linoleic acid, or LA), which are very commonly found in canola, corn, soybean, safflower, sunflower, walnut oils and in certain fish oils. They remain liquid even at refrigerator temperatures. Unlike saturated fats, polyunsaturates, unrefined and non-rancid, may actually lower the total blood cholesterol level (both LDLs and HDLs, forming the”good cholesterol”).

But because the shelf life of common polyunsaturated oils (most vegetable oils) is only of about three months, they are primarily sold commercially in highly refined forms. Studies done with rats have shown an increase in the size of fat cells with a high consumption of polyunsaturated fats. Corn oil, soya, canola and other oils high in Omega 6 or other polyunsaturated oils also increase fat size, particularly if they are from a GMO source, as the majority of corn, soya and canola oils are today…  Saturated fats also increase the size and volume of the fat cells, while monounsaturated fats do not.

The main negative implications derive from the fact that these poor qualities of polyunsaturated oils have been refined and exposed to high heat (at least 320o F), chemicals, light and air become oxidized and rancid. They are filled with dangerous “trans-fatty acids” and are the killing fats that contribute largely to the risk of cardiovascular diseases, arthritis and cancer.

These trans-fatty acids, which are harmful immune-damaging synthetic fats, are converted to linoleic acids. They are made by partially or fully hydrogenating liquid oils in order to form fats that are solid at room temperature, such as margarine and shortening.

Despite false advisement, trans-fatty acids are in the majority of processed and prepared daily foods including breads, donuts, muffins, crackers, potato chips, mayonnaise, cookies, and of course, all deep fried foods!

The main negative implications derive from the fact that these poor qualities of polyunsaturated oils have been refined and exposed to high heat (at least 320o F), chemicals, light and air become oxidized and rancid. They are filled with dangerous “trans-fatty acids” and are the killing fats that contribute largely to the risk of cardiovascular diseases, arthritis and cancer.

These trans-fatty acids, which are harmful immune-damaging synthetic fats, are converted to linoleic acids. They are made by partially or fully hydrogenating liquid oils in order to form fats that are solid at room temperature, such as margarine and shortening.

Despite false advisement, trans-fatty acids are in the majority of processed and prepared daily foods including breads, donuts, muffins, crackers, potato chips, mayonnaise, cookies, and of course, all deep fried foods!

Some would-be “fat-free” products use denominations such as monoglycerides and diglycerides instead of triglycerides, when these fatty acids are saturated or hydrogenated.
But you need to know that when large amounts of trans-fatty acids are incorporated into the cells, the cell membranes and other cellular structures become malformed and do not function properly. Among other negative side effects, they have been found to elevate blood cholesterol, by raising LDL cholesterol levels, while simultaneously reducing HDL readings. Both of these conditions are associated with insulin resistance, which is linked in turn to diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease.

For example, Harvard University researchers found that people who eat partially hydrogenated oils, high in trans-fats, have nearly twice the risk of heart attacks compared to those who do not consume hydrogenated oils. Trans-fatty acid molecules have been linked to altering the communication ability of neurons, poor neural and mental performance, as well as to neuro-degenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

The worse is that nowadays ingestion of trans-fatty acids can start as early as infancy.

A Canadian study has shown that an average of 7.2% of the total fatty acids in human breast milk are composed of trans-fatty acids transmitted from the consumption of partially hydrogenated vegetable oils by the mothers! Following overwhelming scientific evidence linking trans-fats to cardiovascular diseases, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires all food labels to disclose the amount of trans-fat per serving, since 2006 (they should do the same with GMOs now…).

Omega-3 Fatty Acids Belong to the Healing Essential Fatty Acids (EFA

Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) refer to long-chain (LC) polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), such as omega-3s (n-3) and omega-6s (n-6). Because essential fatty acids cannot be manufactured by the body, they must be supplied from the diet or from dietary supplements.

The two families of essential fatty acids include:

  • Linoleic acid (LA) (omega-6)
  • Arachidonic acid (AA) (omega-6)
  • Gamma linolenic acid (GLA) (omega-6)
  • Dihomogamma linolenic acid (DGLA) (omega-6)
  • Alpha-Linolenic acid (ALA) (omega-3)
  • Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) (omega-3)
  • Docosapentaenoic acid (DPA) (omega-3)
  • Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) (omega-3)

Did you know that in fact every living cell in the body needs essential fatty acids to remain functional? They are vital for rebuilding and producing new cells. And a lack of omega-3, which is a common situation in most people’s diet, reduces the ability of cells to perform their function efficiently, leading to nutrient starvation and chronic illnesses…

They are essential in the production of prostaglandins (PGs), from the “E” family of eicosanoids, very important short-lived substances that are like hormones. They help to regulate cellular activities on a moment-to-moment basis and exert powerful and profound effects on a vast array of functions within our body.

