Everything today seems to be low fat, no fat or over fat (I’m looking at you Fast Food Restaurants, you know who you are). The thought of having essential fat seems foreign. But it’s true. Some fats are essential to our health. The most commonly known of these are ‘essential fatty acids’ or the omega family. While there are quite a few of them, we are focusing on omega-3 and omega-6.
Ok, the name ‘omega’ and the number come from the chemical structure of the molecule. That’s a bit of a heavy read, so we won’t get into that now. The nick name ‘essential fats’, come from the fact that your body can’t produce these naturally, which means they have to come through your diet.
You’re right, omega-3s come from oily fish including tuna and salmon. Other good sources can also be hemp, flaxseed or linseed oils. These are great if you aren’t keen on that fishy taste, or worse still, have a seafood allergy. The World Health Organisation say, though, the easiest way to get right amount of omega-3 is eating at least two portions of oily fish per week. That’s not really that hard!! And why are they so important? Omega-3 fats are a crucial part of our body’s cell membranes. That’s critical enough for me, but if you need further convincing of their benefits, there are a whole heap of others… deep breath…
They can increase ‘good’ HDL cholesterol in your body, reducing blood pressure and the likelihood of plaque build-up in your arteries, i.e. a lower risk of heart attack. Asthmatics can also benefit, as evidence shows a reduction in symptoms from omega-3.
We know mental health and brain health are different, but humour me, they kind of fit together. Believe it or not, omega-3 can support both. Studies show that omega-3 can have a positive effect on symptoms of depression, schizophrenia and bi polar disorders, while reducing the risk of psychotic disorders developing. Whatever you do, though, if you have been prescribed medication for these, speak to your doctor before you do anything. Omega-3 has also been shown to slow the brain ageing process, slowing the progress of Alzheimer’s and dementia symptoms. While at the other end of the spectrum, its critical to developing the little brains also. It’s truly amazing!
Yes, omega-3 has also been proven to help in managing body weight and reducing liver fat. Other than that, it has been shown to be anti-inflammatory. It really is a wonder fat!
In contrast to omega-3, omega-6 fatty acids are very common. They are in vegetable oil, dairy, eggs, white and red meats and even fast food, cakes, pastries – it’s surprising!
Omega-6 lowers your risk of diabetic neuropathy (aka nerve damage from diabetes), rheumatoid arthritis, allergies and in some cases ADHD! Along with omega-3, omega-6 fats also increase ‘good’ cholesterol in your body, protecting your heart.
Well, not really. While in the right amount omega-6 is incredible, some people eat too much of it. This actually has opposite effects in causing inflammation in your body and has been linked to depression. So, don’t have too much of a good thing, it’s not worth it!
Eating a healthy, balanced diet rich in omega-3, with moderate levels of omega-6 and you will realise benefits.
The composition of Essential Fatty Acids is similar to skin lipids, so they have the ability to replicate skin lipids, which penetrate skin cells providing deep moisturising to the epidermis and dermal layers. So…………. applying Essential Fatty Acids topically is great for your skin.