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Essential Fatty Acids - The Uncomplicated Story

 

This is an interesting topic because it has been the nutritional buzzword for the past couple of years with an explosion of products on the market. The word “fat” has been unjustly and justly abused over the past decades and consequently we are sitting with a nation of people who are dangerously overloaded with the “bad” fats and deprived of the “good” fats. Very few people actually know that with the consumption of essential fatty acids (EFA’s) one can lower the body’s load of saturated dis-used, “bad” fats. One does not really have to get into the science of what Essential Fatty Acids are. It would be far more beneficial to know what roll they play in the optimum running of the machine called your “body”, and where one would find them.

 

Essential fatty acids are primary in the functioning of many processes in the body, from the structure of your neurotransmitters to aiding in the production of the HDL Cholesterol, the cholesterol responsible for eradicating the bad cholesterol. EFAs play an important roll in the constitution of the cell wall in one’s body. They help keep the processes that lubricate the joints in check and the list goes on. The big issue today is where do we find a natural source of these essential fatty acids and why are they not currently in the foods we eat?

 

Loads of the foods we eat contain the essential fats that the body uses and most of it is absorbed and used, the difficulty starts with the handling and cooking of the foods. Essential fatty acids are very sensitive to heat and oxygen and when over heated or exposed to too much light they generate harmful free radicals. That is why it is important to know where you can find them and how to handle them with out compromising their nutritional integrity. Olive oil is great example, we are led to believe that frying with olive oil is healthier than sunflower oil; at the temperatures that one fries our food both oils are useless and even toxic in your body. Olive oil is best eaten raw, stored in the fridge in a dark bottle. The same applies to certain meats like salmon, which is very rich in essential fatty acids but cooking it in a frying pan with margarine will destroy any of the nutrients you are after. One would rather steam the salmon with lemon zest water and herbs over a moderate heat, preserving the nutrients and the natural flavours of the fish. For an excellent list of foods that contain these essential fats I highly recommend Dr. Udo Erasmus’s book “Fats That Heal Fats That Kill”.

 

Other challenges with essential fatty acids are that there are an abundance of Omega 6 fatty acids in our foods and not enough of the Omega 3. More often than not the oils are out of ratio to each other, which usually results in a deficiency of one of the oils, in this case the Omega 3, which is being over powered by the Omega 6. Don’t panic -its not that complicated and can easily be rectified by getting a better understanding which foods contain which Omega oils. (See list below)

 

It truly is not a complicated process getting in the right fats and it does not mean that your life, as you know it, must come to a halt. It probably will mean that you will have to change some bad habits but the results are so phenomenal that the small sacrifice of ridding your life of old ways is a small price to pay for your health.

 

 

 

GOOD FATS

Flaxseed Oil (same as Linseed Oil) is a good source of the all-important Omega 3 essential fatty acids. Fish oil is often recommended, however, it’s been established that the world-wide run on Omega 3 fish oils is noticeably leading to over fishing

of, well – FISH!

Sprouted flax seed is an especially useful product – the sprouting liberates nutrients; hence this product is for those people who shy away from ingesting oil.

Omega 6 essential fatty acids are derived from Borage Oil, Grape Seed Oil, Evening Primrose Oil, Sesame Oil and Soya Oil.

Good fats have potent anti-inflammatory properties and are indispensable for arthritis, Multiple Sclerosis, period pains and challenged skin like eczema and psoriasis.

 

 

BAD FATS

The purported health benefits of margarine surely are one of the best urban myths ever; same like when on Warfarin (blood-thinning medication), you are asked to stay off AVOS! How about giving ‘doctor’s orders’ to reduce the consumption of animal foods, rather than giving the innocent, beautiful avo such a bad rap!!

When oils are hydrogenated (mixed with water to make a spreadable consistency), they denature and convert into ‘bad’ trans-fatty acids which migrate into areas in our body where they do not belong e.g the bloodstream and contribute to the formation of unhealthy, bad cholesterol (LDL).

 

MORE GOOD FATS

Virgin Coconut Oil is a source of MCT’s (medium-chain tryglycerides) that are immediately used for energy, build immunity and have the astounding ability of keeping the blood sugar stable. Since coconut oil tastes so delicious and does not denature in cooking, use it on toast, in baking, for cooking and in smoothies. Keep some at room temperature and brush it on with a pastry brush onto toast!

You’ll be excited to note that the price of MILLBROOK Coconut Oil has dropped radically; the organic farmer in Mocambique has finally been able to streamline his production.

Palm FRUIT Oil has similar properties with the added benefit of enough vitamin A for you to happily lose your glasses!

 



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