Essential for a Reason~ June 15, 2007
Nutrition experts have called it the biggest lie.
A lie which has been told for the past 20 years. A lie that is believed by some to be responsible for the deterioration in the nation’s heath.
This lie, which has also become one of the best selling marketing gimmicks, is that fat is bad. This blanket statement has left fats with a black eye. The truth is that all fats are not created equal and the body does not use all fats equally.
Rather, it has been the wrong fats, mainly trans fats, which have been linked to a multitude of degenerative diseases.
But in our quest to lower our fat intake, we have removed the good fats, the natural fats that are crucial for life.
There are 50 essential nutrients that our body cannot make but must derive from food.
Two of these nutrients, called essential fatty acids, or EFAs, come from fats and oils.
One is alpha-linolenic acid more commonly known as omega 3; the other is linoleic acid or omega 6.
These EFAs are found in the type of fat referred to as polyunsaturated fat, which are recognized by being in liquid form at both room temperature and colder temperatures.
Omega-3 fatty acids are found abundantly in walnuts, flax, hemp seed and fish such as salmon, and cod liver oil.
Omega-6 is present in safflower, sunflower and corn oils, sesame seeds and nuts such as brazil and almonds.
These are the “good” fats.
Essential fatty acids nourish your skin, hair, nerves, thyroid, and will actually help you lose weight.
EFA's are also instrumental in digestive and intestinal health, offering soothing, and healing, properties to all aspects of these functions. They strengthen your liver and kidneys, alleviate inflammation, balance water and help lower LDL (the bad) cholesterol.
Essential fatty acids are essential for eye health and also help maintain your hormonal balance and your mental performance.
As a matter of fact, your brain being 60% fat has many processes that can only be completed with EFA’s and requires more Omega 3 than any other system in your body.
Researchers at Tufts University in Boston recently added to growing evidence that increased levels of the omega-3 can significantly lower the risk of dementia and Alzheimer's disease. Other mental conditions studied for links with omega-3 deficiency are bi-polar disorder, schizophrenia, chronic fatigue syndrome, depression and stress.
Children also have gained immensely with a diet high in EFA’s. Brain related conditions are emerging at an astonishing rate in our youth. The US Surgeon General announced that 1 in 10 American children currently suffer with a psychiatric illness and ADHD is becoming epidemic through out North America affecting 3-6% of school age children. Dr Michael Lyon, author of Is Your Child’s Brain Starving? Food Not Drugs for Life and Learning, said that“80% of kids with ADHD have serious deficiencies in omega-3 acids”
A Purdue University study also has shown that kids low in Omega-3 essential fatty acids are significantly more likely to be hyperactive, have learning disorders and aggression, and to display behavioural problems.
If all that wasn’t enough, research is aggressively continuing on Omega 3 and its effects on prostrate cancer. According to International Journal of Cancer slashing the risk by 43%.
Omega 9 is a third fatty acid that is needed for health. The Omega 9 is found in monounsaturated fats, another “good” fat, that include olive oil, canola oil, avocados, nuts such as pistachios, pecans and peanuts. They differ from polyunsaturated fats in that they are liquid at room temperature but solidify in the cold.
Omega 9 acids, although valuable, are considered non-essential because the body is able to make from other fats.
Healthy oils are essential to our well-being, but are much more temperamental than you may expect. Light, air and heat can destroy them and make them unusable by the body. For that reason they are not good choices for cooking and frying, and once opened should be kept in the refrigerator to protect from turning rancid. Seeds should be ground just before use whenever possible, and nuts should always be raw, not roasted, salted or flavored.
Aside from being consumed in their natural form, these oils are becoming readily available in either capsules or liquid form.
With Canadian diet being higher in corn, sunflower and safflower oils, sources of Omega 6, the focus should be on bringing Omega 3 back into the diet. To help lessen the confusion, quality manufacturers are producing good supplements that already balance out the ratio of all these different oils and are available and local health food stores.
According to Canadian, Udo Erasmus, PhD, the industry’s leading authority on EFA’s and author of the groundbreaking book, Fats that Heal Fats That Kill which has became the industry's bible on fats, “EFAs are major nutrients. We need them in tablespoon, not milligram, amounts each day”