OK, this isn’t a license to go out and eat three Big Macs. We’re not even telling you to eat one. And saturated fat isn’t something we ever want to eat much of, but fat is not your enemy if you want to be fit and strong. In fact, there are fats you can’t live without, and you need to know about them.
What Are Essential Fatty Acids?
Essential fatty acids perform a huge array of functions that keep you alive. Here, we’re talking about over 30 different benefits that come from essential fatty acids that will keep you healthy now and help prevent your health from degrading as you age. The best-known group of these fatty acids is the Omega-Three group.
Omega Three acids are what are known in the medical community as “good fats”. Among their many essential functions, they help your body raise the level of high-density-lipids-or HDLs. HDLs are better known as “good cholesterol (low-density lipids, or LDLs, are also known as “bad cholesterol”).
What Do the Good Fats Do For You?
Increasing HDLs and decreasing LDLs decreases your risk of heart disease and stroke, to name a few benefits. But Omega Threes aren’t just limited to helping the circulatory system even though it is that area that gets most of the attention.
Nutritionist Laurie Tansman at the highly-regarded Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City says Omega Threes are an essential building block for every cell of your body. They provide the basic necessity of strength in the cell membranes. Different cells perform totally different functions, but all have membranes. Every cell membrane must be healthy enough to perform the transfer of materials in and out.
Cells that can’t absorb necessary nutrients can’t do their jobs for maintaining your health. Furthermore, if the cells can’t expel waste efficiently, that waste gets backed up and makes you tired and sick. It also sits in your fat cells and contributes to that extra weight you’d rather not have hanging around. So, a lack of fat-good fat- can actually cause you to retain weight.
What Are Some Good Sources Of Good Fats?
The most-popular source of Omega Three good fats is from pills derived from fish oils. Health forums say different things about different pills when it comes to the after effects. The most common complaint by people who use these pills is that their breath starts to get fishy and that they may burp a fishy taste throughout the day – not anyone’s idea of fun.
Sardines, salmon and other cold-water fish are listed as excellent sources of Omega Three fatty acids. You can eat the fish itself if you’d rather not take the pills and likely enjoy yourself more. There is, however, the concern that fish contains PCBs, mercury and other hazardous chemicals, and some fish oil pills have been found to have them as well.
Can I get My Omega Three Fatty Acids Without Eating Fish or Taking Fish Pills?
Yes. Nutritionists debate whether the Omega Threes are as easily absorbed from plant-based foods. But a growing number of people who eat vegan diets (diets with no animal products) suggest that this is not an issue. Quite a few common foods from plants contain lots of Omega Three fatty acids.
Among plant-based foods for Omega Threes are walnuts, flax seeds and soy beans (this does mean non-processed soy beans-tofu contains less omega threes). Flax seeds have become a popular health food and can be found in whole and powder form at most grocery stores. Some breakfast cereals are also fortified with flax and with Omega Three fatty acids. Check the labels to verify the sources.