As we conclude nutritional basics it crucial that we discuss functional foods. Functional foods are a lot like what they sound; they help us function by providing significant health benefits as well as basic nutrition. One of the most significant categories of functional foods is essential fatty acids.
Essential fatty acids are necessary for the body but they cannot be synthesized within the body and so they must be obtained from (external) dietary sources.
Essential fatty acids fall into two main categories: omega 6 and omega 3. Omega-6 is found in abundance in foods like chicken eggs, walnuts, Brazil nuts, peanuts, sunflower oil, cotton oil, corn oil, etc. Meanwhile, most fish, flax seed oil, grape seed oil, and soybean oil are rich in omega-3.
These two substances exert many health benefits in certain conditions; as follows:
Consumption of omega 3 has shown to reduce fatty content in the blood and prevent excessive blood clotting. This allows blood to flow more like a river and less like thick honey dripping down the jar. This also helps maintain appropriate blood pressure. Based on the evidence linking omega 3 and heart health, the American Heart Association updated their dietary requirements in October of 2009. The update recommended that healthy adults consume two or more servings of fatty fish per week.
Omega-6 is full of anti-inflammatory properties. By decreasing inflammation in joint capsules, the duration of morning stiffness, joint swelling, tenderness, and pain would also be reduced. This means that consumption of omega-6 will reduce symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.
A controlled trial study showed that consumption of omega- 6 also improves skin moisture, decreases dryness, alleviates itchiness, and decreases inflammation of skin. Overall, omega-6 has been shown to improve symptoms of eczema.
Omega 3 has been shown to improve symptoms of depression. These symptoms include loss of appetite, irregular sleep schedule, disinterest, deep sadness, etc.
Essential fatty acids are the “good type” of fat.
They are necessary for life and are required for the appropriate structure and function of every cell in the body. Essential fatty acids are extremely varied in their health benefits. They increase absorption of vitamins and minerals, nourish connective tissue, promote appropriate neural function, and help decrease inflammation. Consuming the right amount of omega 3 and omega 6 is like getting the right amount of ingredients for a recipe; without them there’s not much to work with and so the final dish will never fully represent the recipe. In a similar manner, without the right amount of essential acids the structure and function of cells cannot properly be maintained and the body will not represent an ideal healthy status.