Prostaglandins are important for the regulation of inflammation, pain, gastrointestinal function and secretions, swelling, blood pressure, heart function, kidney function and fluid balance, blood clotting and platelet aggression, allergic response, and nerve transmission, steroid production and hormone synthesis.

And for the next time you’ll eat fried foods, you want to be aware of the fact that heat destroys essential fatty acids and actually creates dangerous “free radicals”, which promote aging and weaken immunity…

You wouldn’t want to spoil the essential fatty acids you bring to your body since studies have shown that EFAs have desirable effects on many health aspects. They have been found to improve skin and hair quality, reduce obesity, and lower blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides (LDLs), to support thyroid and adrenal functions and to reduce the risk of blood clot formation.

They have shown benefits for cardiovascular diseases, candidiasis, arthritis, immune-disorders, vision, loss of hair, dry hair and skin, skin disorders such as scaly skin, eczema and psoriasis, liver problems, irritability and mood swings, depression, stress, infertility, and retarded growth or development. They also help to promote a healthy nervous and mental system.

The importance of the ration Omega-3 to Omega-6 fatty acid

As we stated earlier,  the omega-6 fatty acids, Linoleic acid forms the majority of the polyunsaturated fat eaten in North America and is predominant among commonly-consumed animal, vegetable products and vegetable oils. The main issue is that most people consume them in excess in their diet.

Omega-6 fatty acids are metabolized in the body into another compound called Arachidonic Acid (AA) . Sources of arachidonic acid are mainly from animal sources and include meat, poultry, and full-fat dairy product, and in excess, PGE2is a highly inflammatory substance. It can cause swelling, increased pain sensitivity, and increased blood viscosity and has been related to conditions such as arthritis, asthma, psoriasis, lupus, rhinitis, lumps, tumors and cancers.  Elevated PGE2 has been found in a number of problems affecting mood, behavior, and nervous system function.

As a matter of fact, a number of epidemiological and experimental studies point the finger to an excess of omega-6 fatty acids as being responsible for the development and progression of a range of human cancers including breast, colon and perhaps prostate cancer.

The researchers proposed that a high intake of omega-6 fatty acids contribute to oxidative damage and have effects on cell proliferation.

Conversely, fish oil has been found to suppress the growth and metastasis of both breast and colon cancer tumors. Other studies have found that the cancer protective effect of DHA (an Omega-3) is due to its ability to induce apoptosis (programmed cell death).

Therefore, ways to decrease the production of PGE2 is to decrease the consumption of animal products, and/or by increasing the intake of omega-3 fatty acids and/or of GLAs.

Gamma Linolenic Acids (GLA) are the other type of omega-6 EFA that have been shown to have beneficial effects that are similar to those of the omega-3 EFAs .

GLA is found in mother’s milk; evening primrose oil; black currant oil and borage oil; nuts; seeds; grains, and other plants such as micro-algae. Linolenic Acids lead to the production of prostaglandins of the type PGE1. PGE1 is important in the nervous system, as it affects the release from the nerve cells’ compounds that transmit nerve impulses. It tends to have anti-inflammatory properties and is immune-enhancing. It can reduce fluid accumulation and has a significant effect on the nervous system. Some doctors have manipulated the PGE1 pathway to improve depression; multiple sclerosis; PMS (premenstrual syndrome)-related mood changes; schizophrenia; ADHD (attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder), and other conditions.

Unfortunately, many factors however can block the transformation of GLA into PGE1, such as an excess of saturated fat and cholesterol; excessive arachidonic acid; most drugs; trans-fatty acids; alcohol and tobacco, and deficiencies of certain nutrients.

The Omega-3 group of long-chain fatty acids, particularly EPA (Eicosapentaenoic Acid), DPA (Docosapentaenoic Acid) and DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid) are very much essential for the optimum development and function of vital body systems.

However, of the daily dietary recommended intake of 0.6 to 1 gram of omega-3, the average Western diet provides only less than 15%.

Theoretically, omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids need to be balanced in the diet at a ratio from 1:1 to 4:1. However, modern diets commonly provide ratios as high as 30 parts omega-6 to only 1 part omega-3!

The costly consequences are that diets that provide omega-6 oils rather than omega-3 stimulate pro-inflammatory pathways in the body, while omega -3s on the other hand stimulate anti-inflammatory pathways.

In fact, both essential fatty acids are essential for human health but it is the balance of the two in relation to each other that is important.

Therefore, emphasis should be placed on providing the body with an adequate amount of Omega-3s, either by increasing natural sources or by taking supplements. Consumption of omega-3s is especially useful for us if lowering cholesterol and our consumption of saturated fat are not being addressed in the diet.

Read more about the Omega-3 benefits secrets you wish you knew a year ago by clicking here

Omega-3 fatty acids
3 Facts You Need to Know About Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 Fatty Acids are NOT part of the Killing fats