The human body has the ability to synthesise most nutrients we require for our bodily functions. However, there are certain amino acids, fatty acids, vitamins and minerals that cannot be created by the body and therefore must be obtained through food. These are often referred to as essential nutrients. In the category of fat, our body cannot produce linoleic and alpha-linolenic fatty acids which are needed to create specialized fats like omega-3 and omega-6.
Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids aide a host of bodily functions like tissue development, cell membrane development, smooth functioning of the kidneys and liver, mood elevation, etc. Also known as polyunsaturated fats, omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids have a complimentary effect, e.g. omega 6 encourages blood clotting while omega 3 does the opposite. Therefore, it is essential to find the right balance of intake of both kinds to ensure optimum health.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids Sources: Flaxseed, Walnut, Chia Seed, Canola Oil, Mustard Oil, Tofu
Omega 6 Fatty Acid Sources: Safflower Oil, Pine Nuts, Corn Oil, Pecans, Brazil Nuts, Sunflower Seeds
The reigning problem with fat today is that we consume too much of it. Although essential to our well-being, too much of even a good thing can have a detrimental effect on our body. Due to our increased consumption of packaged foods, junk foods, processed meals, etc. our intake of omega 6 has drastically increased over the years with a simultaneous decrease in the consumption of omega 3 due to the bad press fat has gotten. It gets worse when omega 6 fatty acids are exposed to heat, during processing, which converts them into highly dangerous trans fats.