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Essential Fatty Acids

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In 1900 only 14% of people died of cardio vascular disease and only 3% died of cancer. Today 27% of us die from cardio vascular disease and 23% die from cancer each year. These deaths are due to fatty degeneration and are the result of eating habits based on ignorance and misconceptions.

Along with proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals our bodies require fats to survive. If we don't have proper fat nutrition, our cells will break down and we will not be able to resist diseases. Proper fat nutrition also maintains the veins and arteries of our cardio vascular system.

Its also important to understand that there are good fats and bad fats.

The bad fats are "trans fats" that are made by hydrogenating vegetable fats to make them more stable. Because they are more stable, they are good preservatives and they end up in almost all processed food such as margarine, cookies, pastries, donuts, soda crackers, cooking oil, meat pies, baked goods, peanut butter, potatoe chips, chocolate bars, cereals, soup mixes and snack foods. They are also found in deep fried foods like french fries, onion rings and battered fish. These fats contribute to the formation of plaque in our arteries and heart disease. They also insinuate themselves into the cell membranes and restrict the flow of nutrition into the cells.

The good fats are natural or unhydrogenated fats. These are found in meat, poultry, fish, eggs, milk, butter, nuts, vegetable oils, nut oils and fish oils. If you eat a diet that is about 30% fat, you should have the fats your body needs. Note, fats are converted into various components, so if one type of fat is missing, your body can make it.

There are 2 exceptions to this rule. Your body cannot make Omega 3 and Omega 6 Fatty Acids, so you most consume these fats yourself. Because your body cannot make them, these 2 fatty acids are called Essential Fatty Acids or EFAs.

Sources of EFAs are:
Omega 3 comes from green leafy vegetables, walnuts, flax seed oil, canola oil and fish oils, and is converted by enzymes to ALA (Alpha-linolenic acid), DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid).
Omega 6 comes from corn, sunflower, safflower, cottonseed and evening primrose oils and is converted by enzymes to GLA (Gamma Linolenic Acid), and AA (Arachidonic Acid)

The converted acids each have their special purposes:
Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) - Omega 3 - supports the structure of nerves and cells and aids in the health of the eyes and brain
Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA) - Omega 3 - maintains health and supple joints, circulation and heart health
Arachidonic Acid (AA) - Omega 6 - helps with the transmission of messages in the central nervous system
Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA) - Omega 6 - maintains hormonal balances and healthy skin structure
These components are further converted to ecosanoids (prostoglandin 1, 2 and 3) which are critical to our body repair processes.

Unfortunately, the body's conversion of Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids to these components is an inefficient process, especially in the very young and old, and during times of stress or illness. Actually, the biggest contributing factor towards the component deficiency is our modern lifestyle and diet:
High consumption of alcohol, caffeine, sugar or nicotine can affect the efficiency of enzymes and therefore inhibit the manufacture of these components
Increases in hydrogenated fats in processed foods has increased trans fat consumption. Trans fats insinuate themselves in the cell membranes and block the essential fatty acids
Low fish consumption leads to low intakes of Omega 3
Farmed fish have less omega-3 than wild fish and are often contaminated.

it is recommended that you take 1 gram Omega 3 and 2 grams Omega 6 per day along with your vitamins and minerals

References